Sri Lanka’s undisputed night life king
Sheran has established quite the empire with a range of unique and quirky venues, each displaying a persona of their own.
For many of Colombo’s night owls and party people, Sheran De Fonseka’s name is one that is all too familiar. Being the entrepreneur behind the formation of many of the island’s go-to party venues, Sheran has established quite the empire with a range of unique and quirky venues, each displaying a persona of their own. To find out more about the establishment, challenges and future developments involved with operating in such a space, we spoke to the nightlife king for more insight.
How did you first get into this industry?
It was an idea that my brother and I came across when we were in Dubai. We wanted to introduce that ideology to Sri Lanka as well with Flamingo House, Monkey Business, KAMA Mirissa and Midigama and Skky Bar and Lounge.
You are involved with the operations and management of many of Sri Lanka’s nightlife hotspots. Please list out for us the entities you are involved with and what functions you overlook
I co-own Flamingo House, Monkey Business, KAMA Mirissa and Midigama, which are located around the island, and we are also in the process of re- launching one of our old well-known brands, SKKY bar in Nawam Mawatha as well. The business entails a lot of micromanaging and requires investing our time and commitment to making sure the day to day operation runs evenly. However, the most essential part of our operation is dealing with our suppliers on a day to day basis and maintaining this close bond between organizations.
What are the challenges of operating in this industry?
Obtaining a liquor license is the initial challenge we must face before we can introduce our brand to the public, also providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain banking facilities in a more convenient manner since the government tends to misunderstand the impact which the entertainment industry has on the tourism industry. Finding the right caliber of people to represent our brand name and signature style is something that we strive for in order to maintain the quality of standards at all our establishments. Staying relevant is something that we work towards and fear as I’m sure everyone in this industry will tell you. Innovation is something people come looking for when they visit our establishments and we need to make sure we never disappoint in order to stay relevant. However, the constant modifications in state rule make our goals daunting due to the lack of encouragement for entrepreneurs in this industry to pursue and invest in.
Does each venue cater to different customer segments?
Yes. We wanted to make sure that our brands cater to all customer segments in the country in order to give the people an all-round experience of what we have to offer, and that is something we can confidently say we have more than accomplished.
Some say that nightlife in Colombo is more or less the same wherever you go. Is this true? Tell us about some differences seen across your venues.
Precisely why we have invented our venues based on a variety of themes. We wanted no two places to be the same and in doing so, this gave us the opportunity to expand our levels of creativity to better attract our new and current followers. We try to always implement new ideas into our establishments
In your opinion, what can this industry learn from other countries, namely the west?
The West is always an inspiration to us Asians. But we need to keep in mind that we get people from all over the world visiting our venues and they do not come looking for something they can get back at home. Instead we offer them something that we as islanders know too well and that is simply the tropical and islandic experience. It is always important to stick to our roots as that is what makes us stand out from the rest.
What new developments are in the pipeline for 2020?
We are in the process of re-launching SKKY Bar which is a rooftop bar located in the heart of Colombo. We felt that we could do a lot more with this establishment as this particular venue has major significant value to us which is why we are looking to expand it here in Colombo while looking to introduce the brand down South. And as always, we’re open to new opportunities that come our way.