Venture Engine advances to workshop phase

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Sri Lanka’s pioneering startup acceleration program, Venture Engine, has kicked off its workshops phase. Over the next few weeks, participants will be focusing on upgrading their business acumen and other skills and, as a consequence, become better prepared to engage with potential investors and mentors.

Now filtered down to the most fundable startups following a series of two-minute pitches held on 16th November 2021, Venture Engine’s participants are currently taking part in a number of workshops wherein they will be challenged via interactive and group learning opportunities, and individualized mentoring. This will culminate in two more rounds of filtering, planned for December 2021 and January 2022, during which the pool of participants will be whittled down further until the program’s finalists will be selected. They will then move to this edition’s Finale, which has already been slated for 27th January 2022.

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According to Kishan Nadarajah, Principal at BOV Capital, who took part in first round of filtering: “We are pleased to have once again seen a very positive response to Venture Engine in 2021, especially considering Sri Lanka has only recently emerged from a lockdown that lasted several weeks. The number and quality of the submissions received in 2021 has been encouraging, including representation from high growth potential sectors like FinTech, EduTech, Logistics, Sustainability, etc.”

“By filtering this year’s large number of submissions to the most promising and fundable startups, we feel we can better prepare them to meet the expectations of the VCs, Angels and other HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals) attending our Finale showcase next month. And our ultimate hope is that those taking part in the Venture Engine program will one day pass on their skills and aid Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem in continuing to grow, and shine, globally,” added Mr. Nadarajah.

This phase of Venture Engine 2021 comprises the following workshops:  “What investors look for in a pitch/deck”, by BOV Capital; “Branding you and your business”, by AOD; “Financial due diligence”, from KPMG; “Finance planning and governance”, by PwC; “Funding cycle and valuation,” from Aavishkaar Capital; “Go to market and the value proposition”, by SL@100; and “Shareholder agreements and legal governance”, from Nithya Partners.

It is also noteworthy that these workshops go beyond just teaching the basics. Instead, they have been created to be especially impactful, by delving deeply into specific, real-world pain points with which startups have historically struggled. For instance, workshops on utilizing raised funds and managing cash flow, as well as other crucial tasks such as calculating burn rates, customer acquisition costs, pricing, etc., are included this year too. All of which is very useful knowledge required for a startup to succeed.

Continuing strongly into its tenth year, Venture Engine is geared towards helping innovative and scalable startups solve a genuine pain point. It is founded by BOV Capital and the Indian Angel Network, and partnered by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN). The Ford Foundation is the program’s Platinum Sponsor for 2021.

This year’s Venture Engine program will, for the fourth time, offer up a very special Impact Entrepreneurship Award that highlights for-profit Social Enterprises. This initiative is once again being promoted by Indian Venture Capital firm Aavishkaar, the Gold Sponsor for Venture Engine 2021. Other sponsors and partners for 2021 include ICTA, SL@100, Council for Startups, SLASSCOM, HATCH, Dialog Axiata PLC, KPMG, PwC, AOD, Shift and CPP.

Since it first kicked off 10 years ago, Venture Engine has become Sri Lanka’s most successful platform for accelerating, and growing, the country’s most promising new business ideas. Over a thousand Sri Lankan startups have been vetted and mentored by this program since its launch in 2012. To date, the Venture Engine program has attracted Rs. 2Bn+ in funding for 35 of Sri Lanka’s most exciting startups. Some successful Venture Engine startups include InsureMe, Roar, ZigZag.lk, Takas.lk, Saraii Village, Stripes & Checks, Skrumptious, Kimbula Kithul, Strive, PlushBox, Nithya, Extrogene, OMAK Technologies, LiveRoom, Intellocut, BusSeat.lk, IgniterSpace, House of Lonali and 24-7 Techies.

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