Sri Lankan start-up ideas getting better, scope widening

ECONOMYNEXT – A group of angel investors supporting Sri Lankan entrepreneurs said start-up business plans were getting better with ideas for businesses across a wider range of sectors in their latest funding round.

The entrepreneur empowerment platform, Venture Engine, has ended its “Call for Entries” having received an “overwhelming response from an ever expanding pool of potential participants,” a statement said.

“Also noteworthy, the quality and variety of submissions received in 2016 has signalled a definite increase in the level of sophistication in terms of both better conceived business plans as well as a widening scope of sectors being explored.”

Entries for Venture Engine have encompassed Tech/IT/ICT, Tourism, Ecommerce, Food and Beverages, Logistics, Tourism, Retail, and Education, amongst other sectors, in 2016, the statement said.

“Now in its fifth year, Venture Engine has naturally evolved in its scope, with a focus towards showcasing only the best and brightest ideas and talent today,” said Prajeeth Balasubramanium, Founding General Partner and Managing Director of Blue Ocean Ventures, who helped start the initiative.

Venture Engine also completed its first round of filtering by regional and local angel investors on May 24, where business plan review was held with shortlisted prospects being invited to continue with the program.

“The next step for continuing participants is a 2-minute “Elevator Pitch” scheduled for June 2, where contenders have the opportunity to convince, and maybe even wow, a panel of highly experienced and respected angel investors,” the statement said.

The Venture Engine panel comprises Eric Wikramanayake, Chairman of Lankan Angel Network; Prajeeth Balasubramanium, Founding General Partner and Managing Director of Blue Ocean Ventures; Ruwindhu Peiris, Managing Director of Stax Consulting; Dumindra Ratnayake, Former CEO of Etisalat Sri Lanka; Dumith Fernando, Chairman of Asia Securities; Jeevan Gnanam, CEO of Orion City; Anarkali Moonesinghe, CEO of CIMB; Arj Wignaraja, Managing Director of Remote Sensing Metrics Asia; Linda Speldewinde, Founder and Managing Director of Academy Of Design (AOD); and Vinod Hirdaramani, Director of Hirdaramani Group.

Regional investors included representatives of Aavishkhaar, KfW and the Indian Angel Network.

The mentor panel aims to identify the most innovative business ideas and advise them on how to grow locally and regionally.





Even if a business plan is not fully thought through, participants will still have the opportunity to continue with the Venture Engine program.

This is if their business idea is unique enough or should they show the outstanding skills and commitment to succeed at all costs that is vital for any stellar entrepreneurial talent, the statement said. 

“However, even if one’s business plan does not go through to the next round, the advice provided by this mentor panel will enable budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to reassess and restructure their proposal and apply again later to the Lankan Angel Network for future funding opportunities.”

Conceptualised by Blue Ocean Ventures, in collaboration with the Indian Angel Network, Venture Engine is run by strategic partner Lankan Angel Network, and backed by platinum sponsors Expolanka Holdings, Orion City, Dialog and Aavishkaar, supported by KfW, a German-government owned development bank.

To date, over 20 companies have achieved success as a result of Venture Engine, having been mentored and funded, to the tune of US$ 6 million, over the last four years.

They include, Trekurious, OMAK Technologies, Ridgecrest (, Saraii (eco-village), Extrogene, Nithya, Katha, Wild Trails (eco-adventure), House of Lonali, Glitteray, Threadsol (IntelloCut), Lanka BPO Academy, MyWish (weddings), Push Skateboards, Healthy Living, Zacki Herbal Products,, Endemic and 24-7 Techies.
(COLOMBO, May 25 2016)

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