If Sri Lanka is to become a global leader in technology and entrepreneurship, it needs to foster innovative teaching and mentoring of the next generation of entrepreneurs. Global Startup Labs is a programme by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that promotes economic development in emerging regions by cultivating this new generation. This is the third year that GSL is running a demanding seven week incubator programme at the University of Moratuwa, where 5 teams of students are building real mobile software start-ups from the ground up.
The success of the program comes from providing students teams with expert local mentorship from successful local entrepreneurs and prominent investors. Each year the teams are paired with two mentors from the industry, who provide support, through partnership and constructive criticism for the duration of the program. This year’s mentors include Lankan Angels Mafaz Ishaq (Director, Calamander Capital), Ruwindhu Peiris (Director, Stax), Sanath Fernando (CEO Ridgecreast), Arj Wignaraj (Stax Colombo office founder), and Lasith Lansakara (Engagement Manager, Stax Labs). The remaining mentors include Jeevan Gnanam (CEO and founder Orion City), Harsha Purasinghe (CEO and founder Microimage), Chandika Jayasundara (CEO and founder Cinergix), Isura Silva (Manager Sarvodaya-Fusion) and Madu Ratnayake (Vice President of Virtusa).
On July 4th, GSL hosted Mentor Day, where the mentors in attendance got a chance to meet each of the teams in a speed-dating style setup. Each mentor got 15 minutes with a team to give feedback and suggestions for improvement on their business proposals before the buzzer sounded indicating a change of seats. Afterwards, mentors and teams were matched based on mutual preferences.
Stax is a successful global strategy consulting firm and has long supported GSL Sri Lanka. Next week, students gain experience pitching their companies to Stax Consultants and potential investors at the second annual Stax Day.
GSL has also partnered with SLASSCOM, which will provide one year membership and mentorship by their member companies to the top 3 GSL 2013 teams.
The teams, now with mentor guidance, have four weeks to finish building and polish their products for release at the end of July.
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