We frequently discuss Sri Lankan startups and the exciting products that are being developed on a daily basis. This industry has grown into a busy and increasingly ambitious one over the years. According to the Startup Genome Report for 2021 (page 89), the market value of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem is USD 132 million. However, the startup conversation almost always revolves around the tech sphere. However, there are equally, if not more, promising entrepreneurial efforts in other sectors. So, for a change, we thought we’d shine a light on a few startups that don’t necessarily fall into the tech category.
The first on the list is a platform that exclusively hosts Sri Lankan products, with a focus on “micro-small-medium” enterprises. Everything from pure bee honey from Sri Lanka’s North and North Central regions to coconut jam with cinnamon can be found here. You can even find interesting tidbits about some of the products listed.
Surprisingly, Goodfolks is also concerned with sustainability. Products featured on the platform, according to the website, must be organic, ethical, and sustainable.
Aside from the website, a limited product range is available at other retailers such as Odel and Keells.
This is possibly the most well-known name on the list of Sri Lankan startups. But if you haven’t seen their unmistakably logo-free t-shirts yet, you’re losing out. It’s a clothing business online that’s “all about ease and peace of mind.” To mention a few items from Bear Appeal’s everyday wear collection, there are comfy and colorful crew-neck t-shirts, polo shirts, undergarments, and socks. To top it all off, the store provides free delivery around the island.
Bear Appeal also has a project called Bear Appeal X. This is where content providers and other well-known Sri Lankans can sell official products. Bear Appeal X now sells merchandise from popular YouTubers Podda, Maniya, and Kalu Malli.
Ceylon Leather Crafts
Thilina Perera is the mastermind behind the project. He’s a self-taught leather craftsman with a growing following on Instagram and TikTok, where he often discusses his skill. His website sells a wide range of leather goods, such as European bifold wallets, card wallets, messenger bags, and laptop sleeves.
If you’re wondering if Ceylon Leather Crafts takes custom orders, the answer is yes. More information can be found on the Instagram page.
Olai is a Jaffna-based firm focused on Palmyrah. You’ll find a wide range of Palmyrah-based goods here. There’s the traditional Panankaddi that everyone loves (palmyrah jaggery). The majority of Olai’s products range from multi-colored handbags to leaf trivets and pen holders.
Olai was one of the finalists in the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 8 and was founded by former Uki alumnus Yathusha Kulendran. Olai has since evolved into a promising young startup.
Who doesn’t enjoy nuts? There aren’t many people who do nuts as well as The Nuttery. It’s an idea that arose in the aftermath of COVID-19, and it’s one that’s been well received by other kaju lovers.
Do you prefer dark chocolate hazelnuts from Belgium? Would you like some trail mix? Or are you more of a pol pani cashew person? In any case, there are plenty of possibilities on The Nuttery. But, of course, it’s not just insane. There’s also a selection of dried fruits, Puttalam wild bee honey, and butter and spreads.
Here’s another startup that’s fighting for environmentally friendly alternatives. Eco360 has a single goal: to reduce the use of plastic. They accomplish this by providing biodegradable bags manufactured from a starch foundation as opposed to the standard plastic bags seen in supermarkets. The bags are non-toxic and completely compostable in a few of months.
Eco360 was founded in 2014 with the purpose of transitioning from single-use plastics to biodegradable materials. The “Compost Me” bag, which debuted a few years later, is one method the Sri Lankan business hopes to accomplish this. By early 2020, Eco360 has partnered with Keells to assist the company in reducing its use of plastic.
Sri Lankan startups: A fostering landscape
So there you have it. Now, before you go “what about X, Y, and Z?” at us, this is only a tiny glimpse of the startup ecosystem. This is a testament to the different ways businesses are formed around interesting ideas each day.
This also reinforces the fact that the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem extends far beyond the tech landscape. So regardless of whether you’re building a social network for volunteer work or creating custom leather products, it’s an intriguing terrain that continues to foster in the island nation. Here’s to all the Sri Lankan startups out there.