Starting a startup in Sri Lanka comes with a load of problems and challenges. Funding, structuring, strategizing and reading the marketplace… the list goes on and on.
Finding the right solution to all these problems and tackling these challenges is key to any startup success.
Luckily, now you don’t have to figure out everything alone as there are so many programmes that are waiting to lend a helping hand to Startups in Sri Lanka. To help ambitious founders and co-founders and entrepreneurs, here I’ve put together 27 programmes and platforms that support and guide Sri Lankan startups. Whether you are looking for funding, mentoring, incubation or simply knowledge, you’ll find something useful here that can aid you. (I have listed them in no particular order. Click on each title to visit their respective websites.)
Let’s dive in.
Started as a project by Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network, Venture Engine is a programme that provides Sri Lankan startups with funding, mentoring and workshop opportunities. Anyone who‘s with a golden business idea or with an existing business can apply for this. The best ideas to fund will be selected through several rounds of selections which you can learn more about from their website.
Here’s another tech startup seed funding programme in Sri Lanka for ambitious techies. Plus, the programme features, training and market access; hands down a lovely bonus. This is an initiative of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, known to be the apex ICT institution of the Government of Sri Lanka that aims to support new technology ventures in the island.
Started in 2016, Crowdisland is a pillar in Sri Lankan startup funding scene. The platform allows tech startups in Sri Lanka to validate their ideas and raise funds for their ventures across the globe.
“We are drawn to the excitement and chaos that surrounds early-stage startups.” Crowdisland’s words. Sounds like you? Check out their website.
Blue Ocean Ventures
Blue Ocean Ventures or BOV offer one of the most sought-after startup funders in Sri Lanka. The venture capital firm based in Sri Lanka and Singapore mainly focuses on funding Sri Lankan startups to help them capture regional and global opportunities.
Lankan Angel Network
Lankan Angel Network or LAN is a programme that funds and provides resources, knowledge, and incubations for Sri Lanka startups; ones in the high growth early stage. They comprised of individual investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors. Basically, this is a community of startup investors, incubators and mentors in Sri Lanka.
Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL) is a national organization that supports young entrepreneurs to thrive in many ways. This includes training, mentoring, funding and incubation opportunities. The organization is a part of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and also organizes several events and programmes each year to guide and encourage ambitious entrepreneurs. If you are a startup founder, don’t miss this opportunity of promising support.
John Keells X
If you are looking for investors or accelerators, John Keels X is one of the best startup incubation programmes in Sri Lanka. The programme is conceptualized by John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), obviously. This is not a programme just for tech startups in Sri Lanka but for startups in sectors like Leisure & Tourism, Transport, Consumer Food, Beverages, Retail, Property, Banking, Insurance, and plantations too. Every year, they organize Open Innovation Challenge which ambitious innovators who like to be recognized must take a look at. If you’re planning to apply for the 2018 intake, check out here.
Offering you investing, funding and startup consulting advisory; Idea2fund has it all. The programme is governed under MTI Corporate Finance. If you have an idea, here’s your opportunity to forge your dream startup out of it. You can learn more about how you can pitch your idea to them from their website. The best part is, they welcome ideas from several domains including, fashion, engineering, agriculture, ICT, logistics and more.
Slingshot focuses on providing Sri Lankan startups with incubator/seed accelerator opportunities. Developed by Hemas Group, the programme supports startups in Sri Lanka in offering diverse advisory, guidance, and support.
StatrupX foundry is empowering innovators and entrepreneurs with investing, mentoring, providing resources for market researching and product development.
They exist to support Sri Lanka startups to reach the global market, so why not reach out to them and tell your story today.
Are you into apparel, textile, and accessories industries? Here’s a programme that’s just perfect for you. Disrupt Unlimited is a programme that provides startups with much broader services in terms of seed funding, industry-specific mentors, practical workshops, networking opportunities, workspace, and legal & administrative services. The programme is the brainchild of Brandix and aims to inspire, mentor and fund startups focus on technological innovations and solutions that can change the apparel, textile, and accessories industries at every stage of the supply chain for good.
Here’s another startup funding company in Sri Lanka with a long history. Started in 1992 as a venture capital company in Sri Lanka, Lanka Ventures has funded many ambitious companies to thrive over the years. They mean business if you do too! So pitch your idea today!
East West Capital
Are you in hospitality, real estate, construction or broadcasting infrastructure? Then, connect with East West Properties PLC for investments. Started in 1981, the company has the money and obviously the experience. They are partners worth having in your team.
The Emerald Fund
These guys are seasoned investors with nearly a decade of experience under their belt. They fund a range of sectors like healthcare, financial services, value-added exports, leisure/entertainment, IT, logistics/port related services and more. If you are a small business or a medium size business owner who is looking forward to expanding, pitch them your idea.
Browns Capital PLC
If anyone is into tea and rubber plantations, property development, leisure, and hydropower generation, Browns Capitals may invest in your idea or your business.
Venture Frontier Lanka
Venture Frontier Lanka is a platform that is aiming to identify and nurture the most promising early-stage entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka and provide practical training and mentorship and even seed investment to secure proof of concept. They are utilizing a Public-Private-Donor (PPD) partnership structure by bringing in different players to the Startup Ecosystem.
They also conduct various programs for startups and entrepreneurs. Check them out here.
Sri Lanka Technology Incubator – ConceptNursery
Techies, this is another company interested in tech innovations just as you are. ConceptNursery provides funding and incubations for startups and businesses since 2000.
YouthHack Sri Lanka’s Startup Challenge
YouthHack is a Startup Challenge which has been taking place since 2016.
They also help university students or school leavers who are at the very very early stage of their start-up idea, helping them to figure out the business and entrepreneur part of your idea. They also hold startup challenges, code weekends and skill boot camps. Check them out here.
At Tech startup weekends you can spend a whole weekend with best mentors, investors, co-founders, and sponsors in the country and connect and learn. You can find their event schedules from their website. This programme initially began about 10 years ago in Boulder, Colorado. Sri Lankan has seen so many Startup Weekends happening in Colombo, Hikka, Negombo, Kandy, and Jaffna. Get updates on the next Startup Weekend right now.
Seedstars World competition
This is one of the world’s biggest startup competitions in emerging markets to win up to USD 1M. This Switzerland based competition takes place every year in over 60 countries. Luckily, Sri Lanka has made it to the list. Winners of the local competitions will enter the world competition.
Angel Investment Network
This is a platform for businesses and startups in Sri Lanka to raise funds for their business ideas or for their next step in growth.
Managed by Wavemaker Partners, Ardent Ventures is a company interested in funding e-commerce businesses, both B2B and B2C in south Asia.
SLASSCOM focuses mainly on the growth of the Sri Lankan IT and BPM industry and organizes several events, workshops, summits to help Sri Lankan startups with knowledge and guidance. This year they even organize their very first SLASSCOM Innovation Awards programme.
Disrupt Asia is the number one Premier Startup Conference and Exhibition in Sri Lanka that is held every year in Colombo. The conference is attended by top speakers, mentors, and investors and is comprised of workshops, conferences; startup showcase and even a startup battle. For knowledge keen Sri Lanka startup founders, investors and anyone for that matter, this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss. Click here to know about the next Disrupt Asia.
If you’re into tech and IT, you don’t need an introduction to ReadMe. They bring you the latest news, insight and what’s happening in Sri Lankan tech scope. They also conduct great interviews with Sri Lankan tech entrepreneurs and startups for your inspiration. If you want to stay updated about Sri Lankan tech scene, you don’t want to miss out ReadMe.
This e-magazine shares inspirational Sri Lankan business success stories and articles on a lot of other helpful stuff for Sri Lankan startups.
iStartup.lk has many resources startups can use to learn and grow. Their startup event calendar is something you should keep an eye on to learn about startup happenings in Sri Lanka.
Well, that’ us. Jump.lk is on a mission to inspire and motivate you to start your own business. We share how-to guides, tips and practical guides on starting your own business in Sri Lanka. We also interview unconventional Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and share their tips and lessons so you can do the same. Check our startup related posts here.
I know that it’s a long list and it might overwhelm you with options. Yet if you are really (I mean reaaaally) pumped to make your startup idea a reality, or to take your business to the next level, make sure this won’t just be a resource list that you save in your bookmarks but something you use to seek out opportunities to build your dream.
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Now go and start your startup!
If you want to start an online business in Sri Lanka, we have a practical workshop for you. It’s called E-Commerce Essentials. To learn more and join the next workshop, click here.