Expolanka Holdings PLC
Venture Engine has brought many dreams to reality by funding over US$ 5 million in the last 3 years for 20 start-ups. The programme through the start-ups has created direct and indirect jobs of over 1,000.
INTRODUCTIONExpolanka’s business has been built on the premise of great entrepreneurship and has a covenant that reads “Doing business with a dare to do spirit”. It is with this spirit that Expolanka wanted to launch a programme to support budding entrepreneurs. Venture Engine, a unique project aimed at creating real opportunity for Sri Lankan Entrepreneurs, was officially launched in March 2012. Conceptualized by Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network, and backed by Expolanka as the Platinum Sponsor, the project creates a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch directly to potential investors while also providing comprehensive mentoring for the selected businesses. The launch marks the official call for business plan submissions by aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking to expand their early stage businesses. Following an evaluation the top selection of plans is called in for presentations and mentoring workshops where the entrepreneurs have the opportunity to work directly with leading investors and businessmen from the region to fine tune their pitches. While the top 3 plans will be selected and awarded a series of prizes, the real potential of the event lies in creating visibility for the participating entrepreneurs to a network of potential investors who are all encouraged to explore investment opportunities outside the scope of the event.
FRAMEWORK AND STRATEGYOne of the biggest problems people face as first time entrepreneurs is the start up or expansion capital and advice in setting up their businesses. There have been many entrepreneur awards shows and a few development programmes hosted by different companies and associations in the past, but never a programme which actually found the “funding” to get the entrepreneur started on his/her dream. Venture Engine – the first of its kind in Sri Lanka – aims to create a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to launch their dream and expand it into reality with much help from some of the biggest movers and shakers in this region of the world.
Therein, these business ventures and their founders are given the opportunity to present their ideas before a panel of potential investors, affording them much valuable critique and insight into their pitch, and possibly even the capital and partners required to jumpstart their businesses. Venture Engine offers each entrepreneur shortlisted from the main submissions, a host of benefits few in the business world would ever achieve in such a rapid succession. Most of which is crucial to every emerging business. Valuable insight into business planning, mentoring on creating a successful business plan to gain funding, access to a series of high profile potential investors, networking with successful entrepreneurs and mentoring by successful and experienced professionals.
ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPACTVenture Engine has brought many dreams to reality by funding over US$ 5 million in the last 3 years for 20 start-ups. The start-ups include 24×7 Techies, Ridgecrest, Takas.lk, Saraii, Healthy Living, Omak, Extrogene, Katha, Zig Zag, Zacki, My Wish, BPO Academy, Wild Trails, Trekurious, Intelocut, Endemic, Push, Glitteray, House of Lonali, & Nithya. The invested areas include IT/BPO, Travel and tourism, E-commerce and Design building up of the local start-up Ecosystem.
The programme through the start-ups has created direct and indirect jobs of over 1,000, which has a direct positive impact on the economy and in some cases uplifting rural economy. As a result of the programme The Lankan Angel Network was launched to further support and build the start-up eco-system. Today LAN has over 60 members including top CEOs of Blue Chip companies.
FUTURE DIRECTIONExpolanka will further assist this programme by way of funding and getting involved in the overall planning and execution of the event. It plans to further expand the programme to have participants from neighboring Asian countries and will bring in more and more angel investors to assist with the funding aspect with an end objective if funding more and more businesses with lots of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.
Expolanka Holdings is a diversified conglomerate with interests in Freight & Logistics, Travel & Leisure, International Trading & Manufacturing and investment & services. It has a global presence in over 18 countries and 45 cities. Its CSR strategy focuses on the areas of Environment, Community Development, Health, Entrepreneurship and Disaster Relief.