Dilip’s journey

I’m Dilip Ramachandran and one of the founders of Nimi. I’m originally from Sri Lanka and grew up in Colombo until I moved to the US about 20 years ago. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and a will to work. However, it was a difficult market, especially for immigrants. I worked as a part-time worker at the university bookstore, and it took me an extra year to get a full-time role. Due to my situation, I wasn’t picky about where I started. I just needed a job so I could start building towards a future.

 

The first job at comScore, a startup that ultimately went IPO, introduced me to the excitement of building software products, and I never looked back. I spent over a decade honing my craft and building a career in product management at companies like Walmart.com, GoodData, Experian, Reputation.com, Marqeta and Bond. These were opportunities to significantly impact building software products in the MarTech and FinTech spaces.

 

In this 15 year career in product management, I’ve concluded that in the United States, there’s so much grit, and innovation and ideas. But there is a supply gap of talented, driven, high-quality engineers to execute those ideas. So as you can imagine, every startup I was with was able to raise money and articulate a very compelling strategy to the board. But we sat around for months hiring engineers competing with the big players like Google and Facebook.

 

Many companies started to outsource and used this added benefit of diversity to learn from each other and build better products. Over the last decade, I worked with developers from Israel, India, Eastern Europe, and it worked exceptionally well.

 

And in 2020, I started to wonder to myself, why have I never considered working with engineers from Sri Lanka…?

 

Karthik’s journey

I’m Karthik Ramachandran, the other founder of Nimi. I was born in the misty hills of Badulla and grew up in Colombo. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering Technology from SRM Engineering College, Chennai, India. I further pursued a professional degree in marketing from CIM UK. My passion has been using sustainable technologies in production, thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint during manufacturing.

 

Over the years, through my work at Jayes for over 20 years, we have partnered with global sustainable giants for cleaning & sanitation, taste and nutrition, plastic and rubber modifiers, process additives & stabilisers. This is in addition to chemical raw materials, ingredients, additives, and solvents for any commodity required. The list, in reality, is quite exhaustive. Over the last 4 decades, Jayes has been an integral vendor/solution provider to the Sri Lankan manufacturing sector.

 

The future is to eliminate the carbon footprint and reduce waste. Food, textiles, oil and plastics contribute to 80% of global wastage and pollution. Most of these wastes negatively impact habitat and our standards of living. 

 

Since 2010, we’ve seen the rise of digital transformation – how technology can improve efficiency and reduce waste and our impact on the environment. I watched many great brands build their KPO, BPO and IT solutions and helped foreign companies grow. I wanted to diversify the Jayes portfolio for a very long time. During COVID, I felt compelled to not wait any longer. It was time and my responsibility to give back to Sri Lanka by investing in the IT industry. This caused the paradigm shift in our thought process of starting a new venture; a pilot project that will reshape our focus on the next 50 years.

 

The nexus and how we came together

When the pandemic happened, I think many people thought about the purpose in life, what they’re doing, where they’re going, and how they will get there. Then, in early 2020, we faced a tragic event, one we wouldn’t wish upon our worst enemies, and it really started to change the way we were thinking and our approach to life.

 

We started to think about how time is limited. We needed to make sure we stopped focusing on accumulating assets. Instead, we wanted to focus on giving back. We didn’t exactly know what we wanted to do at that time. We thought about all types of businesses. Karthik and I would get on a call and go through a list. Discuss pros and cons, and then we’d reconvene for another time.

 

And then, I brought up the idea of staff augmentation. So, again, creating opportunities for Sri Lankans and at the same time helping founders in my network get access to the Sri Lankan IT workforce, so they can grow faster.

 

When Karthik got wind of this, he was hooked.

 

What we did about it

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island paradise, a country filled with highly educated, English-speaking, driven, talented people. But they don’t have access to these opportunities you find in the west. They don’t have access to an environment where they could really push themselves to grow as they’ve never done before. And for Karthik and I, when we discussed this topic, it was kind of a no brainer. We had to do it. We had to go down this path by connecting these two worlds and doing the best we could in helping individuals and their families one at a time. 

 

We started this journey in early 2021. And we’ve grown slowly. We’ve kept a very close eye on expenses. We wanted to build a boutique, generational company with the culture we always dreamed of. Every hire was meticulously discussed and debated to ensure that this person would fit within our values to work as a team, take risks and debate. These fundamental values are the foundation of our company, and they’re the foundation of Nimi. 

 

And fast forward now, we are over 10 people, and we’re planning to get to around 20 in the next few months. The journey has not been easy because we were building a company during a pandemic and a 6-week intense lockdown in Sri Lanka. But this pain has been totally worth it. For each person we’ve interviewed, we have met them and their families in person – and so we know the impact we are having locally in Sri Lanka.

 

We feel fantastic about building a transformational company like Nimi. We’re helping have a good discussion about opportunity and using the dialogue and our hiring practices to dispel this bias. We’re not just filling jobs for foreign clients. Instead, we are explicitly looking to unleash untapped potential with each underrepresented hire. We think about growing someone rather than kicking them out of our interview process.

 

In that regard, our mission is much broader than any old staffing firm. We are reinvesting all the profits back into growing the youth of Sri Lanka. We hope to divert at least a few of these young, intelligent minds away from working as service workers in the Middle East. We want them to upskill themselves, and we want them to live in Sri Lanka, contribute to the economy and their families for a better life.

 

We are so dedicated to this mission and life journey and have never worked so hard at a company, and we don’t even take a salary. We strive for the mission – to have a generational impact in IT industry inclusion in Sri Lanka.

 

This is an incredible time to join Nimi or partner with Nimi and be the change that we wish to see in this world.