Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network in partnership with the Lankan Angel Network announced the launch of Venture Engine 2015 at an event held at the OZO Colombo.
Since its inception in 2012, Venture Engine has been helping entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level and has proven to be both an invaluable resource for mentoring as well as a platform for the growth and expansion of start up and early stage businesses.
To date 15 companies have been funded by the program to the value of over Rs. 500 million, with companies such as Takas.lk, Trekurious, Ridgecrest, Saraii, Nithya, Glitteray and 24-7 Techies to name a few, being propelled into the fast lane through their exposure to the panel of Angel Investors and their participation in Venture Engine in the past. Several participant companies have also leveraged local success to expand to international markets.
The 2015 chapter; the competition’s fourth consecutive installation; aims to foster entrepreneurship further by not only acting as a springboard for the top businesses and garnering investment, but also by providing all participants with the insights and knowledge necessary to establish their businesses on more robust foundations. Venture Engine 2015, as in previous years, will open doors to financial backing in addition to providing access to a wealth of expertise in the form of workshops and mentoring sessions via the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and the Indian Angel Network (IAN).
The launch event was hosted by top representatives from the collaboration including Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures, and Mr. Rajan Anandan from the Indian Angel Network and Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures. Mr. Paddy Weerasekera, Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications & CSR, Expolanka Holdings, Mr. Jeevan Gnanam, CEO of Orion City and Mr. Jeremy Huxtable, Group Chief Officer, Dialog Enterprise and Shakya Lahiru Pathmalal, takas.lk also addressed the gathering.
Entrepreneurs representing the funded companies from preceding installments were also in attendance representing the success of the program, its continued impact and potential for growth this year and in the future.
Endorsing the event for the fourth consecutive year are platinum sponsors Expolanka and Orion City, with Dialog Axiata continuing as Silver sponsor. Venture Engine is run, mentored and filtered by Strategic Partner the Lankan Angel Network – Sri Lanka’s first alliance of angel investors.
The competition is open to owners of existing early stage businesses as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. An open call for business plans was officially launched on 24 March and the close of submissions is scheduled for 12 May.
Speaking on the program, Mr. Balasubramaniam explained how the process benefits applicants to make the case for their business, while furthering their prospects, “What sets Venture Engine apart is that entrepreneurs are granted the opportunity to interact directly with investors. They also benefit from mentoring by LAN and IAN as well as the fact that any start-up, regardless of industry or size has an equal opportunity to succeed and get the necessary investment and backing. Since its inception in 2012, the program has seen an impressive display of talent and drive, reinforcing the value of the program and motivating other entrepreneurs to take the leap and grow their business.”
“IAN investors are excited about the Lankan startups! Early investments in Takas, House of Lonali etc. have proved that local mentoring from Lankan investors and large market access from IAN investors can create high growth companies. IAN is super excited to once again partner with BOV and Lankan Angel Network for yet another edition of Venture Engine. This is a perfect opportunity for Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to leverage the investor excitement for startups in India, and build valuable companies,” said Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network.
“As a company which has a strong entrepreneurship DNA, Expolanka understands the challenges faced by budding entrepreneurs in the current climate and is keen to be a part of the process that enables them to grow. The Venture Engine program has over the last three years proven to support budding entrepreneurs and it makes us very proud to see companies who have gone through the competition and are now successfully operating both locally and internationally. We look forward to meeting this year’s pool of talent and wish them all the very best,” said Paddy Weerasekera, Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications & CSR, Expolanka Holdings.
Speaking on the success of the program, Jeevan Gnanam, CEO/Director of Orion City said, “”I am very happy to be a part of Venture Engine for the fourth year running, as it has become the gold standard for start-ups in the growing ecosystem in Sri Lanka.”
“The Venture Engine program has had a significant impact on the start-up ecosystem in Sri Lanka. Today, it has become possible to raise tens of millions of rupees for promising entrepreneurs who have ability and talent, but lack the financial resources and contacts. Each year we are more impressed with the caliber of entrepreneurs and businesses entering the competition. The Venture Engine program offers promising entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka the ability to not only develop their business rapidly in the local market, but to also expand regionally and internationally through the significant investor expertise, knowledge, and contacts of the Lankan Angel Network, the Indian Angel Network, and other international angel networks that the Lankan Angel Network has access to,” said Eric Wikramanayake, Chairman of LAN.
“Dialog was privileged to join hands with Venture Engine through our Ideamart platform last year, presenting young software-based entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain guidance and funding from industry specialists. An Ideamart entrepreneur placed second in last year’s competition, through venture funding, guidance from LAN mentors and participating in the Venture Engine workshop grew his business to new heights. Ideamart is the recent winner of the Global Mobile Award for Best Technology Enabler, and together this eco-system serves as the benchmark to the global entrepreneur and developer community of the growth outcomes and empowerment we create via this progressive platform. The Ideamart creation community numbers over 2,000, and Dialog is committed to growing the number of Sri Lankan innovators and we value the commitment and support rendered by Venture Engine as we work together to empower propel Sri Lankan talent to take on the global stage,” avers Anthony Rodrigo, Group Chief Information Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC.
Information on the program, previous years’ events and past participants are available on the project website www.ventureengine.lk. Application process information and resources are also available on the website with entries accepted on [email protected] Further assistance will be provided on contacting [email protected].