Meet Crowdisland, Sri Lanka’s first equity crowdfunding platform

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Giving people small amounts of money, to see their ideas come to life would have sounded crazy a few years back. Even entrepreneurs wouldn’t dream of it as they chased after millions from investors. However, today crowdfunding is one of the biggest sources startups or anyone with an idea can use to bring their dream to life. One looks at Kickstarter and seeing the thousands of startups seeking money to build their ideas, is all you need to confirm this.  Of course, crowdfunding is not without its risks. However, despite these risks, crowdfunding has become a popular source of funds.

Today, Sri Lanka has its own crowdfunding platform that is known as Crowdisland . Founded by Jeevan Gnanam – Director of the SA Group and the investment bank York Street Partners, Crowdisland isn’t your typical crowdfunding platform. Crowdisland is Sri Lanka’s first equity crowdfunding platform. Its aim is to connect startups with investors.

Jeevan Gnanam, Director - SA Group at the launch of Crowdisland (Photo credits: Malshan Guanwardane)
Jeevan Gnanam, Director – SA Group at the launch of Crowdisland (Photo credits: Malshan Guanwardane)

Speaking on the venture, Jeevan commented, “Sri Lanka is witnessing a strong start-up culture that is sowing the seeds of innovation-driven growth for the future. Crowdisland aims to work with a community of investors who are willing to fund and support this new dawn of creativity and innovation in Sri Lanka, and bring them together with promising entrepreneurs ideas and concepts. This is a new and exciting investment opportunity not only for high-net-worth investors but also more retail-oriented investors. It also provides an impetus for existing entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and future entrepreneurs to take the plunge.”

On typical crowdfunding platforms, a startup would try raising small amounts of money from many people and in exchange would offer rewards after their funding goal has been reached and their idea brought to life. However, the way Crowdisland works is very different. This is due to regulatory frameworks we have a Sri Lanka and the poor support from existing payment gateways.

Sujendra Mather – Managing Director of York Street Partners said, “We aim to start from a slightly limited platform of equity crowdfunding from mainly high net worth investors, and work towards larger scale project crowdfunding that can reach rural entrepreneurs once the government implements a more supportive framework. We are currently hampered by old regulations that are prohibitive to crowdfunding. For example, according to the Company’s Act, a private company can only have 50 shareholders, which ideally should be increased. Payment gateways have been hesitant to support us due to the unfamiliarity with the concept. We would also like to see the SEC getting involved and supporting the concept.”

The founders believe that with the increasing number of startups, it is now the perfect time to launch Crowdisland. Banks are traditionally not startup and SME-friendly and that makes it tough for promising businesses to get funding. Crowdisland hopes to become an attractive alternative and grow this important sector, nurturing young entrepreneurs. With its founders combined investment and business skills, it just might.

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