The Inaugural Entrepreneurial Chat “From Startup to Success” organized by the Innovation Invention and Venture Creation Council in collaboration with the Startup Hub and Entre Club was held at Entre Club, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura on 22nd May 2022. The visionary entrepreneur who shared his story was Dr. Ravi Liyanage, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kingdom of Raigam. During the talk Dr. Liyanage shed light on his entrepreneurial journey, highlighting the key factors that propelled his venture to success.
During his story, Dr. Ravi Liyanage humbly confessed that he was not a born entrepreneur and that it was the influence of the academic exposure received at the Faculty of Management Science and Commerce and the businesspersons he encountered during his time at USJ that sparked his interest in the entrepreneurial world. Despite initially joining as a customs officer after completing his university education, Dr. Liyanage nurtured a desire to solve real customer problems and make a meaningful impact. The catalyst for his entrepreneurial venture emerged when his mother lamented the wastage of soya meat due to weevil attacks. Driven to find a solution, Dr. Liyanage took on the challenge of preventing these losses. He embarked on developing a minimum viable product (MVP) by accurately measuring the ingredients of his mother’s beloved recipe using an electronic balance borrowed from the customs research division. To safeguard the quality of the soya meat, he innovated the product by introducing special packaging and airtight packets, effectively preventing the entry of insects. However, Dr. Liyanage’s journey did not end there. Recognizing the importance of natural flavours, he sought advice from Professor A. Bamunuarachchi from the Faculty of Applied Sciences, USJ, specializing in Food Science. With the professor’s guidance, he successfully incorporated natural flavours, further enhancing the taste of his product. This attention to detail and commitment to quality allowed Dr. Liyanage to manufacture a delicious and customer-approved soya meat product.
Driven by his dedication and the positive response from customers, Dr. Ravi Liyanage’s soya meat venture thrived. Today, his entrepreneurial spirit has led him to become a prominent figure in the business world, venturing into various other successful endeavours alongside his Kingdom of Raigam enterprise. The story of Dr. Ravi Liyanage’s transformation from a customs officer to a successful entrepreneur exemplifies the power of innovation, determination, and seeking expert advice. His ability to identify a customer problem, develop an MVP, and incorporate natural flavours with the guidance of a knowledgeable professor showcases the key steps he took to turn a traditional family recipe into a thriving soya meat industry.
As a prominent figure in the business world, Dr. Ravi Liyanage has achieved numerous accolades throughout his career. In 2005, he was honoured with the Platinum award for the FCCISL Entrepreneur of the Year, recognizing his exceptional contributions to entrepreneurship. Additionally, he was bestowed with the highly coveted CIMA Business Leader of the Year award, a remarkable accomplishment that made him the first entrepreneur to win both prestigious awards in the same year. Dr. Liyanage’s impressive achievements and extensive experience have established him as a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The “From Startup to Success” chat series organized by the IIVCC follows the hugely successful International Finance Corporation Funded Coffee Chat initiative at USJ. The aim of this platform is to foster the growth and success of student-led startups and budding entrepreneurs. The event also partners with the Career Guidance Unit, Startup Hub, and Entre Club of USJ to provide comprehensive support and guidance to the participants. The Startup to Success initiative is supported by the SECRA Project which is co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ Programme.