A young entrepreneur’s brightly lit Photobooth, just three months old and a first for Sri Lanka, is a great hit with the young ones. Duvindi Illankoon has a chat with Kasun Ediriweera who clicked onto this venture –
With Photobooths, Kasun Ediriweera has tapped into what is perhaps Colombo’s most profitable niche market. As the thousands of pictures on Facebook depicting such riveting events as a trip to McDonald’s will tell you-there is nothing our Colombars (and their peers around the island) love more than a good photo of themselves. And Photobooth will give you not just one-but three photos in miniature!
Photobooth operates on a basic premise that has worked like a charm around the world. The subject is guided into a small box-like space curtained from the outside. A screen in front will reflect your image back at you-press the big red button and make sure to change your expression every three seconds or so because that’s how long it takes for the Photobooth to get three (often hilarious) shots of you. The result comes in the form of a narrow strip of three pictures-much like a reel, your memento from whatever event you happened to be in.
Kasun’s brightly lit Photobooth is barely three months in business, but already it’s become so wildly popular that Kasun and his team struggle to recover from one event before launching themselves into the next. They’ve been to a spectrum of events, from a carnival to an open air concert to balls and parties and graduation nights and even a wedding!
It turned out that he was right, but it certainly wasn’t an easy task. For two months Kasun and his partners Sajin Alles and Yashodha Pramudith messed about with complicated technicalities and financial troubles. They even applied for the HSBC Young Entrepreneur competition but were shot down. Eventually, they managed to get the photo booth operational. The Photobooth’s first outing was at the British School Christmas Carnival. “It was our first time, so of course there were some major hitches,” he laughs wryly.”But that first night itself was very encouraging. So many people tried it out and we were ecstatic. I mean, imagine if no one caught on and we had wasted all our savings.”
The hardest part of running your own business is in convincing others to believe in your idea, he says. “The younger people are receptive to it. But those from an older generation can occasionally be sceptical. And because investment and opportunities usually come from the older age group, we have to work extra hard to make sure Photobooth is consistently popular and delivers excellent results.”
Excellent results are not always easy to come by, when you’re struggling to manage jostling crowds and keep the Photobooth running. But Kasun is committed to ensuring that the Photobooth does not remain stale and one dimensional. “We invest most of our profits back into the Photobooth,” he says. “Initially it was a basic premise of getting printed copies of the photos within seconds. But now we’ve introduced props and funny accessories and we do a framed version of the photo if the customer wants it. We’ve even introduced a printing service at weddings, where we work in collaboration with professional photographers. It’s important to always stay a step ahead, even when you have no competition.”
One day there will most certainly be competition (the idea is too good to be restricted to a monopoly), but these guys are not too worried about that.�They’ve got a smart business plan and an even more ambitious dream. As with most young entrepreneurs, Kasun and his partners have big plans for their portable black box. “We hope that Photobooth will be a part of a much larger company one day.” he smiles. “But right now we’re focusing on starting out small and testing our products on a willing audience. That’s the smart way to do business.”
Originally published on The Sunday Times – Issue date – Sunday, March 03, 2013