StartupX Foundry: Powering Lankan startups into the global arena
The idea behind StartupX Foundry germinated from what in fact was a problem faced by a Sri Lankan IT company. But first, what really is StartupX Foundry?
It is essentially a tech startup catalyst, an initiative to hone technological ventures with potential and take them from inspiration to exit, powered by a dynamic ecosystem of both local and international talent, investors and startup personalities to provide the tools necessary to take an idea, forge it into a viable product or service and take it to market.
How it all began
Which brings us back to – how did this all come about? It stemmed from an issue faced by a local IT firm. The issue? While the company has been immensely successful in building products and spearheading pioneering research in many segments, one main area it finally lagged in was the inability to commercialise this research and products – it lacked the software marketing component.
It was here that the StartupX Foundry was born. Understanding that this inability to commercialise was a problem faced by many, a group of likeminded individuals arrived at the idea of setting up an incubator to take ideas and research, bring on board the expertise to nurture the idea and really accelerate it to market. Sri Lanka is now at a stage where it is ripe for idea incubation and acceleration and this seemed like a big step in the right direction.
Why might Lankan startups fail?
In order to build up an ecosystem that could offer suitable and practical services to local ventures, the leadership of StartupX Foundry had to look at why startups may fail in the Sri Lankan context. One reason is their lack of knowledge in building market winning products. While many of our young talented individuals have fantastic ideas, they sometimes lack the competency to build with the bigger picture in mind.
Secondly, is the limited access to global markets, which in turn stifles their ‘global outlook’ when it comes to building products. Their views can be very short-term when developing their ideas, lacking the scalability required to take products global.
Another reason is sometimes the lack of depth in terms of product management and business development, which finally sees them unable to commercialise good ideas.
StartupX Foundry assets
The assets of StartupX Foundry were put together based on the shortcomings identified above, to be able to combat the lacking elements in the Sri Lankan startup sphere. Its main asset is its leadership, comprising of Pete Deemer, Dumindra Ratnayaka, Dag Honningsvåg and Mano Sekaram.
As CEO of GoodAgile and Former VP – Product Development of Yahoo!, Pete boasts a massive network of global connections, truly understands the ins and outs of product development, and comes with a wealth of experience in this ecosystem.
Over 25 years of experience in telecommunications and a long standing Lankan angel investor, Former CEO of Etisalat Dumindra Ratnayaka has his finger on the pulse of the Lankan community and has a deep understanding of what investors look for in products.
With his experience in building up multibillion dollar companies and through his position on the boards of many European tech companies, Chairman of Driw AS Dag Honningsvåg perceives European markets and investor sentiment a vital tool for our local ventures to break into global markets.
Then there is a pioneering figure in the Lankan IT industry, CEO of 99X Technology Mano Sekaram, who in his line of work knows the ins and outs of cutting-edge software development and understands what a European clientele look for in their tech products and services.
This leadership is backed by European partners, including the premier Norwegian startup incubator StartupLab, with its vast understanding of accelerating tech startups, as well as leading Denmark-based creative agency – cre8o.
These connections to the global startup ecosystem, supported by a futuristic office in the heart of Colombo that’s fully equipped to host six startups (or up to 40 people) creates quite the prospect for fledgling ventures in the Lankan startup ecosystem.
How does it work?
StartupX Foundry is open to our thriving startup ecosystem. Innovators and entrepreneurs can approach the Foundry with their ideas after which it will be put through a stringent validation process to really evaluate the market potential of the idea – not just locally but globally. Resources will be made available as required to then develop the product or service and take it to market.
However, you don’t need to just be someone with an idea to come onboard! StartupX Foundry aspires to be a gathering point for all those involved in the local startup ecosystem – mentors, supporters, investors and all others. The premises boast a large, open space that can be utilised for brainstorming, improving of business models, creative engagement and even to meet like-minded people.
StartupX Foundry has already commenced its efforts in bringing together the Lankan startup community, and uplifting the business and technical acumen of local startups, by hosting the Colombo Tech Startup Seminar, which saw the participation of over 150 attendees and featured several startup heavyweights in the European and Sri Lankan startup scene on its speaker line-up. This was followed by an official launch at the office premises, attended by personalities from the Lankan startup ecosystem.
For more information on Sri Lanka’s first dedicated venture building initiative, check out www.startupxfoundry.com or swing by the office located at 7, Charles Place, Colombo 3.