Students building startups while studying: GSEA 2018


Running a small business is no easy task. There’s always 101 things to do at any given time. But despite the challenges, there are students that run businesses in parallel to their studies. At the GSEA 2018 National Finals, organized by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization we saw a few such students.

Elegant Sarees

Elegant Sarees being pitched at GSEA 2018
Elegant Sarees

The first student startup we saw at GSEA 2018 was Elegant Sarees. As the name suggests, this is an online fashion store that specializes in sarees. Since launching in 2014, Elegant Sarees has made over $1,000 in sales despite primarily being promoted through word of mouth. Once the pitch ended, the judges had questions about the supply chain and why prices were so low.


This is a travel company that aimed at travelers seeking an adrenaline rush. Whether it’s surfing, diving, or white water rafting, AdrenalineLK is a travel agency that specializes in extreme sports. Founded by Madhwa Dias from IIT, this startup found its first customer in March 2017. A few months later, it’s first foreign customer.

AdrenalineLK being pitched at GSEA 2018

Today, AdrenalineLK has served over 160 customers and works with 5 partners. It’s these partners that AdernalineLK connects its customers with to create its experiences. Speaking at the GSEA 2018 Finals, Madhwa shared that they plan on releasing an app towards the end of the year.

The judges asked about their insurance plans and margins. Madhwa shared that the partners have insurance plans and margins were set with profits shared between themselves and partners.

Buost Asia

BuostAsia being pitched at GSEA 2018

This is a digital marketing agency that like many others aims to better connect companies with their customers. During their pitch at the GSEA 2018 Finals, they listed Chokolaate, Kelly Felder, and a few others amongst their clients. We also saw that they offered a wide variety of services, which includes social media management, web development, amongst many others.

Pol Sambol

This is a startup that aims to deliver homemade food to your office. Pol Sambol has a network of home cooks that prepare rice packets, which they then deliver to the working people of Colombo. But initially, they didn’t start off with the same name. This was because the food industry is a volatile one.

As such, they initially launched their MVP with a different brand called, Kaema Lashthi. This was marketed through word of mouth, flyers, and social media. Initially, the team went around knocking on doors in Kollupitiya and signing up home cooks. Three months later, the MVP was a success having made 7000 deliveries in the span of 03 months.

Pol Sambol being pitched at GSEA 2018
Pol Sambol

With this success, they’re now transforming Kaema Lasthi into Pol Sambol. As such, they’re now developing a website and mobile app for it.  Additionally, they’ve also learned from their MVP that their delivery point is their single point of failure. That’s why they’re also working on streamlining their delivering service as well.

Bear Appeal

Once upon a time, Pavithra Perera and Thamara Kandabada were looking for high-quality T-shirts. So they released a survey and 70% of people that answered it shared they also had the same problem. Thus, Bear Appeal was born focusing on three core values. These values are high quality, top notch customer service, and a great experience.

Bear Appeal started off by offering three T-shirts and a promise that you’d get it within three days. Once sold, they also offered free returns and exchanges. Additionally, they also keep in touch with their regular customers to get constant feedback. In fact, they even send a handwritten note with every first order and sometimes even birthday cards. They’ve kept their promise and the customers love the service.

Bear Appeal being pitched GSEA 2018
Bear Appeal

Since then they expanded to offer socks and boxers. They also offer a larger variety of shirts from long-sleeves to polo shirts. Currently, Bear Appeal has been in operation for 9 months. In that time, they’ve made Rs. 2.1 million in sales with the average order worth Rs. 2,500. Pavithra also shared at GSEA 2018 that 4 out of 10 customers return to buy more shirts.


Banu Athuraliya originally wanted to be a cricketer as a kid. However, he gave up on this dream because his parents wanted him to focus on his studies. Afterward, he spent his time eating, playing games, and sleeping his days away. It was unproductive and he wanted to change things.

AndroDollar being pitched at GSEA 2018

So he started a tech blog and then took it one step further with a YouTube channel. His first camera was nothing more than his mother’s phone on a broom. Thus, Androdollar was born. Soon after, Banu also built other products such as Journal (a smart action camera) and an app called tuk check.

Coco Beetle Repellent

Coconuts are an important part of Sri Lanka’s ecosystem and a major plantation crop. However, coconut beetles are a major threat to them. Additionally, these coconut beetles are also known to feed on other commercial crops as well. As such, they’re a huge problem for those that depend on these crops.

Coco Beetle Repellent being pitched at GSEA 2018
Coco Beetle Repellent

Typically, most attempts to combat coconut beetles involve traps, chemicals, heat, and compost. However, sounds at a certain frequency are believed to repel coconut beetles. Thus, this startup aims to create a device that would repel beetles with this sound. The device would be controlled via Bluetooth and powered by a solar panel. However, it’s still merely a prototype that has a few limitations.

The GSEA 2018 National Champion is…

Ultimately, of the student startups, we saw at the GSEA 2018 National Finals, there would only be one winner. This winner would then represent Sri Lanka at the GSEA 2018 Global Finals. At the finals, they will meet other talented student entrepreneurs from all across the world. And the GSEA 2018 National Champion of Sri Lanka for 2018 is Pol Sambol!

Students building startups while studying: GSEA 2018 5
Contestants and judges of GSEA 2018



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