Ties that grow: 25 startups forge connections at the South Asia Youth Entrepreneur Summit (SAYES) in Bangalore

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Ahmad Niaz Murshed co-founded two digital advertising startups in Bangladesh, Maverick Studios and ICE9 Interactive. “One of our cricket videos was credited by the national team’s vice captain as being so inspiring that it helped them turn around a losing streak into a victory over England in the 2011 World Cup,” recalls Murshed.

Pema Chodin Tenzin is Co-Founder of YeeWong, Bhutan’s first and only women’s magazine. “Entrepreneurship is a tough slog in Bhutan, but we continue to feature and inspire women entrepreneurs,” says Tenzin.

Thaabit Ifthicaar Ahmed is Founder of TAFA (Thaabit Ahmed Football Academy) in Sri Lanka. “It is hard being a football coach in cricket-crazy Sri Lanka,” jokes Ahmed, but says football coaching can help reduce social barriers in a country just coming out of decades of civil war.

Murshed, Tenzin and Ahmed were among the 25 entrepreneurs who were in Bangalore for the two-day South Asia Young Entrepreneur Summit (aptly titled SAYES), and spoke at the closing ceremony this week. The event was organised by the TiE Bangalore Chapter and U.S. Consulate Chennai, with support from Infosys and IIM Bangalore.

The U.S. consulates chose 25 entrepreneurs for the networking and capacity building event held in Bangalore, from six countries: India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “The event exposed young entrepreneurs to regional business cooperation, possible funding opportunities and mentor networks,” said Naganand Doraswamy, President, TiE Bangalore Chapter.

The U.S. government is leveraging the entrepreneurship movement as a form of diplomacy. “We would like to see the startup culture spread across the world,” said Ariel Pollock, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate Chennai. Bangalore was chosen as the venue for the event due to its high international profile as an entrepreneurial and tech hotspot.

Professor G Sabarinathan, Chairperson of IIM Bangalore' incubation centre, N.S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), shared insights on the incubation process for startups, drawing on the experience of ArtFlute and Persept Solar, both incubatees at NSRCEL.

“The hardest part of this event was getting the delegates around Bangalore through its legendary traffic – harder than getting visas to come to India,” joked Madan Padaki, Tie Charter Member and catalyst of the event. It is hoped that this can become an annual event, with possible extension across Asia and even the rest of the world.

Here are brief profiles of some of the outstanding 25 entrepreneurs whose motto now is ‘SAY YES’ (SAYES)!

Sri Lanka

Chandika Jayasundara is Founder of Cinergix, a collaborative diagramming software company whose product Creately is used by customers such as NASA, Amazon and Salesforce.

Ahalya S. Rajan is Director of Worldwide Enterprises, which produces and markets the only natural mineral water in Sri Lanka.

Chamira Prasad Jayasinghe is an entrepreneur in human-computer interface solutions, and his firm Arimac delivers products for the FMCG, animation and education sector. Arimac has offices in Colombo and Sydney.

Nithya Yamini Lamahewa is Founder of the Nithya handloom fashions brand which aims to combine contemporary fashion and design knowledge.

Rukmankan Sivaloganthan is Founder of Trekurious, which helps people get access to amazing travel experiences via online design, curation and booking.

Shehan Selvanayagam is the CEO of Loops Solutions, a leading digital agency handling over 40 brands. He has over 10 years of experience in e-commerce.

Sheran Corera is Founder of Creative Learning, whose flagship product Layup is a SaaS based gamified training platform with deep brand integration.

Yasas V. Abeywickrama co-founded Lanka BPO Academy, the premier BPO training company in Sri Lanka. It also offers IT, financing and accounting services.

Bangladesh

Ahmad Niaz Murshed is Co-Founder of two companies: Maverick Studios and ICE9 Interactive, both specialising in developing advertising content. Maverick produces 3D animation, motion graphics and ICE9 produces interactive solutions like augmented reality. Their award winning viral video is called Bangladesh Cricket: Never Stop Believing. “This video united and inspired a nation. And this was all a labour of love. It led us to believe more in our work and pursue entrepreneurship,” says Murshed.

Ridwan Hafiz is cofounder of Analyzen, a digital agency which works with 50+ brands to build their strategy online and to engage customers via social media.

Bhutan

Pema Chodin Tenzin is Cofounder, CEO and Chief Editor of YEEWONG, Bhutan’s first and only women’s magazine. She also publishes the inflight magazine Kuzuzangpo La for Bhutan Airlines.

Pema Lhamo is cofounder of Imprint, a media and gifting business which leaves an impression on their customers to want more and keep coming back.

Maldives

Abdul Haseeb Ismail runs a pharmaceutical distribution business to cater medicine to the islanders, and also plans to set up an auditing firm with a group of friends.

Fathimath Numa Rasheed runs a retail shopping mart for basic necessities and a café, and plans on opening a chain of restaurants for the tourism industry.

Nepal

Saroj Karki is a mushroom farmer and team leader of Yuwa Saathi, a group of young entrepreneurs to develop professionalism. He is also Chief Editor of the Biratnagar city portal.

Santosh Pradhan is Founder and CEO of InterContinental Systems, a company that makes software solutions for financial markets specially focused on developing and underdeveloped economies.

India

Hemant Salunkhe is an entrepreneur and mentor, and Director of the Small and Medium Business Development Chamber of India.

Jay Prakash Sharma is the Founder of Lines N Curves, an interior designing company which provides custom interior designs.

Jeyageethan Arumainathan runs an IT services company catering to global clients, and provides SaaS products.

Nagasundar Jeganathan is Founder of TOSI (Taste of South India), a chain of restaurants in Dubai and looking to expand into Europe and America.

Priya Ramachandran runs Bucketlist Travel Company, which creates unique experiences via helping people get into the skin of the travel destination.

Shiju Radhakrishnan is Founder & CEO of iTraveller.com, an online trip planning application for users and also an ERP platform for tour operators.

Kishore Kadiyala is Founder of 100pins.com, a technology startup that offers a list management application hosted on the cloud.

Sunoj Philip is Founder & CEO of Freethinkers, a creative solutions company, and Founder of The Freethinking School Montessori and After School Club.

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