Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network collaborate for the third successive year to host Venture Engine 2014, a project aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. Over its brief two year duration, the project has served as a springboard for 12 businesses, garnering Rs. 200 million in investment collectively. In addition to opening the door to financial backing, Venture Engine provides startups with access to a breadth of expertise in the form of workshops and mentoring sessions via Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and the Indian Angel Network (IAN).
Endorsing the event for the third consecutive year are platinum sponsors Expolanka and Orion City and gold sponsor Dialog Axiata, organisations consistently at the forefront of the Sri Lankan business arena. Venture Engine is run, mentored and filtered by Lankan Angel Network, Sri Lanka’s first alliance of angel investors.
The competition is open to owners of startup businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. An open call for business plans was officially launched on the 29th of April and the close of submissions is scheduled for May 26th, after which a rigorous selection process will ensue. A panel of potential local and overseas investors will review business plans of applicants, selecting a minimum of 20 applications to move on to the second pitch round, and provide valuable critique and insight during this segment of the process.
The top applicants benefit from valuable opportunities to enrich their business plans through a series of workshops and one to one mentoring sessions with successful local and international investors. These entrepreneurs will make a final pitch to a panel of local and international investors with the most exceptional business plans announced at a finale.
“A salient feature of Venture Engine is that the entrepreneur is granted the opportunity to pitch directly to the investors. The selected candidates are mentored by LAN and IAN, and there is no ceiling on funds made available through the angel group. Thus any fundable startup in the top ten has a good opportunity to gain the required investment to set up and expand their company,” explained Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Managing Director, Blue Ocean Ventures.
“We were charting new territory in 2012 when we launched the first Venture Engine programme. With foreign investors eager to capitalise on post war growth and budding entrepreneurs looking to spread their wings, the need for an effective startup ecosystem was identified. Over the last two years we have witnessed an impressive display of talent and drive, reinforcing our decision to launch Venture Engine in Sri Lanka.
“The success of startups from the last two events has seen our investor base expanding. Sustainability is key and Venture Engine’s role effectively extends beyond the immediate capital infusion. Our team of mentors continue to provide insight and guidance after the new ventures are underway,” added Balasubramaniam.
“Venture Engine is a unique initiative. It has inspired entrepreneurship and also driven angel investing in Sri Lanka. Year on year, it has brought critical money and mentoring to young Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. IAN is proud to have helped found Lankan Angel Network, partnered VE and brought in investors from around the world to the island nation,” said Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network.
“From simple beginnings as a small fruit and vegetable exporter in Dam Street, Expolanka has risen to a diversified conglomerate ranked amongst the top ten business entities in Sri Lanka with a global footprint across 18 countries. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone upon which our success is built and we understand the challenges of venturing out on new territory. We see immense value in the exposure and guidance VE provides its participants and its cascading effect on the economy,” stated Hanif Yusoof, Group CEO, Expolanka.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are such fundamental principles of the IT industry that the terms have almost become synonymous. The most significant technological advancements have been brought about by entrepreneurs with marketable ideas and unwavering drive. Without platforms such as VE, we run the costly risk of these ideas never reaching realization. Orion City, once a startup itself, understands this need and is committed to developing the Sri Lankan IT sector. Furthering this goal, we are excited to announce the launch of Orion Nest, a dedicated facility for start-ups,” emphasised Jeevan Gnanam, CEO/Director of Orion City.
“The Venture Engine amply demonstrates the value creation potential of a synergistic platform which brings together Innovation, Risk Capital and Domain Expertise. World over, Venture capital has proven to be an essential ingredient in driving innovation and national competitiveness. Dialog is privileged to be a partner in the Venture Engine competition for the third successive year and it is particularly rewarding to note that within a short space of two years, the Venture Engine programme has succeeded in seeding several business ventures which are globally competitive,” said Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC.
Venture Engine has made substantial headway not just in facilitating startups, but in creating general interest in entrepreneurial ventures amongst investors and potential candidates.
Information on the programme, previous years’ events, and past participants are available on the project website www.ventureengine.lk. Application process information and resources are also available on the website with entries accepted on email@example.com. Further assistance will be provided on contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.