Entrepreneurship is required to be one of the top priorities in any nation, and it needs to be encouraged in order to strengthen the autonomous assets of a country. The world is currently confronting massive challenges with the pandemic’s existence and as a developing country, the Sri Lankan government is compelled to support entrepreneurs in their efforts to resurrect the local economy.
Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) has been active since 2010, nurturing Sri Lankan entrepreneurship. The ultimate purpose of this was to equip the Sri Lankan economy with a quality brigade of entrepreneurs to compete in the international arena. As the apex ICT institution of the government, ICTA initiated the Spiralation program, to support Sri Lankan tech startups in 2010 and is running its 9th cohort by 2021.
Reaching a major milestone, the ICTA has successfully concluded the inaugural Spiralation Demo Day on Monday 20th of December 2021 at ICTA, SPARX Lab. The Demo Day featured 10 Spiralation startups. These Spiralation startups have already passed their early stages and have gained traction in the market.
Starting off the proceedings, Mr. Sachindra Samararathne, Director, Startup Ecosystem Development, ICTA, stated, “This wonderful program (Spiralation) started off back in 2010. During our previous tenure, we witnessed the emergence of startups as we saw the growth of the startup ecosystem. Even though ICTA started off this program, it has now become the national incubator program as so many collaborators have joined hands”
The presence of potential clients and investors for these Spiralation startups at the Demo Day can be considered a significant fact. After the pitches, there was a business matchmaking session arranged by the ICTA. While there were also many dignitaries at the event from multiple industry verticals who were new to corporate innovations. This is a massive step that ICTA took to connect startups with corporates. Each startup was provided with five minutes to present their solutions, followed by an engaging five-minute question and answer session.
“Currently, we have a USD 1.5 billion IT industry in Sri Lanka, and we’re looking forward to making it USD 3 billion. We are not going to stop here. Hence, we’re planning to have our own technoparks. As the ICTA, we’re with you to ensure that we go along on this journey with you all, “said Mr. Oshadha Senanayake, Chairman, ICTA, while addressing the gathering.
Kicking things off, Keerthi Kodithuwakku, CEO and co-founder, Jendo Innovations, was the first to pitch his solution. Jendo is a preventative healthcare solution that is highly scalable and non-invasive that can identify abnormalities in the cardiovascular system and predict the risk of the disease. Migara Amithodhana, the head of Magicbit, was the next in line to pitch his solution, which is an all-in-one development platform built for innovation and designed to learn and practice internet-of-things, robotics, computer programming and so on.
Representing the 2021 Spiralation cohort, Urmila Chandrasekeram, co-founder of Mintpay, was the third in line to pitch his idea. MintPay is Sri Lanka’s first “buy now, pay later” platform where consumers are given the chance to pay for their goods in installments through online purchases. The next pitch in the line was conducted by Sanjeewa Pathirana, Founder and CEO of Nanosoft Smart Co-op, which is a fintech startup that is focused on empowering the Sri Lankan rural financial sector by creating a banking solution for cooperative banks in the island.
Furthermore, it helps digitize cooperative banking processes to provide a faster and accurate service. At the Spiralation Demo Day, Nipuna Abeykoon, director and co-founder of Neo Minds, was next in line to pitch his solution. Neo Minds develops a remote sensing technology that detects the palm weevil insects that attack palm trees. The predominant idea here is to proactively detect the risk before the attack.
Addressing the Spiralation Demo Day, Eng. Mahinda B. Herath, CEO of ICTA, mentioned, “As ICTA is the mandated agency to drive the digital transformation in the country, we’ve created the roadmap with a solid foundation, and it has been approved by the government. Today we’re doing the initial match-making for budding startups in Sri Lanka. “
For the next pitch, Sharmilan Somasundaram represented Niftron, who is the co-founder and chief executive of Niftron, Niftron is a blockchain as a service platform that allows anyone to integrate blockchain with their products. It improves trust by providing transparency. Sachin Wickramasinghe, the co-founder of Thyaga, was next in line to pitch at the Demo Day. Thyaga is Sri Lanka’s first and largest e-gift voucher website. It allows users to purchase customized gift vouchers from a wide range of merchants.
The co-founder and director of Traccular, Ajeewan Aru, hosted the next session of pitches. Tracullar is a cloud-based visitor management and contact tracing application, where businesses can track the movement of their visitors, meetings and meeting space bookings. Ismail Sadurdeen, the managing director of Univiser pitched his solution subsequently. Univiser is a customizable peer-to-peer platform that can connect prospective students and university student ambassadors to build meaningful connections across the globe. The final presentation in the pitch line-up was conducted by Dumin Sahiet, the founder and chief geek of Yenasys, which is the ultimate omnichannel contact center to reach consumers of a particular business within a single platform.
Wrapping up the Demo Day, the Chief Digital Economy Officer at the ICTA, Mr. Anura De Alwis, addressing the gathering, stated, “I’ve been experiencing all the youngsters doing extremely well this evening. And, this Spiralation program has been running for 10 years, helping more than a hundred startups.”
Demo Day marks a significant milestone in the ICTA’s 10-year journey of aspiring entrepreneurs. With the aid of many governments and non-government collaborators in the cause, the output being rendered towards the startup ecosystem has become immense. These efforts will raise Sri Lankan entrepreneurism to greater heights and fund the Sri Lankan economy in the years to come.
Photo Caption – A glimpse of the Inaugural ‘Spiralation’ Demo Day by ICTA, at SPARX Lab.