The brains behind math tutoring outfit Talgo Education, Savindri Talgodapitiya wants to inspire students to have passion and respect for the subject.
We love entrepreneurs and small business owners at Honeycombers, which is why we’ve created Launchpad, a comprehensive digital networking platform (with IRL benefits, too) that encourages connection, business support and community. It’s a privilege and pleasure to learn from so many talented and inspiring folks, so we’ve decided to share the love by interviewing some of the lovely Launchpad members. Looking for inspiration? Check out how Savindri Talgodapitiya, the founder of Talgo Education, gets it done like a boss.
What is your backstory and why did you decide to launch your business?
I launched my business rather randomly in May 2013. I was working a 9-to-5 corporate job in Colombo, Sri Lanka when I took a girls’ trip to Vietnam. I had my data roaming switched on throughout this two-week trip and I came home to an insane bill. While I disputed this with the phone company, I was adamant to find the cash to pay it off on my own, which led me to think of doing a second job.
I started tutoring a friend’s sibling over the weekends; I really enjoyed it and my student’s grades went from D to A in her IGCSEs a year later. This inspired me to continue tutoring. I was struggling with corporate structures in my day job, so in 2016, I quit to go full-time. I ran my business in Colombo for nearly six years until I moved to Singapore in 2022 to join my spouse.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was transitioning my business from Colombo to Singapore. The idea of moving my small business, when I was at the top of my game in Colombo, added a lot of emotional stress. Being from Colombo, I had the network and resources to easily grow my business. The thought of starting from scratch in a new place was scary.
In Singapore, I was a complete newcomer. Considering the reputation that Singapore has for its intense culture of education, I had to deal with my own self-doubt. A few months after I moved, I put in the paperwork to get started, telling myself I’d regret it if I didn’t try. I’m happy to say my business has grown and the Singaporean culture has inspired me to look at my craft in a more innovative manner.
But I also faced logistical challenges: learning the ropes in a new country and figuring out how things are done here. I’m still working on this – I’m getting more familiar and things are getting better.
How do you stay motivated and energised?
I try to break my tasks into small doable pieces when I have a major backlog or a big project coming up. Getting something done every day and ticking off that to-do list helps. I also try to envision my end goal. When I do that, I can figure out and draw that mental roadmap of how I’ll get there. It’s still scary and nerve-wracking though.
How do you keep stress levels low?
In my first months as a business owner, I wasn’t able to sleep. I’d stare at my Excel sheet when a student quit my classes – even if it was due to an independent reason I had no control over. I don’t consider myself to be spiritual or religious, but I was raised as a Buddhist.
In Buddhism, you learn about the eight vicissitudes of life: gain and loss, good and ill repute, praise and censure, and pain and pleasure. This has been my guide to keeping stress levels low as an entrepreneur. I tell myself all this is part of running a business; there’ll be high cashflow seasons, and there’ll be low ones. Sometimes, all you can do is have foresight and prepare for them.
Favourite place to work?
Home in my study. I’m very easily distracted, so familiar surroundings in the quietness of my home help.
Can you share a work mantra that you use?
My daily mantra is “Do what you can do” on a daily basis. Some days, I’m super productive and get many tasks done. On other days, I’m just not with it. But I try to at least do something simple every day. I resolved very early in my entrepreneurial career to stop being too harsh on myself when things don’t always work out.
One thing you can keep talking about for hours?
The role that math plays in our world. I can go on about the importance of your child mastering mathematics at an early stage, or the importance of developing a liking towards mathematics, how it’s used in every aspect of our lives, and all the related topics.
Your go-to self-care activity?
Gym and fitness. I try to exercise regularly. It makes me feel stronger physically which helps give me a clear head and keep all those anxious voices at bay.
One piece of advice to your younger self?
Trust yourself and have more faith in your potential and ability. Too many moments of self-doubt in my life have been completely unnecessary.
Get in touch with Savindri Talgodapitiya online.
Launchpad is a comprehensive digital networking platform (with IRL benefits, too) that encourages connection, business support and community. It is designed to make the entrepreneurial journey not only easier, and more successful, but also a whole lot more fun. We offer almost daily activities for members to connect, along with weekly masterclasses, member networking roulette, small-business mentoring and media profiles on Honeycombers. Check it out and join us!