Are you ready to win the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge?

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Startup accelerators can work wonders if you’re a fresh entrepreneur looking for a way to quickly grow your startup. Since its inception in 2016, the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge has been one such popular accelerator.

What is the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge?

Well, as we said above the John Keells (JKX) Open Innovation Challenge is a program where teams of entrepreneurs and innovators will compete for the chance to gain entrance into the company’s startup accelerator.

At the demos stage, startups will have the chance to pitch their product or service for LKR. 2.5 Million in seed investment along with a host of other benefits. At the accelerator stage, those startups that make it will be eligible for a further LKR 25 Million in terms of investment. Of course, gaining entrance to this program is not going to be easy.

Discussing the finer details

At the second meetup of the JKX Open Innovation Challenge 3.0, Krishan Balendra – Deputy Chairman at JKH spoke about 6 startups that had been selected for the previous year’s program. They were given all the required infrastructure to grow and Krishan noted that within the course of a year they had grown considerably well.

Are you ready to win the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge? 1
Krishan Balendra – Chairman of John Keells

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva – Chair of ICTA who was also a guest speaker at the meetup explained about startups and his working with ICTA. He realized that in the discussion over the Nation Export Strategy, the IT industry had come up with goals for the next 5 years.

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Prof. Rohan Samarajiva – Chairman of ICTA

These goals included USD 5 billion in exports and the creation of 1,000 startups, all by the year 2022. Prof. Rohan emphasized that he’s confident that we can meet these goals because they are a collectively agreed upon set of targets and because of companies such as JKH who have taken steps to lend a shoulder for startups to grow.

How will JKX Open Innovation Challenge 3.0 proceed?

As explained by Wishanth Wijesinha – Assistant Vice President and Head of John Keells X, the JKX Open Innovation Challenge 3.0 kicked off on the 3rd of December 2018 with a call for applications. The deadline to submit applications will go on till the 6th of February 2019.

Upto 30 teams that are selected will gain access to the pre-accelerator. The pre accelerator will be held for a duration of 3 months beginning from March 2019. The teams will have to focus on delivering an MVP or minimum viable product. To make sure that the teams are on the most suited path, a number of MVP checkpoints will be scheduled as well.

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Wishanth also explained that there would be a number of meetups that would be carried out by senior executives of JKH. There would also be a number of workshops covering topics such as corporate finance, legal essentials and so on. Teams would also be assigned a mentor from JKH to help them out if assistance is required.

From there, these 30 teams will make their pitch at Demo day. Here, they would pitch their MVP to a panel of judges. Upto 7 teams will be selected to receive funding worth LKR 2.5 million for 6.25% of the company’s shares. The 7 teams will also be exposed to a 3 day intensive workshop to help them out with growth hacking and other aspects of maintaining and running their startups.

Teams would also get access to JKH Networks. If you’re in line with JKH and their business verticals, you can get access to customers, channels, systems and data where applicable. Teams also get access to corporate services, and office space in Colombo as well.

The Grand Finale and beyond

The grand finale of the JKX Open Innovation Challenge 3.0 is of course where it all goes down. Here, the 7 teams will make their final pitch, pulling out all the stops. If they play their cards right, they will walk away with the ultimate prize: LKR. 50 Million in follow on investments.

While preference is given to companies whose products align with JKH’s business verticals, that doesn’t necessarily mean that startups targeting different industries won’t have a place either. If you haven’t already applied for the JKX Open Innovation Challenge 3.0 and you’re looking to, then you better get a move on.

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The panelists at the John Keells X 3.0 Meetup

Following Wishanth’s introduction to the program, we saw a panel discussion take place. The panelists were Ajit Gunewardene – Founder of Bluestone Capital, Ramesh Shanmuganathan – Group CIO of John Keells alongside Wishanth.

The panelists spoke extensively about the program and shared their insights about entrepreneurship. One of the key lessons we took from this was from Ajit Gunewardene. He shared, “Don’t rely on the government for anything. Surely you know that. Your long-term plans and strategies must be designed to operate despite government.”

Following this panel discussion was an interactive networking session at the meetup. You can click here to apply for the challenge in a few easy steps. In addition, you can also check out the JKX website and Facebook page for more details as well.

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