Venture Engine 2015 announces Top 3 Start-Ups at Finale All 11 Finalists move forward to explore opportunities with an International Panel of Investors


Venture Engine 1
Winners of Venture Engine 2015 – Co-Founders of Stripes & Checks, Udara Ratnayake, Kalana Jayasuriya, and Gajan Vinothan.

The Venture Engine entrepreneurship development program drew to a close at The

OZO, Colombo on 23 June, marking a successful four-year run. The 11 finalists behind

the top ranked projects made their final presentations to a panel of internationally

renowned judges comprising members of the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and Indian

Angel Network (IAN). Of the final presentations, the top three business plans belonging

to Stripes & Checks, Yamu, and Audio Book received this year’s honors.

Speaking on the talent pool the investors assessed, Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-

Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures said, “This year’s talent pool represented a wider

array of sectors than we have seen before. We also saw a significantly higher degree of

innovative thinking and passion brought to the table. The investors were especially

impressed by the level of forward thinking and proactive solutions that were presented.

The fact that the projects consistently keep improving every year is an indication that

entrepreneurs are developing greater confidence and have truly thought through their

business plans. As always, Venture Engine is pleased to lead the creation of this

ecosystem in Sri Lanka.”

Venture Engine 2015 saw 150 entries encompassing a wide range of industries such as

Food Technology & Processing, Ayurvedic & Healthcare, Education, Design, Gaming,

Chemical & Fertilisers, IT & Ecommerce, Social Media, Tourism & Hospitality, Bio Tech

and Logistics. The finale was attended by potential investors from the Sri Lankan,

Venture Engine 2
Jeremy Huxtable, Group Chief Officer, Dialog Enterprise, Hanif Yousuf, Group CEO, ExpoLanka, and Jeevan Gnanam, CEO, Orion City with the Venture Engine 2015 1st runner up Indi Samarajiva, Founder, YAMU.

Indian, Chinese and US business communities.

In what is described as a highly advanced level of competition, this year’s winners

include, Stripes & Checks, manufacturers of made to measure shirts, Yamu an online

guide to dining and leisure in Sri Lanka, and Audio Book a company that provides books

in audio format which are also available native languages. The next step for these

businesses as well as the other 8 finalists will be dialogues with potential investors and

discussions on logistical decisions on the next phase of their growth.

A unique aspect of the program is the opportunity afforded to every participant

regardless of final ranking. Throughout the competition – during pitches, workshops and

presentations, the participants work closely with potential investors from LAN who often

choose to invest additionally in many businesses other than just the finalists.

Mr. Hanif Yusoof, Group CEO of Expolanka, speaking on the company’s decision to be

the Platinum Sponsor of Venture Engine for the fourth year, explained, “As a company

160/1 Polhengoda Road, Colombo 5 | +94 773 082 888 |

with entrepreneurship engrained its DNA, Expo Lanka is a strong believer in the

potential that is brought to light at every single Venture Engine installation. This

association is our way of continuing to support the growth of new businesses and the

realisation of dreams, while helping the talented individuals behind them to achieve their


Speaking on this year’s competition, Jeevan Gnanam, CEO of OrionCity, Sri Lanka and

also a Platinum Sponsor of Venture Engine explained, “The SA Group and now Orion is

built on a strong foundation of entrepreneurship. Every year we look forward to being

part of this program, our way of being part and giving back to the exciting and quickly

growing ecosystem of startup culture.”

“We are humbled to have been given the opportunity to partner with the Venture Engine

programme for the fourth consecutive year running,” Mr. Anthony Rodrigo, Group Chief

Information Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC said. “The platform shaped by the Venture

Engine programme has been instrumental for providing the capital and expertise

needed for the augmentation of entrepreneurial spirit that will take Sri Lankan startups

to reach their full potential not only locally, but on a global stage as well. I wish all finalist

Venture Engine 3
Jeevan Gnanam, CEO, Orion City, Hanif Yousuf, Group CEO, ExpoLanka, and Jeremy Huxtable, Group Chief Officer, Dialog Enterprise, with Buddika Witharana and Shanaka Mendis, of Infocom International, Lisn, Audio books.

of Venture Engine 2015 all success.”

Ehantha Sirisena, Managing Director of OMAK Technologies said, “Venture Engine was

an amazing experience. Not only did it help us grow and attract a high level of

investment, it also provided the mentoring and insight that made it possible for us to

bridge so many gaps in so short a time. I would like to congratulate this year’s winners

and wish them the success they deserve.”

Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network, speaking on the success of the

2015 installation of Venture Engine said, “Venture Engine is growing year on year – and

in every way!! It has seen an increase in number of startups, sectors and investors!

Clearly, entrepreneurship has come to stay in Sri Lanka and Venture Engine has been

the big catalyst for this. IAN is a proud Founding Partner.”

Commenting on the program’s progress, Eric Wikramanayake, Chairman, LAN, said,

“The Venture Engine programme has become one of the invaluable cornerstones of the

Sri Lankan startup ecosystem and has led to numerous high growth Sri Lankan startup

companies getting funded. The Lankan Angel Network as the Strategic Partner to VE

looks forward to helping these companies accelerate further and support VE in

expanding the programme in the future.”

The months following the program are as intensive as the competition itself, with the

entrepreneurs and investors working together to finalise business plans, establish the

businesses, and procure a client base. The program also includes a session on follow

on funding for previous years’ candidates to obtain guidance on expansion plans.

Venture Engine has been gathering momentum over the last four years and will return

in 2016 with an even larger pool of investors and mentors. Further information and

updates are available on

160/1 Polhengoda Road, Colombo 5 | +94 773 082 888 |