Angelo De Silva - Riding The Rollercoaster Of Entrepreneurship
When the Entrepreneur met up with Angelo De Silva, it soon became apparent that Angelo is, in fact, the very epitome of the quintessential Entrepreneur who has continued to rise, learning at every turn from his past mistakes, to become a trailblazer in innovation and leadership.
It is rare that you find a young innovator in this day and age that has ridden the rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship, managing to not only hold on and resurface unscathed but instead thrive through trial and tribulation.
Angelo began his journey in entrepreneurship out of necessity to assist his family, at the young age of 17 years. His first venture was to provide students with English language classes for Elocution and IELTS in the hopes of pursuing a career shortly after as a lawyer. Little did he realise then that this innate love for teaching would one day catapult him to lead one of Sri Lanka’s globally sought after brands that provide Performance consulting, immersive training and people analytics – Sandbox.
Prior to starting Sandbox in 2014, Angelo endeavoured into several ventures, all rooted in knowledge sharing, letting his passion for teaching guide him through his entrepreneurial path to success.
By the age of 20 years, Angelo had a thriving IELTS mass classroom set up in five  locations around Colombo and had just been accepted into Law College. In the three  short years that ensued Angelo had completed his education at Law College; become a resource person for several local universities; a Consultant for Sri Lanka Insititute of Marketing (SLIM); and wrote Study texts for SLIM titled ‘Business English & Personality Development’ and ‘Project Management – Post Graduate Diploma’.
It was shortly after that, Angelo received an opportunity to be a copywriter for a children’s English curriculum TV show, named ‘English Class for Me’. Angelo fondly reminisces this particular career move – “I took the job. I said goodbye to becoming an Attorney-at-Law. I had to make that choice and the good thing is that I made it overnight. My mother still asks me when am I going to go become a Lawyer”.
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However, Angelo soon realised that his steep growth and success would lead to a heavy toll on his mental health, as his career as a copywriter ended quickly. At the age of 24 years, Angelo had to overcome crippling depression due to personal circumstances, that affected both his personal and professional life. Shortly after realigning himself, Angelo then began working at Dialog Axiata to eventually Lead the Group Training & Development, further honing his skills in both operations as well as management.
At 27 years he went on to found Technics InterMedia – Sri Lanka’s first privately-owned children’s television production company which went on hiatus four  years later, becoming another crucial point of learning along Angelo’s journey to success. “Nearly 8 years later, we are now aiming to relaunch this programme – utilising YouTube. We have no regrets and believe in the importance of knowledge sharing. Once a teacher always a teacher. I didn’t shift focus. I was a teacher at one point, took it to a national TV level and now we are taking production-grade experiences to corporates.”
Sandbox was founded in 2014 and was created to evolve learning and development in the corporate world with the use of immersive experiences and management technology that was original and developed in Sri Lanka, changing the face of many industries. “If you ask people what they wanted, they would say give me a better Discman. They would not in their wildest dreams have imagined the pocketable iPod. That takes vision. That isn’t filling a need, this is where you create a need for something better. Sandbox created a valid need and our success speaks for itself”.
Sandbox delivers performance consulting, taking Sri Lankan innovation to a global platform. “The best innovations come out of necessity”. The vision for Sandbox is to anticipate needs or problems and find solutions for them in a timely fashion, pioneering innovative excellence.
Concluding Angelo told the Entrepreneur that his “drive has always been to do something new. It isn’t about replicating something that works in a different country it’s about innovating and pushing the envelope of what we know.” Angelo admittedly made a large number of mistakes during his early attempts as an entrepreneur, but he still believes that his passion for teaching is what has led him to his many successes over the years.
When asked about the most important lessons he learnt, Angelo shared “…be careful who you accept advice from. They may advise you from the heart, but they may not be able to see your vision to help you get to where you want to be. Validate your passion projects on whether they are feasible to aid you to sustain and make a difference. However, don’t make it about the money. It’s hard to do what matters whilst making good money. It takes maturity to understand this and to work in harmony.”
Angelo stands as a testament as the Entrepreneur who has tried, grown, succeeded, failed, reinvented himself and gone on to persevere through every curveball that has been thrown his way and has inspired many to follow their passions in a sustainable way, for the overall good of the industry.