Jason Weerasuriya was not looking to start a business when he returned home to Dubai from Australia when the pandemic brought the world to a halt. As online classes became the new normal for this University of Melbourne undergrad, he soon realized that he couldn’t find a journal or planner that fit his needs.
Most of the journals on the market missed a personalized book outline that Weerasuriya preferred. That’s exactly what his small business, Go Beyond, tries to address.
“I was like ‘Wait, I could just design one myself.’ So, that’s what I did,” Weerasuriya said. His planners and journals are organized into sections that include a timetable, a goal box, a to-do list area, and even a space for self-reflection.
According to Psychology Today magazine, journaling and using planners can be an effective way to destress. It can also help build healthy habits for people who struggle with anxiety. Weerasuriya realized he wanted to create a homegrown brand that offered planners and journals that anyone could use. His small online business designs planners and journals in order to encourage people to live more productively while putting themselves first.
After researching the market and asking what people wanted to see in a planner, he launched Go Beyond’s website in March with one simple planner as the company’s first product. He described the launch as a simple process with the help of his family and close friends.
“I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do with it,” said Weerasuriya, who is studying criminology and hopes to practice law one day. “We wanted to make a planner that’s for everyone.”
He markets mainly on social media. Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have greatly helped his business get exposure, as some of his TikToks have gained more than 1,000 views.
Since its launch, Go Beyond has shipped more than 100 journals/planners to more than six countries. The company offers free shipping and customizations on the journals and planners in the form of affirmations and quotes to keep users motivated.
If the order is local he drives out to deliver the product. “I think it would be more of a personal touch to the brand,” said Weerasuriya during a Zoom interview.
However, as shipping costs have increased due to the pandemic, Go Beyond has not been able to ship to some countries like Canada due to the high cost. He aims to give a unique customer experience while selling his products at an affordable price.
“It really brings back my memories of how I used to use a diary for my school,” said Abdullah Aziz, a customer who lives in the U.A.E. He studies actuarial science at Western University in London, Ont. He buys his planners and journals from Go Beyond when he visits home on breaks.
Weerasuriya is looking to expand his business and hopes to include an apparel line in the future. He is also preparing to offer shipping to Canada this month. Although he is a first-time business owner, he believes he will be able to reach customers who want the personalized experience his home-grown brand offers.
“I think a product like this has a great starting point in Canada because people are generally very open to trying out new stuff,” Aziz said.