A Decade On The Internet

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It’s weird to me that my life has broken down into two significant parts. Pre and Post internet. It’s amazing to me that I’ve found friends, that I’m yet to physically see follow me across the web from platform to platform for what seems to be close to a decade at this point.

For those of you that know me, honestly I’m humbled and still in awe that you’re reading the content I that I continue to create over the years, but for those of you that don’t know me, let me give some context.

My name is Bhanuka, I consider myself a weird mix between a storyteller, a capitalist and a bit of an opportunist. I feel like I’ve told my story so many times at this point that I don’t want to bore you with the details. If you’re interested in really understanding how I got here, there’s a video on the internet called “a story of a Sri Lankan Startup” which, as the name suggests covers well, the story of a Sri Lankan Startup.

Surge, a marketing agency that has matured quite well over the last 04 years. The video covers my story, a typical Asian student-type going through life, miserably failing at tests, not really fitting in and starting their own thing that eventually finds its feat. It’s got the whole thing, sound-tracks, emotional voiceovers and even a part of a TEDxTalk. What it doesn’t cover is, what lead me to do what it is that Ido. Which in my book is more fun and interesting than the story itself.

I’ve always been a massive fan of the Internet Super Highway or as the kids these day call it the Web. Okay, I’m not that old but, I never really grasped the severity of the concept of the internet till recently.

My parents moved to Melbourne when I was 4-5 years old, my dad was completing his Postgrad at the time. It was a bit of a culture shock from the island of Sri Lanka, but I think it worked out for the best. It was the year 2000 and we got ourselves a used windows 95pc. It was the shit back then, I didn’t really understand what you did with a computer besides playing video games and meddling around with WordArt, yes Word Art.

It was probably a few months later we got our first dial-up connection. I didn’t really use it as much but the one thing I remember my mom constantly nagging me to not over-use it because we get charged and it’s not safe on the internet, whatever that meant. A decade later, I got to find out that the reason she had said that was the fact she had fallen to a “you are the 1,000,000th visitor” scam back in the day and subscribed to a years supply of reader’s digest (or some magazine far more damaging).

The early 2000s were the time I really got into playing video games, my dad bought us, my brother and I a Nintendo 64 along with a copy of Pokémon Stadium (Which was soon swapped out for Stadium 2, because obviously) and Super Mario 64. I grew up with this device which I still have and cherish.

We came back home to Sri Lanka in 2002 and got an internet connection back home soon after. I wasn’t really invested in the internet till about another eight years when we got introduced to broadband connections and service providers were basically selling “unlimited” bandwidth.

WiFi was the cool new thing back then because you could play PvP on Age of empires and also the new Nintendo DS had it! I had to actually study for my grade seven/eight exams because my mom was smart enough to incentivize me with, well… cash. I’d make around $10.00 per subject every time I scored over a 90%. Considering there were 3 tests per year, 10 subjects and the fact that I had a birthday in the mix got me in the running for a Nintendo DS and a copy of Pokémon.

This was when it really started, I got into community games on Facebook with large groups of people, MMORPGs with massive worlds and made friends on Nintendo PictoChat, if you don’t know what that is, you’re really not cool enough.

My friends from Maple story, Ninja saga and all the other browser games at the time became my real friends. These were people all around the world that would for some reason understand the situations I was in and relate to me, they had context.

An old screen-grab from a YouTube video made 7 years ago

Naturally I lost interest over studying to become a doctor (to the utter disappointment of my family), and was more or less consumed by the internet. I always knew that there was something there, didn’t quite grasp what it was. I mean, every time I spoke to anyone about the people I met, the friends, the conquests and of course the weird ideas, everyone around me would just pass it off as some silly teenage banter, but to me it was real and it bothered me to no end that people really just didn’t get it.

I started a YouTube channel to share my experiences in the video games I was playing with the “friends” I had at the time and something magical started to happen. People started tuning in, I met more people and things started compounding. I started to see opportunities because I realized that so many people can’t really see the value of what’s in front of them or just don’t understand how to grab it. Surge was built a few years later to help businesses do just this, and that’s where I am today.

I get to travel around the world meeting some of the most amazing people out there, solving the type of problems I want to solve and I’m forever grateful for that.

Things started falling into place after the acquisition we went through last year. The learnings the heartache and the of course the suffering played a huge role, with a team that stuck by making all of this possible. Even though it’s been 04 years in the making, that story is just getting started. It’s unraveling fast, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

The team at Surge has grown beautifully over the years slowly building out a solid leadership team. The most exciting thing however, is starting today, Hayley Evans will be stepping up as the new CEO of Surge Global. I’ll be taking a different role, in terms of steering the business’ strategy focusing on innovation and growth. Together, we’ll be shaping the future of the business and how we want to “take over the world”.

I’ve always loved that feeling of starting a new character in a video game, I’ve understood where I thrive in is just that, seeking out opportunity and strategizing and to put it bluntly, capitalizing on it. Much like that what I’ve noticed is that there’s always going to be people around you with opportunities that present themselves. Some of these little ideas have actually turned out to interesting businesses and that’s what this blog is going to be about.

My inner economics nerd decided to call this blog “Seeding Alpha” as a pun on my favorite market watch site. Don’t really expect too much from this blog, it’s just a blank canvas for me to share the logic that runs through my head before I take a stab at something. It’s really a blog about economics, entrepreneurship, people. My sounding board if you will.

About the author

Bhanuka Harischandra

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