Editor’s Note: Follow along every day as 19 distinguished individuals receive honorary degrees and the academic accomplishments of hundreds of students are celebrated as Western hosts its 313th Convocation.
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Udara Jayawardena, BSc’19 (Bioinformatics), gets straight to the point when you ask him what he does: “I write code, design things, and dabble in genomics.”
The Sri Lanka-born Jayawardena is also hoping he is building the next great tool for teams.
The recent Western grad arrived on campus with a budding entrepreneurial spirit. At 14, he founded the art and design magazine Designn. “To this day, it’s one of my most cherished creations,” he said. “But my background in design has become an ongoing part of everything I do.”
Jayawardena chose Western based on his ability simultaneously study Computer Science and Genetics – plus “the campus looked amazing.”
While at Western, the self-taught designer/developer founded company after company – first Tidl Inc. in 2016 and then Alcamy, an open self-learning platform. This past year, the latter was acquired by Parsegon Inc., an algorithm company focused on educational management and content generation.
Jayawardena has also worked with organizations including Shopify, the Ontario Liberal Party, Stanford University, Candor USA Inc., Aura Eco Power and Westerns’ Propel Entrepreneurship while, at the same time, working on his degree.
“I would sit at Propel from morning to evening, leave for class, they come back again,” he laughed. “There are a lot of like-minded people there, most who end up being interested in taking their ideas to the next level. It was a nice culture to be able to work on your start-up.
“I got into serious startups once I got here, in my first year. It wasn’t related to my classes but I really enjoyed it and it’s where I made most of my friends, and created most of my experiences, while at Western.”
Today, Jayawardena is busy working on his latest start-up, Clew, a software tool that helps teams keep themselves and their materials organized. He is working with Ivey Business School grad Haishan Qian on this latest endeavour.
“One of the biggest problems, especially with tech companies, is they use many different tools to get their work done,” he said.
Teams work with numerous pieces of information across several platforms – a snippet of text, an Invision design, a Jira ticket, Intercom message, GitHub pull request, Google Drive document, or an image. Clew brings all that together – searchable – within a single space.
“Teams spend a lot of time searching and sharing files with each other across these tools. Clew combines these tools and links them to work together.”
The business is drawing attention – so much so that he missed his Convocation ceremony.
“I really wanted to be there,” Jayawardena said. “But we’re pretty busy taking a lot of meetings while we raise funds. I had a few meetings the same day as graduation.”