Isura said it best ‘I’ve met SARATH only once. But feels like known him for ages’. I met Sarath Sathiamoorthy a few times but I also felt like I’d known him forever through his innovative use of social media for business. The last time I saw him I was buying flowers for my mother at his shop, the Bloom Room. He said he was limiting his work hours for health reasons, though he looked as active and vibrant as ever. Yesterday, however, he died. Sarath Sathiamoorthy has passed away.
Almost any Sri Lankan on Twitter or the like knows Sarath through @cocoveranda. That coffee-shop was one of the first brands to intelligently and respectfully use social media. Coco was actually interesting and responsive in terms of customer service, it wasn’t just another marketing channel.
I think the reason was Sarath. Sarath was an innovative businessman, involved in everything from agriculture to flowers to coffee to bottled water. He was also a nice and decent guy, always personable and friendly. That was always communicated, no matter what the medium.
Look, Coco Veranda and Bloom Room were expensive and I went there infrequently, but I found myself going there for special occasions because A) the stuff was qual and B) Sarath was accessible if I had any issues. And I don’t mean accessible in the sense that I knew the owner and could machang stuff, he was accessible to anyone simply because it was better business and he was that sort of guy. The technology didn’t make him that way, he was that way and he happened to use technology. He was social and social media came naturally.
Sarath Sathiamoorthy was incredibly important to the Sri Lankan online community because he showed us how businesses could succeed online. That it’s not about companies having a Facebook page and offering deals to people but more about companies just showing up and being likable friends and citizens. When so many businesses focus on likes or clicks, Sarath remained focused on human relationships and trust, and it’s important for everyone to remember that this is ultimately the point.
Now that he has passed, of course, his most valuable contributions have been as a husband and a father and friend. What is telling, however, is that so many people consider him a friend. I remember him not as a businessman or an online presence but as a friend. Sarath Sathiamoorthy was 39 years old. He will be sorely missed.