Different Technologies, one of Australia’s hottest new global startups, will starting from January 2021, s offer all permanent employees equity in the firm, which is backed by Australia’s largest VC firm AirTree Ventures, and Silicon Valley’s Foundation Capital.
The company said it is “taking this decisive step because it believes that investing in its employees and ensuring their stability and security is not only the right thing to do, but also a smart business decision.”
“Particularly in the uncertain economic climate that has arisen in the aftermath of COVID-19, we want our employees to think like owners,” said Co-founder of :Different, Ruwin Perera, a former Director at Softbank. “We have built our company around people, and we want those people with us for the long run. Offering all our employees equity in our firm is a chance for us to let them grow with us, just like our investors. You can tell a lot about a company by where it focuses its resources and in our case we believe that investing in our employees will pay dividends in the long run. Ultimately, we’re building this company together and rather than simply paying lip service to this idea; we wanted to take action!”
“:Different has always been a great company to work for, but the new equity offer is just amazing,” said Deegha Galkissa, a member of the Engineering team at :Different’s Colombo office. “Feeling that you’re a part of a team is nice but knowing that you’re a part-owner of the company you work for is something else entirely.”
This sentiment was also echoed by Mark Sinnathamby, another member of the Engineering team. “Giving equity to all employees is not something you see every day in Sri Lanka and I’m just proud to be a part of the company that has made it happen. Coming into work definitely feels different, now that I’m a shareholder in my company!”
:Different’s VP of Engineering, Hasitha Liyanage is no stranger to start-ups that eventually became big names in Sri Lanka, like MIT, Sysco Labs. Liyanage spoke more on the rationale behind sharing equity and how it is also a personal decision for him, “I wish someone had offered this to me when I was a Junior Developer! It cannot be overstated, the best way to encourage employees to think and act like owners is to actually make them owners!”
:Different’s Country HR Business Partner, Kalpika Abayasekera explained that all current staff are automatically enrolled in this scheme, with a specific up-front entitlement to the equity on offer, “We felt it was absolutely necessary to reward the team that has been through the growing pains of a start-up. These shares are issued on a four-year maturity which also encourages the team to see their tenure as quite literally a long-term investment.”
“We are following the same format adopted in Silicon Valley and in our Australian office, and thought it was about time that our Sri Lankan crew reap the same benefits as their counterparts abroad,” said Perera
:Different recently reaffirmed its commitment to Sri Lanka by doubling its stake in the country through a multi-million dollar investment in its Colombo office. This move strengthens the regional office by adding senior personnel and moving key operational functions, including real-time customer management, customer experience, maintenance and supplier relationships to Sri Lanka.
“The increased investment into the Colombo office, coupled with our new equity offer to employees underlines :Different’s commitment to harnessing the best minds in Sri Lanka to build a world-class technology company that places Sri Lanka very firmly on the world tech map”, said Perera.
He is confident that this new move will further strengthen :Different’s position as one of the most employee-friendly startups to work for in Sri Lanka. “Recruiting and retaining the very best may be the most important part of building a company that will be resilient through the uncertain times that await us over the next decade, and this is doubly important as world economies recover from COVID-19. Our hope is that this move will encourage other companies to start seeing their employees as long-term investments, because that’s exactly what they are to us!”
The company news release did not reveal whether what’s on offer is free or paid shares under an Employees Share Option Plan (ESOP).
Bull run on CSE acquires further momentum
“Market’s gone crazy, when will the bubble burst?”, asks broker
The mind-boggling on the Colombo Stock Exchange which on Friday drove the benchmark All Share Price Index up by 291.34 points – “perhaps the biggest ever single day gain,” a broker said, has left brokers, market players and investors stunned.
“The market’s gone crazy,” a leading broker said requesting anonymity. “It’s an ever-growing bubble and nobody can say when it will burst. It is difficult to sustain this kind of momentum without foreign and institutional buying.”
Mr. Niroshan Wijesundera, the head of marketing at the CSE, said that Friday’s peak of the ASPI had fallen a little short of the highest ever 7,811 achieved on Feb. 14, 2011.
But brokers speaking from memory reckoned that the Rs. 12.46 billion turnover was among the highest ever achieved without special transactions like takeovers etc. done on the trading floor.
While some analysts said that the bull run was without any scientific basis, Wijesundera said it was largely retail driven.
“The very low prevailing interest rates would have influenced fund movement to the stock market,” he said. “Also, global markets are moving up.”
Brokers said that that Friday’s upward momentum was fueled largely by the LOLC and Hayleys groups with LOLC Holdings which has been moving up for the past several days seeing its share price up Rs. 45.25 from the previous close with over 5.64 million shares traded traded. The counter generated a turnover of Rs. 1.17 billion.
LOLC is controlled by its deputy chairman, Ishara Nanayakkara and related parties, while Hayleys is controlled by Dhammika Perera. Although LOLC has paid no dividends since 2012, shareholders have been compensated with capital appreciation of its shares. The group was involved in a mega international deal last year, selling its 70% stake in Cambodia’s leading micro-finance company for Rs. 120 billion.
Haycarb, the activated carbon manufacturing subsidiary of Hayleys, saw its share gaining 72.75 to close at Rs. 757.75 on 218,609 shares traded between Rs. 685 and Rs. 737 through 479 transactions. Hayleys itself was up Rs. 21 to Rs. 491.25 and Dipped Products up Rs. 19.75 to close at Rs. 401.25 on 1.83 million shares transacted 1,157 trades.
Stafford Motors starts their two-wheeler recon. operations
Covid-19 outbreak has majorly affected the transportation sector in the country as people are more reluctant to use public transportation modes. As to provide a safer day today transportation to their devoted customers, the Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd has taken a step forward to deliver Honda two-wheelers engraved with trust and confidence.
The company has taken the initiative to offer Stafford certified reconditioned two wheelers to their valued customers in order to continue their services even during the ongoing import restrictions. The company is purchasing used two-wheelers and then a series of inspections with a condition check is conducted before they taken it into their re-conditioned two wheeler operations. Mainly, the Mechanical faults are addressed by experienced and skilled technical experts and the required parts are replaced with Honda genuine spares which enhances the functionality and reliability of the unit. The main aim of the company is to offer a Honda two-wheeler under the renowned name of Stafford Motors with certified Quality and deliver their two-wheelers for a reasonable price to its loyal customers while purchasing can be done by cash or lease. A warranty period of three months or 3000 km is provided with these reconditioned Two- wheelers certified by the company. Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd is ready to provide a trade-in offer for their loyal customers which will allow them to exchange their current Honda two-wheeler and upgrade it to a Stafford Certified brand new looking two wheeler.
Stafford Motor Company (Pvt.) Ltd. being the sole distributor of world renowned Honda products in Sri Lanka is the best place to purchase a re-conditioned two-wheeler as it is always at the forefront of the two-wheeler market by understanding the needs of the customers while offering the best products with the highest quality for past 40 years.
LOLC General Insurance looking at expanding into potential international markets
With LOLC expanding into many markets in Asia and Africa, LOLC General Insurance is also optimistic of expanding insurance services and products to several selected and potential international markets in the near future, says Kithsiri Gunawardena, CEO of LOLC General Insurance,.
“LOLC Group has a very strong and highly respected brand presence in all the markets we operate. In some of these markets, the Insurance industry is in the early stages of development. Thus, the regulators are keen on the introduction of micro insurance products to support small and medium scale businesses for systemic stability”, he said.
LOLC General Insurance, a fully-owned subsidiary of the LOLC Group recently became Sri Lanka’s first General Insurance company to achieve Rs. 6 Billion Gross Written Premium (GWP) in less than 10 years.
The company reached the Rs. 6 Billion mark in December 2020, becoming the fastest General Insurance company to achieve this milestone in the industry.
“LOLC General Insurance is a young company compared to the rest in the industry. During the last few years, we continuously streamlined the processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company. The entire staff was motivated to work as one team and embark on a customer centric approach. A scheme was introduced whereby a pre-designated percentage of the company profits are shared with our staff thereby elevating them to become true stakeholders of our business”, Gunawardena noted.
“We also critically analyzed our expenses and introduced mechanisms to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. The combination of these measures and our aggressive sales model supported by the commitment of our team resulted in the company being able to secure a substantial volume of new business outside of the group reflecting that we are well aligned to the needs of the market”, the CEO said.
With a service first mind-set and the strong backing of the LOLC Group, LOLC General Insurance became the fastest growing Insurer in the industry with the highest growth in Motor as well as Non-Motor portfolios. This achievement was also made possible by the trust and confidence placed in the company by customers throughout the country as well as the indispensable contribution made by our staff, he outlined.
The aggressive approach in sales, flexibility in policy options and a customer centric product portfolio has enabled this growth over the years. The company hopes to maintain the same focus, approach and excellence in the years ahead to sustain this growth momentum, Gunawardena further said.
He said the year 2020 was probably the most challenging for most businesses in the country and the insurance industry recorded a negative growth. Interestingly, LOLC General Insurance managed to record its best performance during this year. Although external operating conditions remained challenging, the General Insurance business performed steadily, he added.
“Most disruptions create opportunities and we capitalised on becoming even more aggressive when most others opted to be cautious. By December 2020, we were able to reach the Rs. 6 Bn mark mainly because of the commitment of our team who were always geared and motivated to offer uninterrupted services to the customers even during the pandemic”, he continued.
The aggressive business model, highly motivated and loyal staff, passionate leadership, unstinted reputation within the market on service quality and last but not least the strong backing of the LOLC Group is what makes us stand apart, Gunawardena stressed.
The opportunities are immense in the market. With a saturated Motor market and the challenge of limited new registrations for the foreseeable future, the price and service will be key in this sphere. The Non-Motor market is noticeably under-penetrated and this gives LOLC General Insurance opportunities to grow with our unique products and services to customers, he said.
On future expansion plans, he noted that 2021 will see innovations in terms of customer engagement with respect to digital transformation as well as unique product ranges and service standards being introduced. By locating branches strategically, the company is enhancing customer convenience.
“Our focus on accomplishing full automation remains strong with the entire process automated end-to-end, from meeting the customer to the point of delivery while policy servicing is achieved via technology platforms. The country-wide reach will be enhanced with the formation of new regions/branches and close to 70 dedicated service points being established”, Gunawardena emphasized.
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