Anushka Bandara and Shane Perera of Elegant Media have built a thriving business - and 1000 apps - from the ground up.
By Martin Lenehan
In his eight years at the helm of app development company Elegant Media, Anushka Bandara has lent his expertise to a string of high-profile clients, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and mental health not-for-profit beyondblue.
Elegant Media has also developed apps for the Australian Communications and Media Authority
, and Australian Taxation Office
Ask Bandara to nominate the project he has found most rewarding, however, and it’s an app called ThinkShop that gets the nod.
ThinkShop encourages people to give a gift to friends or loved ones at any time for any purpose. It also allows users to maintain a wish list of gifts family and friends can view when they need inspiration for a gift.
“Giving a gift is such a rewarding thing and this is an amazing concept,” Bandara says.
“The client, Nelson Yiannnakou, had his concept for 15 years and originally looked at a web-based product when there were no smartphones. We met him and helped him come up with the solution and that was very satisfying for me – helping someone realise a dream he had held on to for 15 years.
“Every problem or opportunity in life can be solved with an app. The reality is that everyone has great ideas and we don’t want our firm to be limited to massive companies and corporations.”
Launched in 2011 by Bandara and close friend Shane Perera, who is now the company’s chief technical officer, Elegant Media prides itself on offering a personal touch.
“People come to us with really unique and creative ideas, but they don’t know where to start,” Bandara says. “They don’t know how to convert their concept into a million-dollar business, so our job is to talk about their concept and show them the path.”
“Every problem or opportunity in life can be solved with an app.”
The path for Bandara and Perera began in 2010, when the old schoolmates first tossed around the idea of getting into app development.
Both moved to Australia from Sri Lanka in the mid-2000s to study; Bandara at Charles Sturt University and Perera at Swinburne University.
“We started with a static website for tradesmen in 2010,” Bandara recalls. “Initially, we put in $1600 for a mailout campaign to electricians and plumbers in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
“By 2011, the trend was moving to apps, so we decided to get into app development. The profit margin in the first couple of years wasn’t great and everything we made we put back into the business.”
From those humble beginnings, Elegant Media now has 45 staff across offices in Melbourne, Sri Lanka and San Francisco.
In 2016, the team’s reputation was further enhanced when Elegant Media became the only app development company in Australia to receive ISO 9001 certification – the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system (QMS).
Organisations use the standard to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
Among the more than 1000 apps Elegant Media has created is an augmented realitybased app for staff induction at the ATO.
“When new staff receive training and induction materials in writing, it can be a little bit boring and hard to get through,” Bandara says. “You can never be sure if new members have read it properly, so this is an innovative and interactive way of learning and development for ATO staff.
“Plenty of companies come to us trying to improve their business processes and productivity and we take their case study, analyse it and provide them with a solution.”
From passionate individuals with a dream to multinationals and government departments, Elegant Media is creating streamlined apps to suit a range of clients.
“We [soon] won’t need to carry wallets in the traditional sense,” Bandara says. “All of our information will be held in our mobile device. We’re working on high-quality apps that will eventually replace everything we carry around.”
One piece of advice
“You need to learn how to survive in difficult situations. Patience is the biggest weapon. A lot of people start businesses, but they collapse because they don’t have patience.”