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We have been listening to the word ‘Startup’ more often these days, haven’t we? Well, what’s a start-up? A start-up is nothing more than starting a company on your own, being an entrepreneur and taking risks. Some people might get the idea “two foreign guys in a garage”, just like the most success stories out there. But then we also have our local experts, who have excelled starting their own business.

_MG_0753“Getting a startup going on is very risky. At times you get emotionally involved” said Manoj Ranaweera, who has founded many startups, such as Techcelerate in UK and was down in Sri Lanka when this forum took place. He said, having an MBA gives you overconfidence and that is what happened to him when he was struggling to get up on his own.

“It is a myth that all the businesses from Silicon Valley will take over the world. In UK, it is harder than San Francisco, and in Sri Lanka, it is much harder to start a start-up and keep going.” – Manoj

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And then we also had Shakya Lahiru Pathmalal, who is the Founder and CEO of takas.lk. To inspire the gathering, Shakya shared some tips he followed. “If you can’t connect with people, if you don’t know what your investors are interested in, you are doing it wrong. You need to really brush up on the story before pitching.” He also suggested that you pitch to your family before you pitch to your investors, so that you can think through your business model according to their feedback.

“Believe in what you do while being honest. Investment doesn’t come only in the form of Rupees, but you make lifelong friends as well” Lahiru concluded with that note.

Jeevan Gnanam was next up to present his speech. Being an Angel Investor, Director at SAKS and SLASSCOM which is the leading IT body in the country and CEO of Orion City as well as St. Antony’s Industries Group. Orion City was started because there was a lack of proper IT ecosystem in Sri Lanka. ‘Lankan Angel Network funds and inspires start-ups. Having created that, it is great to see that Startup ecosystem is growing in SL’, said Jeevan.

“Don’t be afraid to fail, but get used to it and get up, quick.” a tip by Jeevan.

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Once the main speakers were done with their presentations, we moved on to a Panel Discussion where the speakers touched on some delicate matters which were raised by the audience. “I suppose I have a very expensive taste. Essentially this gave me two options, a calculated decision was taken into consideration which led me to create takas.lk” – Lahiru.

“Whether we like it or not, our parents make decisions for us for our betterment. We need more people here in Sri Lanka to take chances at a very young age. This is the lesson I have learnt from Manchester, UK” – Manoj.

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“Do more, with less. We have at least 5-6 new competition every year. Ecosystem is lacking mentorship, people giving time rather than money is more valuable these days” – Jeevan.

The first panel discussion was followed by another panel discussion consisting of Ruwindhu Peiris, Anushka Wijesinha, Fayaz Hudah and Deshal De Mel. Manoj moderated the session. Issues were raised and addressed. For instance, PayPal issue. “I agree, there are things to be done from government’s end as well, such as PayPal. It is important that Government make these things feasible. Government has the role of creating the ecosystem” – Deshal.

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Time was running out and a cocktail session was awaiting all of us. The crowd dispersed after having some refreshments while networking and enhancing their understanding about proper mechanism of starting a start-up.

Catch-up with archived live blog post here. Also check the photo album which can be found here.

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Initiated in early April of 2013, MIT Global Start-up Lab started in Sri Lanka in order to empower young entrepreneurs to overcome their fears and to get them started with their ideas and their start-ups. It was observed that, our young entrepreneurs have brilliant ideas, but lack proper guidance and mindset to carry them out. That is where GSL comes in to support them, to encourage them and to assist them.

On January 16th 2014,  ’Industry Day 2′ took place at Orion City Cafeteria, where the participants had to attend as a team or as individual components and pitch their ideas in front of the judge panel. Of course there was a ‘Mentor Involvement’ prior to this, few days back on 10th of January, guiding them on how to make ‘THE’ impression and how to present their ideas.

After much consideration, idea ‘Car Talk’ emerged as the ultimate winner

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People were divided into groups and then they got 2 minutes each to pitch their ideas.

Some of the ideas that stood out from the rest were:

A USB device capable of finding boarding place nearby for University students, an App which will find the needful people or find people having same interests as you, a review check-in location based app, an app which allows you to deposit small amount of money via your mobile app. A wearable locket which can track people and another app which will talk on behalf of your car itself to find the perfect diagnostic for it.

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After scoring them according to the judging criteria,  the ideas pitched were shortlisted for Round 2, where they had to convince the judges furthermore in order to get into the next round. This went on for a while and at last, one team was selected as the winner. After much consideration, idea ‘Car Talk’ emerged as the ultimate winner. Reason for them to bag this was that they had it all planned out and they were ahead of all others there.

In the end, a round table discussion took place where the mentors ‘interacted’ with the participants and also cleared some doubts they had in them.

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We hope this initiative brings out and shines the unpolished entrepreneurs, to make the country a better place by bringing foreign revenue in and develop themselves as well and the others.

You can find our previous articles regarding MIT Global Startup Labs here.

Industry Day One Live Blog

Industry Day Two  Live Blog

Photo Album – Day One

Photo Album – Day Two