Gobinthiran was born in Vanni, Sri Lanka, in 1997. Life threw him a lot of challenges – he changed schools 9 times while moving homes 21 times during the height of the war and ended up losing everything except for one bag.
Amidst all this, he saw a computer for the 1st time in 2005 and was enamored by what it was able to do. Someone told him about the search engine “Google” in 2009, and he started learning everything he could including software design, web design & graphic design. He spent all his spare time hanging around in internet cafes. He started doing projects locally and earning a few hundred Rupees for it. His mother and aunt pawned their jewellery and bought him his own computer in 2011. There was a catch – there was no power in his home, so the computer was left at his aunt’s house in Vavuniya. He would go there for the weekends and come home to attend school on weekdays. After some time, the power came to his village so he brought the computer and kept it at a neighbor’s house, which he would use for one hour a day.
After school, he worked in the industry for 5 years including networking within the Yarl IT Hub community which exposed him to overseas clients. In August 2019, he got his first UX design project from the US via LinkedIn. He finished it in 5 days with almost no sleep and was paid about $1,500. That gave him the confidence to continue building his company, which has completed 60+ projects, worked with 40+ clients from 16+ countries!
I read your story and it’s a powerful one. What drove you specifically to start HUEX Studio?
My first business was selling GTA Vice City cheat codes at game centers to play games. It taught me – if I make money I could do whatever I like. After that, I worked at the construction sites for 1000 LKR a day. My life goal is to travel around the world and experience different cultures and food. In order to do this, I need money + I have a passion for designing, so I merged the two.
Tell us about your experience with the Yarl IT Hub community as it seemed to be a transformative one for you.
During my teenage years, I wasn’t clear on how I could achieve my goals and work toward my dream life. I tried different things and nothing really helped. One day, I was invited by my school to participate in the Yarl Geek Challenge Junior 4 (2015). I built a website (WordPress-based) that was a bus timetable system to participate in the competition. I didn’t do it to win as I ended up meeting so many mentors and it opened my eyes to a great future. I met the below-mentioned people who significantly impacted my life:
- I met Miller Alexander Rajendran, who introduced me to User Experience (UX).
- I met Alagan Mahalingam who gave internship opportunity at his company (01 Tech)
- I met Jeythan Tharmakulasingam who gave us space at their office (SenzMate) to build my company.
- I met Mohamed Zajith who is our first full-time employee.
- I met Jarachanthan Ratnakumar who is one of our current core members at HUEX STUDIO.
- We are selected for the YIT Accelerator program which provides dedicated mentors and guidance towards success, there I met Mr.Giritharan, who is currently helping me a lot.
I read about your experience about the limited time you had access to a computer because of power limitations in your village (making those trips back and forth to your aunt’s house or having access for 1 hour a day at your neighbors). Tell us about what you learned both knowledge-wise and about yourself personally, during that time?
I would say, never give up, go, and work for your passion. Look for opportunities around you, there are plenty of them. Be wise to utilize it.
Where do you see the business and yourself in the next 5 years?
I want to share the success with the people who are with me now, including Mr.Jarachanthan Ratnakumar, Abiseban Pirapahran & Sagana Naguleswaran who have been extremely wonderful to work with. Without them, I would not be able to run the business. Together we are planning to expand our team to 40+ people and launch products to the global market, I am currently pursuing my degree at the University of Moratuwa and I want to graduate with good grades. My goal is to travel to at least 10 countries.
I know you are in the services space, have you ever thought about “productizing” your services with any of the projects you’ve worked on?
Yes, we are always brainstorming and researching a few product ideas and hope to launch our first one to the global market in the coming years.