Following the success of the Startup Boot Camp programme and Demo Day organized by Venture Frontier Lanka and Ovibees on the 2nd and 3rd of May 2018 in Colombo, the team at Venture Frontier Lanka headed to the town of Jaffna that weekend. This was to carry out another Startup Boot Camp programme.
At the Seth Levine, founder of The Foundry Group, a Colorado-based VC firm. He shared that the breaking down of geographic boundaries that previously confined entrepreneurial communities is now making entrepreneurship a viable option for regions outside of the traditional startup hotspots of Silicon Valley. He went on to explain that entrepreneurial communities thrive best in open environments. This is further improved when information sharing is free and when entrepreneurs have access to other entrepreneurs.
A glimpse into Jaffna’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
In partnership with Yarl IT Hub in Jaffna, the Startup Boot Camp in Jaffna trained and mentored founders from 19 startups in Jaffna. Many of these individuals were graduates from UKI. For those of you who don’t know, UKI is Yarl IT Hub’s 6-month coding school. We wrote about UKI a while back. It seems that they certainly are doing well.
Most of the companies or startups that attended the Startup Boot Camp in Jaffna are already generating revenue with fully functional MVPs. The VFL Startup Boot Camp, hosted at the Yarl IT Hub’s brand new co-working center, featured design thinking and leadership workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and a pitching session.
Here, startups could pitch their product or service with the aim of impressing a panel of judges. At the end of the Startup Boot Camp, 3 startups were selected.
- idea Factory, which is creating a patented plastic bottle recycling machine that will automatically reimburse bottle recyclers with mobile phone credit.`
- Second Place: Cookoo, a company that will soon showcase gourmet in-home dining experiences in Jaffna that travelers and local foodies alike can book online and pay online as well.
- Second Place: Skyline, a local print shop that is going digital and serving the Jaffna and global market by taking advantage of technology to allow customers to create custom orders online.
A need for mentorship and international connections
“More than money, I personally need mentorship; connection with someone who has been there and understands the construction industry abroad, who has connections and feels interested in hearing about our product, giving us feedback and making introductions on our behalf,” Shared Nithushan Uthayakumar, a national mentor at the VFL boot camp in Jaffna, who is also the founder of Blue Lotus 360, an enterprise resources planning software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup.
The future of Venture Frontier Lanka initiatives
VFL’s next initiative will be a nation-wide entrepreneurial challenge open to startup founders from the entire country. Watch for the official call for applications this June on our Facebook page. They also plan a two-month accelerator at the end of 2018 designed for the top 15 ventures that will feature an innovation house, weekly dedicated mentorship meetings with each startup, global mentor networking dinners with experts from around the globe, as well as access to pitch in front of an investment panel.