The Venture Engine entrepreneurship development programme drew to a close at The OZO, Colombo recently, marking a successful four-year run. The 11 finalists behind the top-ranked projects made their final presentations to a panel of internationally renowned judges comprising members of the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and Indian Angel Network (IAN). Of the final presentations, the top three business plans belonging to Stripes & Checks, Yamu and Audio Book received this year’s honours.
Speaking on the talent pool the investors assessed, Blue Ocean Ventures Co-Founder Prajeeth Balasubramaniam said, “This year’s talent pool represented a wider array of sectors than we have seen before. We also saw a significantly higher degree of innovative thinking and passion brought to the table. The investors were especially impressed by the level of forward thinking and proactive solutions that were presented. The fact that the projects consistently keep improving every year is an indication that entrepreneurs are developing greater confidence and have truly thought through their business plans. As always, Venture Engine is pleased to lead the creation of this ecosystem in Sri Lanka.”
Venture Engine 2015 saw 150 entries encompassing a wide range of industries such as food technology and processing, Ayurvedic and healthcare, education, design, gaming, chemical and fertilisers, IT and ecommerce, social media, tourism and hospitality, bio tech and logistics. The finale was attended by potential investors from the Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and US business communities.
In what is described as a highly advanced level of competition, this year’s winners include, Stripes & Checks, manufacturers of made to measure shirts, Yamu an online guide to dining and leisure in Sri Lanka and Audio Book a company that provides books in audio format which are also available in native languages. The next step for these businesses as well as the other eight finalists will be dialogues with potential investors and discussions on logistical decisions on the next phase of their growth.
A unique aspect of the programme is the opportunity afforded to every participant regardless of final ranking. Throughout the competition – during pitches, workshops and presentations, the participants work closely with potential investors from LAN who often choose to invest additionally in many businesses other than just the finalists.
Expolanka Group CEO Hanif Yusoof speaking on the company’s decision to be the Platinum sponsor of Venture Engine for the fourth year, explained, “As a company with entrepreneurship engrained its DNA, Expo Lanka is a strong believer in the potential that is brought to light at every single Venture Engine installation.
This association is our way of continuing to support the growth of new businesses and the realisation of dreams, while helping the talented individuals behind them to achieve their potential.”