The startups accepted into the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge 2019


If you’re a follower of Sri Lankan tech startups, then you likely know what the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge is. As its name suggests, this is a startup accelerator program run by John Keells. The startups accepted into the program, have the chance of obtaining Rs. 2.5 million and later Rs. 50 million in terms of investment.

But as we learned in January, it’s not so easy to get into the program. From the many startups that applied, only 15 were accepted into the first stage of the program. This first stage is the pre-accelerator stage. Over the course of 3 months, the startups would work towards delivering an MVP and finding clients. But throughout this stage there are a series of checkpoints.

John Keells X
Founders of some of the latest startups accepted into the program introducing themselves at the launch of John Keells X 3.0

The purpose of these checkpoints being to ensure the startups are on the right path and hitting the important metrics. But at the same time, at these checkpoints startups can also be dropped from the program. The ones that make it get the chance to pitch to a panel of judges at the demo day. Here is where they get the chance to pitch for Rs. 2.5 million in investment.

There’s a variety of teams that have the chance to grab that Rs. 2.5 million. There are e-commerce companies like and BringMe. Some more experienced companies like Global Tutor and Blue Lotus 360. And a few startups we’ve seen in competitions like Ananke and Planmash. You can find the full list of startups accepted into the program below.

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The startups accepted into the latest batch of the John Keells X program

Throughout the pre-accelerator stage, the teams would be guided on finding their first set of customers through a series of webinars and meetups. Following the demo day, of these startups will be accepted into the actual accelerator program. During this stage, the focus will be on helping them grow.

At the conclusion of the accelerator stage, the startups that remain get to pitch once again. This time for Rs. 25 million of investment. But that’s in the future. Right now the John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge has officially begun and the teams are in the thick of it. We’ll soon find out, which startups will make it to the demo day.


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