Sri Lanka and the Road to Coconut Entrepreneurship

Sri Lanka is known for its idyllic looks and beautiful scenery, surf hotspots, Ceylon teas, and its premier spices. But Sri Lanka has quite a tumultuous past when it comes to natural catastrophes and conflicts. To date, Sri Lanka has survived a bloody civil war, a devastating tsunami, a constitutional coup, an economic meltdown.  Floods, droughts and countless religious conflicts are also part of its history.

I know Sri Lanka for its amazing retreats, recreation, generosity, hospitality, friendliness, and their non-judgemental way of approaching life.  I give kudos for their smart way of doing business! And by the way, I learned a lot from their “oriental” and “cyclical time perception” which is opposed to the Western “linear” approach to time.

In a Buddhist culture not only time but life itself goes around in a circle. Whatever we plan, however we organize, generation follows generation; governments and rulers will succeed each other; crops will be harvested; monsoons, earthquakes and other catastrophes will recur; taxes will be paid; the sun and moon will rise and set; stocks and shares will rise and fall. Even rushing things cannot change these events.

Actually I “landed” in Sri Lanka, the land of Serendipity, in 2012. I was living as an expatriate in Zurich (Switzerland) as startup consultant and project manager and wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in India on a yoga retreat. I often plan a holiday in a tropical place on my own, to “reset,” and start the year afresh.  Unintentionally, and by a weird coincidence, I booked a ticket to Sri Lanka for a yoga retreat instead. Don’t ask me why, it just happened.

The thought sprouted after my yoga experience in the ashram in India in 2006 where I wanted spread the Eastern knowledge of healing herbs and spices to the West. I wanted to put all the knowledge of Ayurveda, self-healing oils spices and herbs packed into one bottle and present it to Europe and the US.

When actually landed in Sri Lanka I learned about the healing powers of coconuts, indigenous non-GMO spices with real flavours, eco-friendly agricultural knowledge and sustainable plantation management skills. Some meetings with the right people let me decide to shift the focus from Ayurvedic herbs to coconuts to startup Avaera. To learn about the culture, their resources and way of doing business, I launched a batch of coconut oil under my Avaera label in a lean startup and began to sell online. Needless to say, that I learned loads–at the cost of my own wallet–something that has been extremely worthwhile.   

Since then, it has been quite a rollercoaster ride! Let’s do the math.  Hitherto I have experienced: 2 yoga retreats, 1 acro yoga TTC, 2 ayurvedic retreats, 2 New Years’ Eve in Sri Lanka, 2 holidays, 2 business trips, 1 year expat life in Colombo, 1 attack of fever from dengue flu, 12 different factory visits, 4 social mission projects visits, 3 completed company videos, 72 business meetings, 2 interns, 4 potential product portfolio developments, 8 Sri Lankan potential commercial collaborations, 3 R&D managers, 13 sample developments, 2 logistical and e-fulfillment partner before I landed in the coconut water business.

Now as we speak (2019) I created some Avaera labelled flavoured coconut water drinks (organic, duhuh) combined with a social mission to replant coconut trees in Sri Lanka in cooperation with Thuru. The designer coconut water is especially tailored to the boutique hotels, bars, restaurants and aviation companies. Currently we are also collaborating on a cookbook  with Cafe Kumbuk in Colombo.

It was a heavenly road of entrepreneurship. Any startup is challenging, but doing it the lean way requires some out of the box thinking. The Western focus on deadlines must shift to sensing  just the right timing. Yet, setting up a business in and with Sri Lanka demands perseverance, quirky humor and definitely some craziness and major resilience. No retreat or yoga experience can teach you what I have learned throughout the years of product development and exotic entrepreneurship. I am really happy to bring my Eastern flavors packed in a bottle for you to refresh you during every moment of your day. Actually I hope you feel a zest of the Sri Lankan vibe when you drink our Avaera labeled coconut waters.

Stay tuned and join our community by following us at @avaeracocos and @avaera_martina. You can also sign up for our newsletter on the bottom right side of this page!

One thought on “Sri Lanka and the Road to Coconut Entrepreneurship

  1. Thank you for posting my drone shot! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *