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The third instalment of the entrepreneurship development programme, Venture Engine concluded amidst an atmosphere of celebration at The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo. The entrepreneurs behind the top 14 fundable businesses made their final presentations to the panel of judges comprising members of the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and Indian Angel Network (IAN), from which three winning business plans were selected.
Taking the opportunity to recognize the achievements of the participating entrepreneurs in the 2014 competition, Prajeeth Balasubramanium, Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures commented: “This year’s entrepreneurs have shown incredible sophistication of thought, bold innovations and perseverance. This is encouraging as it points to greater confidence in the entrepreneurial path and higher levels of exposure to the process, giving budding entrepreneurs firmer conviction in their decisions. We are very excited to witness the positive effects of creating an effective platform for entrepreneurs to excel.”
In what judges described as a close competition, Manasij Ganguli’s “Intellocut”, an intelligent material planning and optimization software took first place. It was followed by Ehantha Sirisena’s “OMAK” offering IT solutions with a focus on restaurant management; and “Extrogene”, a software solutions provider with a focus on the TELCO sector by Ruwan Dissanayaka and Thushara Rankothge. The exposure to the panel of angel investors that the participants receive, positions them in favour of receiving funding for their businesses even if they are not placed amongst the top three.
Speaking at the event Expolanka Group CEO, Hanif Yusoof stated, "Few people understand the vision that drives an entrepreneur and the passion that keeps them striving, it is a rare gift that needs to be nurtured and supported. Beginning as a single store in the 1970s it was this vision
of something bigger that enabled us to grow to one of Sri Lanka's finest enterprises and to stabilize our footing in the global arena with a strong international partner in SG Holdings Japan. This is why we felt Venture Engine was the ideal project for us to support as we strive to make a difference in the lives of people with great ideas and great potential. We have seen Venture Engine bringing approximately LKR 200 million in funding in the last two years and we find the progress commendable and we are happy with the action-oriented approach Venture Engine unceasingly adopts.” Expolanka is a Platinum Sponsor of the event.
“My expectations were exceeded by the level of entrepreneurship shown and the level of entrepreneurs available in Sri Lanka today. Orion in its DNA intrinsically understands entrepreneurship and has chosen to participate in fostering and taking it forward in Sri Lanka. 200Mn for 12 startups, great achievement so far. If the Industry is to achieve 1Bn by end of 2015 and 5Bn by 2022 we have to give rise to a new breed of entrepreneurs in our country,” said Jeevan Gnanam, CEO of OrionCity, Sri Lanka also a Platinum Sponsor of Venture Engine.
"We are privileged to be a partner supporting Venture Engine for the third year running,” Jeremy Huxtable, Group Chief Officer at Dialog Enterprise said. “Venture capital plays a critical role in providing the investment and resources needed for innovative enterprises to realize their full potential not only locally, but on the global stage as well. I wish all finalists of Venture Engine 2014 all success.” Dialog Enterprise is the Gold Sponsor of the programme.
The event, well-attended by Colombo’s business community, showcased the impressive entrepreneurial spirit of the country to an engaged audience.
The finale marks the beginning of the next stage for each of the Top 14 Fundable businesses as their discussions with potential investors now take centre stage. Over the next few months these businesses will be taking important decisions on the next stages of their growth based on on-going dialog with investors from the LAN and IAN.
Speaking at the event, Rayhana Iyne, former Venture Engine runner up and CEO of Glitteray said, "Venture Engine has helped me seek the funding and mentoring that I needed to accelerate my business to the next level. Good luck to this year's finalists who set out on their entrepreneurial journey."
"Another VE edition ends! Huge excitement by over a dozen IAN investors - and excellent invertible ventures! Now to rock these by taking them to markets beyond Sri Lanka, especially India. Congrats to each VE entrepreneur!" enthused Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network.
A resounding success Venture Engine will be back in 2015 and all signs point towards an even bigger response from budding entrepreneurs.