EFutures was inspired by the potential of the outsourcing opportunity for Sri Lanka and the excitement around the dotcom boom. In its 20 years of operation, whilst its global clientele grew and employees thrived, the company maintained an organic approach to growth because stability mattered most.
Founder chief executive of EFutures, Prashan Nagendra, and co-founder Rishen Fernando, discuss the company’s strategy to win global customers.
You founded EFutures over two decades ago, in 2000. How has EFutures’ journey been thus far?
We started the company at the tail end of the global dot-com boom in 2000, inspired by the tremendous gains companies worldwide made by starting internet-based businesses. Of course, when the dot-com bubble burst in 2002, some of these companies collapsed, but many others endured and emerged stronger.
We launched EFutures inspired by the dotcom promise of transforming economies and businesses with digital technology. We believed that Sri Lankans and our local graduates had the potential to compete on a global platform, and we had an audacious goal to move from being a small solution company to building world class cutting-edge software for an international clientele.
EFutures started with a few people working out of a small makeshift office. Initially, acquiring overseas clients was difficult, and most of our digital products and services catered to the local market. While we did get the occasional small-scale project from foreign clients, our big break came when we were contracted by a significant international financial institution based in Singapore as a dedicated outsourced development arm for their credit card division.
Shortly after, we entered into a joint venture with a firm based in Silicon Valley that helped us accelerate growth by marketing our services to tech startups in the valley. This was followed by another joint venture with a Swedish partner who successfully secured clients from across Europe.
Today we stand strong with strategic partnerships with several leading companies in the U.S., Spain and Sweden, and growth continues to accelerate. From the get-go, we aimed to expand overseas organically by building reserves and structured the company to withstand external shocks and global market fluctuations.
We prefer to position ourselves as a conservative tech company, which is why our employee numbers may not be as high as some of the other firms in this space. It is a deliberate strategy to grow the business from a position of stability.
Looking ahead, we aim to establish EFutures as a recognized, seasoned, boutique product engineering company in South Asia in the domains of fintech, healthcare, climate change, and retail space.
EFutures is a full-cycle software development company with expertise in creating bespoke impactful and innovative enterprise-scale software for both start-ups and mature businesses. You have completed over 600 projects. What have been the reasons behind your successes?
Businesses make decisions fast, and as a technology partner, we need to be in a position to respond to the needs of our customers as they get creative and find new solutions to customer problems. We believe in the importance of maintaining a good, frequent, and transparent line of communication and set clear expectations from the onset.
Next, we recruit the best talent, people with the right attitude who keep abreast with market trends and adopt new technologies fast. And third, as already discussed above, is our conservative approach to growth. We wanted to self-finance any expansion, and this has placed EFutures on a solid foundation.
You have an impressive portfolio of local and international clients. Can you tell us how you built EFutures to differentiate itself from competitors?
We are passionately customer-centric, and that in itself makes all the difference. We find ourselves obsessing over customer satisfaction. We make this a part of our organisational culture. We have also narrowed the focus areas of specialisation and built proprietary models which enable us to materialize our customers’ creative ideas to tech solutions.
Can you elaborate on this? You have multi-industry expertise serving clients in the automobile, banking & insurance, fashion, logistics, medical, retail, start-ups, telecommunications, travel, stock exchange and wellness spaces. Tell us about some of the innovative solutions you are particularly proud of?
There are many projects we are proud of. One example is a logistics company, one of our oldest customers based in the U.S. The client was a small family-controlled shipping business when they first came to us for help to scale an in-house operations system. Over the years that followed, we helped them grow the business and build solutions that allowed them to diversify into 3PL (third-party logistics) and warehousing. Today, they are one of the largest logistics companies in Miami. Another example is something we are working on at the moment in the health and wellness space. We are building a platform to measure body weight, forecast risks and trends, and enable people to make informed decisions about their lifestyles. We are also building a healthcare platform for a Scandinavian company that focuses on the psychological wellbeing of its employees. It empowers workers to provide feedback anonymously and allows the company to evaluate the work environment by validating this feedback. We have built this platform with extreme scalability and versatility for big data analytics.
What was the one leadership lesson you both had to learn the hard way?
If there was one hard lesson, it was learning how and when to let go. As a startup in the initial years, it’s really important to multi-task and keep costs low, figure out where you fit in the market, and develop strategies, systems, and processes from the ground up. However, as you scale up to become more successful, you have to be able to identify the right time to stop micromanaging the business and start building trust in experts. For us, it was a hard thing to let go. But today, we stand strong because whilst we took a little longer, we made sure that we hired a specialized team that we trust and they are an integral part of our success, and this has allowed us as founders to focus on strategy and scaling the company to greater heights.