Last week, we saw the return of Disrupt Asia: the massive conference organized by ICTA to promote entrepreneurship and help accelerate the growth of the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem. Last year, when we left the conference, we wrote three massive articles. And this year it happened again. At Disrupt Asia 2017, we once again found so many awesome sessions that we couldn’t fit them all into a single article without making the story read like watered down alcohol.
With that being said, the series begins with an introduction to all the startups we saw at Disrupt Asia 2017. Why? Because the stars of a startup conference are the startups themselves. This year there were 27 startups that took the decision of purchasing a stall at the conference and pitched themselves to the investors and other attendees.
With all the sessions that were happening in parallel, it was a challenge to speak to all 27 startups. Luckily, we were still able to meet most of them and see what they had to offer. These are the startups we saw at Disrupt Asia 2017.
3D Concept Studio is a startup we’ve met before and are the ones that introduced 3D printing to Sri Lanka. Since their inception, they haven’t stopped experimenting with the possibilities of 3D printing. Today, they’ve expanded into 3D printing products with porcelain, transparent materials, flexible materials, and even jewelry. Yet, while bringing these innovative 3D printing methods to Sri Lanka, their main expertise today lies in their 3D design skills and incubation offerings to help people build products.
LayUp is the Sri Lankan startup that recently was among the winners at SeedStars Global. But in case you’ve never heard of them, LayUp is a learning platform that aims to transform corporate training. Currently, they run training programs for many leading corporates in Sri Lanka such as HNB, Keells, and MAS. But that’s not all. They’ve also obtained clients across the world and have over 21,000 users. Where do they plan to go next? The United States. This is where they hope to expand into in the near future.
BlueLotus 360 is a three-year-old startup offering its own Cloud Based ERP system. Their main selling point is the variety of modules that businesses could utilize. These modules range from HR to accounting to project management. This variety has allowed them to secure 78 clients to date with 750 daily users and 35,000 transactions going through the platform every day. Today, their clients include names like Perera & Sons, Senok, Weerodara, Sun Hotels, and more.
Tracified is another startup we met at the launch of StartupX Foundry. This was a startup born while selling Norwegian fish in China. Its goal is to help you understand the journey of how a product was created and then sold to you. Since we last met them, they’ve formed a series of partnerships.
One partnership is with a German company to utilize their temperatures sensors to monitor the freshness of food. Another partnership is with an Australian milk exporter, which is hoping to utilize the Tracified platform. Additionally, Tracified is also utilizing Blockchain in the future as it solves many problems they currently face as it can’t be modified.
As the name suggests, this is a startup that helps you build bots. Not robots but rather chatbots and is among the few platforms that allow you to build one without knowing how to code. All you have to do is simply sign in using either your Facebook or Google account and then select a template. Once you’ve selected the template then all you have to do is define the flowchart for the chatbot to handle conversations by adding different components.
So how much does BotFactory cost? The first 1000 interactions for chatbots built with the BotFactory platform are free. Afterward, you’ll be charged $2 per month. At the moment, BotFactory is a young startup that’s only ten months old. Nonetheless, they’ve been able to obtain clients such as John Keells and Onsbay.
This is a startup that aims to revolutionize doctor appointments. To do so, it leverages the power of video conferencing to connect you with a doctor. In other words, with oDoc, you can get an appointment with a doctor without physically going to a hospital or clinic. At the end of these digital appointments, you can even get a digital note from your doctor with a certified seal and their SLMC number.
However, there are questions as to its effectiveness as video conferencing prevents doctors from conducting examinations with the patients. Nonetheless, oDoc currently has 15 doctors on its platforms. All of whom are SLMC certified. The first consultation is free but afterward, you will be charged Rs. 1500 for each consultation. The breakdown of the fees is Rs. 1000 for the doctors with Rs. 500 going to oDoc and taxes. oDoc was officially launched at Disrupt Asia 2017 and is currently focusing on the Sri Lankan market. But they hope to expand into South East Asia in the near future.
This is a startup that operates in two very complex domains: water and energy. So what exactly does datacon bring to the tables of these two complex domains? It offers end to end IoT solutions that utilize a variety of sensors and hardware to collect data. Once collected it’s presented in a personalized web interface that ensures that the necessary data would be available at your fingertips. At Disrupt Asia 2017, we saw them showcase one of their Nexus100 IoT gateway that supports a variety of industrial sensors and communication methods to collect data in the domains it operates in.
BeltRoad EPC is a construction focused finance platform trying to solve a peculiar problem. This problem is a major one faced by SME suppliers that support contractors of the Belt and Road initiative. In case you’re lost, the Belt and Road initiative is a $900bn development strategy proposed the Chinese President Xi Jinping. In Sri Lanka, a major ongoing project that’s part of this initiative is the Colombo Port City.
So what is this problem the SME suppliers face? Getting paid by the contractors. Once the suppliers have delivered the goods, it takes almost 40 days for these contractors to pay the suppliers. To solve this issue, BeltRoad EPC would offer the money the suppliers need upfront to cover their costs, in exchange for a 2% fee once the contractors pay. The startup was launched last year and operated offline, which helped them overcome many legal challenges. But now they’re moving their operations including payments into the digital world with their web application to simplify the process.
ConscientAI, as the name suggests, is an AI and Machine Learning company. It looks at applying Deep Learning techniques, which is a subset of Machine Learning to solve real-world problems. In a nutshell, this is a company that believes in the power of AI to solve problems and thinks that we aren’t utilizing it enough. And at Disrupt Asia 2017, we saw a demo of what they’re currently working on.
They showed us an intelligent fashion assistant. This assistant would take pictures of you in your clothes to identify the color of your clothes and the type of clothes you were wearing to create an icon and description of them. Eventually, this would transform into a mobile app, which will help digitize your wardrobe. But ConscientAI has a grander vision of expanding the applications of this AI system to other areas such as food as vehicles. In addition, to building AI systems, the startup also offers its AI expertise to companies in the form of its consulting services. In time, ConscientAI hopes to become the research company that shows everyone the power of AI.
Applying for loans can be a tedious process when filling out the countless forms and making those endless trips to the banks. ILoan wants to make this process a lot simpler. This is a platform that allows you to fill out the necessary forms online. Afterward, ILoan would send your information to the bank for processing, thus drastically reducing the number of times you need to visit the bank.
In exchange, ILoan would take a 1% commission from the banks. However, as helpful as the service might be, they still need approval from each bank to offer the service. As such, they’re currently focusing on the Sri Lankan market until they can solve every legal challenge they face to offer this service smoothly without any issue.
Evensel is a startup we met last year at Disrupt Asia 2016. Last year, they were showcasing YouSnap, which was an app to remotely control phones. At Disrupt Asia 2017, they brought a mobile device management and application management platform. This platform would allow companies to strictly control devices they give to their employees.
That means if you get a phone from your employer, this platform allows your employer to remotely control which apps you can install, how much data you can use, stop you from taking pictures, and more. Currently, this platform is in use by corporates like Orient Insurance. At the moment, Evensel is only offering their services to local corporates. But they are planning on expanding into Australia in the near future.
This is the latest product from an active startup in the local ecosystem: Mogo Solutions. So what exactly is Mogo Super? Think of it as an online grocery that delivers items as you need it directly to your house. You can place an order to have items delivered to your house either through their website or via their Android app. At the moment, Mogo Super only operates in Colombo but they hope to take it island wide soon.
PAYable is a year-old startup that offers a mobile app with a Bluetooth card reader to help SME’s support cashless payments. All a business owner needs to do is enter the amount, swipe the customer’s debit/credit card, get their signature, and receive the money in 1-2 days. Since their launch, PAYable now has 1500 merchants using their system and has carried out 30,000 transactions worth over Rs.80 million. Needless to say, PAYable is on the road to empowering SME’s across the country.
We first met EarnShark at the launch of StartupX Foundry. This is a startup working to make the process of building apps easier. EarnShark offers a SaaS (Software as a Service) licensing platform that helps to simplify the process of creating and implementing subscriptions for software services. Since we last saw them, they’ve expanded their Norwegian clientele. In the near future, they’re hoping to get a few local clients. And to do so they plan on integrating local payment gateways and introducing a cheaper pricing model for Sri Lankan companies.
WST Touch is a startup that offers a system that utilizes NFC cards to track the attendance of students at classes. But it goes beyond that by sending notifications to parents when a student attends a class or if a class is canceled. The system is sold on a subscription basis as a value added service from telecommunications operators such as Mobitel and Dialog with parents paying Rs. 99. On the other hand, teachers would pay a monthly subscription of Rs. 499 after paying a one-time fee of Rs. 30,000. WST Touch is a three-year-old and is now looking for additional funding to help market the product and scale it.
This was one of the youngest startups we saw at Disrupt Asia 2017. MillionSpaces is a booking platform that’s yet to be launched. The idea behind MillionSpaces isn’t to book hotel rooms for your vacation. Rather it’s to book venues for events. Thus, you can use the Million Spaces platform to book hotels, halls, and other locations for an event you’re organizing. So much does it cost? To list a location, it would cost a Rs.1000 and with each booking MillionSpaces would take a 20% commission.
GetFitBy, as its name suggests, is a startup whose services are aimed at gym goers and health enthusiasts. Their platform would allow you to know exactly what classes or sessions are offered at various gyms. These sessions range from cardio to yoga to self-defense, and with GetFitBy you would know exactly what your gym offers. But that’s only one side of the coin. GetFitBy also offers gym scheduling, a CRM, and a booking system. Essentially, GetFitBy aims to be the booking platform for the wellness industry. Since their launch, they have formed partnerships with 20 gyms and currently process 2500 transactions every month.
This startup is one that you could call a subsidiary of PayMedia, which is another startup that we met at Disrupt Asia last year. So what exactly is DirectPay? This is a startup that offers a cashless payment platform that utilizes QR codes. How does it work? By replacing bills with QR codes that you can scan and then enter the amount into the system. Once you enter the amount, the money would be deducted from your bank account. And like other similar systems, DirectPay would take a small commission off each transaction that goes through its platform.
This is a startup that aims to support sportsmen, especially cricketers with their training. At Disrupt Asia 2017, HybriTeq introduced us to their flagship product: Stroke Master. This is a sensor that can be attached to a cricket bat to capture and analyze the data of a cricketer as they play. Additionally, it also allows cricketers to compare their performance against those of star players as well. HybriTeq’s aim with Stroke Master is to provide a substitute coach for young cricketers.
Ezbooking is a year-old startup from Jaffna. It hopes to make the lives of budget hotel owners in Sri Lanka a lot easier. To do so, it is offering these budget hotel owners a website with an integrated booking platform. This platform would bring various features such as managing online bookings, creating restaurant menus, generate invoices, manage rooms, etc. You can find more information about EzBooking and its platform here.
Olivescript is a startup that brought an all-in-one comprehensive health assistant to Disrupt Asia 2017. Their device known as Clarida is a scale that scans your body and informs you of any ailments you might potentially be facing. To do so, it uses PPG technology to track and predict symptoms. Additionally, it also incorporates gamification features to motivate you and your friends to stay healthy. Currently, Clarida costs $180 and once perfected could help you save a lot of money by reducing the number of medical examinations you’d need.
Igniter Space is another startup we met at the launch of StartupX Foundry and have known since they went by the name of KidsIgnite. This is a startup that offers maker spaces as it hopes to inspire children to become innovators. To do so, Igniter Space conducts classes that adopt a practical approach that teaches children how to build products with things lying around their houses. They also run a service called IgniterBee, which sends monthly care packages with materials and instructions that help children build products. Currently, they have three maker spaces located in Narhenpitiya, Gampaha, and Negombo with 30 volunteers helping conduct classes for its 800 students.
It might not be accurate to call Synergen a startup as it’s headquartered in Dallas, Texas with its R&D Center being located in Sri Lanka. Nonetheless, we saw them at Disrupt Asia 2017, they showcased two of their newest products. The first product was a battery powered ECG monitor that would capture the ECG data of a person and transmit it wirelessly to other devices such as that of doctors for analysis. The second product we saw from them was a wristband that was not only a fitness tracker but could also be used to control your devices with gestures.
MyGlukose is a startup that wants to help prevent diabetes and make the lives of those suffering from it easier. MyGlukose allows you to manually record the information about your meals through its app. Afterward, you can also set goals towards a healthier lifestyle and also share this data with its experts. At the moment, a key limitation of MyGlukose is that you have to manually enter the data about your meals. But in the future, the startup is working towards automating this process.
This is another startup that we found at Disrupt Asia 2017 venturing into the challenging world of healthcare. At Disrupt Asia, we saw Pulz Solutions showcasing a device that aimed to make the lives of doctors easier. Their device would record the ECG of patients and once obtained could be viewed via a web interface. Currently, the device has been approved for use and they’re targeting it at hospitals.
This is another startup we saw at Disrupt Asia 2017, with a name that gives a clear understanding as to what they offer. Park and Pay is an app that allows you to find and book parking slots. While a handy concept, we’ve seen this idea thrown around at hackathons where the common question thrown at teams that pitch such an idea is: how could a person book a parking space and then prevent other cars from taking that space?
Once again, we found a startup that we had met before. Maturify is a startup that hopes to reduce the impact a business faces when it loses an employee. It does this through its platform that creates knowledge models. These knowledge models are essentially collections of knowledge within a department. Once the models have been built, Maturify facilitates and visualizes the transfer of this knowledge to newer employees.
And there you have it, these were the 27 startups that we saw at Disrupt Asia 2017. Despite the many sessions happening in parallel, we were glad to have met these startups. However, this is merely scratching the surface of Disrupt Asia 2017. Stay tuned for Part Two of our series for the story behind Cheryl Edison and #LetMeGetPaid.
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"We are pleased to announce that the 18th International Conference on Advances in ICT for Emerging Regions (ICTer2018) will be held from 27th to 28th September 2018 in Colombo, Sri
“We are pleased to announce that the 18th International Conference on Advances in ICT for Emerging Regions (ICTer2018) will be held from 27th to 28th September 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The conference will include several pre and post-conference workshops on the 26th and 29th of September, conducted by top experts in the cutting edge areas of Computer Science and Information and Communication Technology.”
26 (Wednesday) 9:00 am - 29 (Saturday) 5:00 pm
University of Colombo School of Computing
35, Reid Avenue, 00700 Colombo, Sri Lanka
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