Over the past decade, Sri Lanka has developed a budding startup ecosystem. Initiatives to support startups are a dime a dozen. However, if you were to return in 2010, you’d find none of this. The lone exception was ICTA’s Spiralation, which was launched in June that year. At the time, it was the only startup support initiative in the country. Even when we first met the team behind it 3 years later in 2013, we felt it was, “a program of a rare breed in Sri Lanka” at the time.
The goal of Spiralation is simple. It has primarily been focused on uplifting the national economy and improving living standards. To do so, the initiative by ICTA serves as an accelerator for tech startups. Like other accelerators, it offers them funding, mentors, training programmes, and anything else a startup needs to grow.
Currently, Spiralation is being funded by the Ministry of Industrial Exports and Investment Promotions. Having identified ICTA as a leading stakeholder to implement IT-BPM initiatives, the 2 institutions have formed a partnership. The goal of which is to strengthen the IT-BPM sector and to streamline the Sri Lanka National Exports Strategy (NES).
Today, almost 10 years later, Spiralation has supported 70 local startups in various fields develop into large corporates. Granted, not every startup Spiralation funded succeeded. But look through the list and you’ll find several notable success stories. One being Arimac, which has built offices across the globe and a bold variety of products. Another is Loops Solutions, which itself has grown and expanded beyond Sri Lanka. The list also includes Bhasha, that built the popular Helakuru and PayHere.
Needless to say, Spiralation has maintained a strong track record. Recently, the initiative announced its latest batch. 16 startups were accepted into the programme. All of them were offered access to an all-inclusive set of training programmes and guidance by a set of mentors. Additionally, 12 of these startups also received Rs. 1.5 million of funding.
These startups that were accepted into the programme are:
- Thingerbits – An ed-tech startup aiming to create a DIY culture with easy DIY kits, tutorials, and runs their own makerspace.
- SchoolX – An online learning platform aimed at helping students learn through digital content without relying solely on teachers.
- Bookclub.lk – The company aims to digitize Sri Lankan books and make it more accessible through an e-reader app.
- Univiser – Offering an e-mentoring platform, the company hopes to connect prospective, current students, and alumni of education institutes.
- SmartStudy – With the aim of helping students and job seekers improve their scoring ability on MCQ’s, the company developed a web application towards this.
- Frammix – This startup has built a platform offering VR tours of ancient sites in Sri Lanka.
- Real Pixels – A startup known for creating holographic displays. Their first product is AVINA, which is a holographic display for advertising purposes.
- RN Innovations – A security tech startup, which offers an intrusion detection system that’s being utilized within banks and off-site ATMs.
- Kayal Technologies – This is an early-stage startup working on robotics and computer vision. Currently, it has developed a robot to clean waterways and does so 70% cheaper than existing solutions.
- Idealsix – Another startup in the waste management industry. We’ve previously written about their app UCEMB, which is being used by the Embilipitiya Municipal Council.
- Tracified – The company utilizes IoT and blockchain to enable traceability of products by premium food suppliers and retailers.
- Cookoo Eats – An on-demand food delivery app, similar to UberEats and PickMe Food, operating in the Northern Province.
From food delivery to robotics to ed-tech, there’s an interesting variety of startups in the list. But which of them will grow into established corporates?. It’s a tough question. Granted, not every one of them may succeed. After all, startups are born and die every day.
Nevertheless, after 10 years, Spiralation has some notable success stories. All of which are definitely contributing towards the growth of the national economy as the programme intended. And with that success comes valuable expertise that this latest batch of companies can tap into in order to fuel their growth. If you’re running a startup and curious to learn more, check out the Spiralation website here.