Growing your Startup - Lessons from PayPal’s experience by Dinuke Ranasinghe
Position : CEO & CO-FOUNDER of Arcadier
Creating a business model based on marketplace technology and leveraging on this untapped market is something many would not have thought of. However, the advent of Arcadier and the idea behind its creation was a ‘eureka’ moment says CEO and co-founder of Arcadier, Dinuke Ranasinghe.
Being in the e-commerce industry for over 20 years and about the advent of online marketplaces. The former Regional Head of Strategy & Business Development, Asia Pacific for Paypal Pte Ltd and the Head of Emerging Products & Technology (Australia & New Zealand) for Visa International further discussed about the tech space and how his past work experiences guided him in the founding of Arcadier.
Starting his career as an engineer who worked on the construction of the oil rigs in the Southern part of New South Wales, Dinuke recalls his entry into the tech space when he joined the implementation team for the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system in Visa international. His work included deploying software all around Australia and New Zealand and it was a significant shift from construction to consulting. Dinuke then joined PayPal Pte Ltd, a relatively new company then, and was part of its growth from being an unknown product to the monster it is today. He shared with us some of his guiding principles from his journey thus far and on creating opportunities with online marketplaces.
“Until someone says no, push ahead”
PayPal with its humble beginnings became the No. 1 payment company in Australia within 3 years from its launch and it grew from a handful of accounts to 3 million accounts which was nearly half the adult population in Australia. PayPal then tried to replicate this success in other countries and expand globally but was not well-received in many countries such as India. However, PayPal did not give up and continued pushing ahead. Eventually, many countries adopted PayPal and the secret to the growth of PayPal was its ability to push ahead persistently and relentlessly and to leave no stone unturned.
“Gravitating towards what you think is right takes experience, stupidity and bravery”
PayPal’s progression from a company with almost no brand equity to a brand which is widely recognised worldwide came with many challenges. Although there was a real demand in the market for such a technology, regulators were not aware of how to handle a virtual company and when a new regulation came about, there was a need to get their requirements implemented quickly. The expansion efforts of PayPal illustrates the idea of always gravitating towards what you think is right regardless of the setbacks faced. This was no different for Arcadier where they started with 3 founders and learnt more about their products and their capabilities through the customer response. Although negative feedback might not be favourable, they are essential in further developing and fine-tuning a product or service. Unlike Visa, where there was a given set of rules on how to operate, at PayPal and Arcadier, there was no fixed structure and there was a need to define the rules along the way. When there is no data to begin with, one has to go with their gut feeling and learn along the way with experience.
“Learn how to pivot from start-ups and about physical discipline from corporations”
There is something to learn from any company, be it a start-up or an MNC. Dinuke shares why it is important for companies to take lessons from each other. Corporations can emulate the start-up mentality by learning how to pivot. Pivoting involves having slight incremental changes in directions within the organization and its products through feedback channels. This is present in corporations but is not as pertinent as it is in start-ups.
Start-ups, on the other hand, can learn about fiscal discipline from corporations. Start-ups could learn how to consistently maintain a state of ideal balance between revenues and expenditure which allows for a healthy company. This fiscal discipline is something which is relatively easier to attain as a corporation due to the large funds available, but start-ups can also try to emulate this aspect for a positive growth in the industry.
“Take a chance on an outcome”
PayPal taught Dinuke to ‘take a chance on an outcome’ and Arcadier was the fruit of that lesson. When creating new opportunities, failure is inevitable, and success is not guaranteed. One has to take a chance on the outcome. This is even more relevant for an unexplored business idea like online marketplaces. Dinuke based his intuition and luck on his background knowledge on marketplaces. Marketplaces has always been a powerful medium of trade and it dates back to history where marketplaces were the most efficient way to bring buyers and sellers together. Although the efficiency has evolved over the years and the interface has changed, the principles of marketplaces still remains the same. This is a tried and tested method and brings together a community of buyers and sellers. This lesson was the guiding principle behind the founding of Arcadier.
Watch the entire Arcadier Inspire Summit talk by Dinuke Ranasinghehere: