Journey of an Esteemed Entrepreneur – Anushka Gunasinghe
Anushka Gunasinghe the Founder and Managing Director of CameraLK
Every successful entrepreneur is woven with a unique story reflecting his or her success and in the case of Anushka Gunasinghe, the founder and Managing Director of CameraLK, it took a lot of courage to be a game changer in the field of photography by starting from naught to wither the storm of financial issues and achieve greater heights in business and life. Below are excerpts of an interview.
Q: What laid the foundation for this Company?
A: I was a University dropout and at a time when I was jobless, I got the opportunity to work as a freelance photographer at the Lake House and anunexpected Singapore tour in 2010 where I was asked to bring some Cameras laid the foundation for this business. Then I began pre-orders and continued to import Cameras at a low rate and was able to promote my small business through CameraLK Facebook page. CameraLK was officially launched in 2011 and we could break the then monopoly market by dropping the prices of Cameras which were priced even higher than the international price rates by three or four companies.
Q: When did CameraLK reach its peak?
A: There was a sudden boost in the Tourism industry and the economy too began to grow at a greater pace with the end of war and Tourist arrival increased more and more. People took up photography as a hobby and most people shifted from mobile phones to cameras as many amateur photographers came forward during that period. The period from 2012 to 2015 was the pinnacle period for CameraLK as we were able to gain 100% sales during that period. We also launched the CameraLK photography academy in 2014.
Q: How did you win the hearts of people?
A: We at CameraLK have always paid greater concern on customer affairs and we are always committed to giving the best after sales service and warranties for our valued customers. Moreover, free training sessions were provided for the customers who buy our products with the view of creating awareness on the camera and a given photography trend and the special back up warranty system where we provided a new camera for customers who come to our service center to repair their cameras and one year warranty. This offer gained huge attraction because customers who come for repairs otherwise have to wait for two or three months till their cameras are being repaired in Singapore. With an ambitious wish to promoting the Sony brand, we are in for special buy-back offer where the customers could purchase a brand new Sony camera with a discount by giving back their used Canon and Nikon cameras.
Q: Describe in brief about the current business situation.
A: At present CameraLK has five showrooms with a service center and accommodates 63 employees. Apart from selling Photography equipment, we have recently opened CameraLK Photography academy and each year, about 600 students pass out from the certificate courses in photography. Our courses are designed to cater the demand of the modern trends and technology of photography and are available at affordable prices. Each year, we reach an annual growth of 10-15% and our Colombo showroom is listed as the largest multi branded showroom in South East Asia. From among 14 countries in the region, CameraLK has come forward as the fastest growing company and we stand as the trend setter in the modern market.
Q: What were the challenges you came across in your journey?
A: I was the youngest Sony distributor to enter into the field and being so young was a challenge in dealing with the matured market which controlled the business, but I was soon able to break the monopoly market prevailed at that time because I utilized social media to a greater extent in promoting my business. I still hold the title as the youngest Sony Distributor. Moreover, from being a tax free item to impose a 15% VAT on Cameras was another challenge we had to cope with and during that time we also had to increase the prices, but we were able to keep down the prizes less than the market rate. The 21st April attack was a real dent in Sri Lankan economy as it not only affected tourism, but also played a hand in banning Drones which directly affected our sales. Drones play a large part in photography and we were the soul distributor to drones.I think it hit the overall economy badly which is grappling to return back to normalcy.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: We hope to establish a new showroom in Maldives by the first half of 2020 and it would also be a multi branded showroom. Apart from that, we are planning to convert CameraLK to a PLC company in the near future. As the official distributor to Sony, we are looking forward to increase Sony brand sales by giving away more benefits and offers to our customers and we are proud that we were able to create a Sony trend backed by its powerful features such as mirror-lesswhich takes imaging far beyond capability of any other camera.