February, 6, 2020
While Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem has grown rapidly, it is still very much focused in Colombo. Through workshops and seminars to be held island wide, Lankan Angel Network (LAN) will educate rural communities on how innovation and entrepreneurship can help create jobs and boost the economy. Entrepreneurs that innovate or build for a clear need/pain-point have a greater chance for global success.
Held at the Colombo Innovation Tower (CIT), the panel was sponsored by eco-system development partner Ford Foundation, which helps develop and build the ecosystem by responding to inequality and building on innovations driven by the communities, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and universities. This session titled “The Rs. 3 Billion Startup Acquisition – Evening of Revelation” also noted how Zilingo is on the way to becoming a unicorn in South East Asia, the number of jobs it has created in seven countries, and how it empowers low income factory workers.
“One of the key elements contributing to our success was the ability to leverage our significant experience across several multinational companies to spur ourselves to be more confident and innovative,” said Imal Kalutotage, Chief Executive Officer, nCinga Innovations. “Second, and perhaps even more important, we identified a niche problem that existed, and found a way to provide solutions that were practical and effective.”
Reuben Noronha, Head of Monetization for Zilingo, emphasized the importance of finding the right partners to grow. “We are constantly trying to be disruptive and innovative, and so we were on the lookout for a team that shared the same values and that’s how we came across nCinga. What really excited us wasn’t just their product but our shared vision, passion, and courage. Success revolves around finding the right team and partners who are on the same wavelength as you are.”
"The Lankan Angel Network has been bringing startups and investors together since 2012. We're honored to host nCinga and Zilingo teams for the first time in Sri Lanka and share their knowledge and experience with a wider audience. The next 10 years will see many success stories such as nCinga and LAN will be playing a vital role in fueling the growth through its 2030 vision," noted eminent corporate leader Mano Sekaram. Mr. Sekaram is the Chairman of Lankan Angel Network, the Founder of StartupX Foundry and the Founder/CEO of 99X Technologies.
Meanwhile, Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-Founder of Sri Lanka-Singapore based Venture Capital fund BOV Capital, which partners with Sri Lankan startups to grow regionally, highlighted the need for startups to look outside Sri Lanka for even greater growth. “Lankan founders have very special skills in computer science. This skill set combined with speed and passion gives the edge to scale fast in frontier markets where technology is still being adopted,” he said. “Thus, local startups must always be mindful of scaling regionally and help create a mark for the country as a regional technology and innovation hub.”
“As a design entrepreneur who’s worked closely with the fashion industry over the years, I can say that innovators like nCinga are what’s needed for the industry to drive the next wave of growth. Meaningful innovation that has an actual impact is what matters in the end. Colombo Innovation Tower's view is that design and technology together is what drives real innovation, and it cannot be done in isolation. It requires an ecosystem to thrive and CIT plays this role by connecting startups, innovators, industry players, talent and also investors, mentors etc.,” Linda Speldewinde, Sri Lankan Design Entrepreneur, Founder & Chairperson of Design Corp group of companies.
Hosted by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN), this historic knowledge sharing session highlighted an extraordinary scenario in Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem, combining the cold hard facts of a business case with the valuable insights provided by all parties taking part in this landmark deal. The Network is a platform for angel and private investors who invest in high growth early stage Sri Lankan ventures with the aim of creating an impact be reducing inequality. LAN provides mentorship and funding for the entrepreneurs, streamlined deal flow and structured guidance to the investors until exit. LAN is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs.