The Sri Lankan ecosystem has seen some uprising startup activity in the last couple of years. Prajeeth Balasubramanian and Rajan Anandan founded Blue Ocean Ventures has been at the forefront in terms of providing support to the startups along with the Indian Angel Network. In a recent announcement, Venture Engine which is a project by BOV and IAN, has invested $750k in ten Sri Lankan startups. Read the complete interview with Prajeeth to know about the Sri Lankan ecosystem and here is the list of startups followed by a conversation about the startups:
1) Saraii village hotel
2) Gliteray (Jewellery space)
3) Nithyarn (Funded round 1 via VE 2012, round 2 completed in 2013)
4) House of Lonali (Funded round 1 via VE 2012, round 2 completed in 2013)
In the process of getting funded
7) Red cocoon
8) Ace of Clubs (Digital music composer in concept stage)
9) School for children with learning disability
Here are excerpts from the conversation with Prajeeth:
YS: What are the strengths of the companies that VE has invested in?
PB: The greatest strength lies in the entrepreneurs ability. The selected business also had a unique concept. Eg Nithya uses the local hand loom and empowers the rural community, Saraii and Wild trails are eco sustainable hotels and again empowers the rural communities. Glitteray promotes Sri Lankan Gemstones with unique designs. Redcocoon and Lonali are both eco sustainable designer clothing. Lanka BPO has a first mover advantage.
2) For the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem, what would your word of advice be to the entrepreneurs?
PB: We look for the following in all startups:
- A good Business Plan
- Uniqueness of product or service offered
- Marketability of product or services offered
- Good financial forecast
The Entrepreneurs should have their skin in the game as it is high risk. They should have the following traits
-willingness to take risks
- Marketing, negotiating, selling skills (communication)
- Financial know-how
- Self motivation and Positive attitude
Most importantly the working relationship should be based on trust.