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Sri Lanka’s Angel Fund shortlists five startups for investment

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The Angel Fund Investment Committee members who unanimously select the startups for investment.

The Angel Fund, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, has shortlisted its five early-stage startups for potential investment; Niftron, Traccular, Medica, Soulboner Clothing, and Ophir. This follows an intense application and selection process, spanning September, October, and November 2020, which initially attracted 80 applications. 

The Angel Fund, launched earlier this year by the Lankan Angel Network (LAN), was established with the support of ecosystem development partner Ford Foundation to catalyze the growth of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem. Comprising 100 angel investors, including many high-profile entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, who represent more than a dozen sectors with proven competencies in over 20 functional domains, the Angel Fund is also distinct in that it features 20% of its investment from members based out of Canada, Dubai, Hongkong, Qatar, UK, and the USA.

The process was guided by the Fund’s high-profile Investment Committee (IC) consisting of angel Fund members Dumith Fernando, chairman of Colombo Stock Exchange/chairman of Asia Securities, Dumindra Ratnayaka, Chairman/Senior Consultant at Martin & George. The IC also comprises Nathan Sivagananathan, Co-Founder of Hatch Works; Anarkali Moonesinghe, former CEO of CIMB Sri Lanka; Mangala Karunaratne, Founder/CEO of Calcey Technologies; and Imal Kalutotage, Founder/CEO of NCINGA. Joining them as Independent IC Member is Shiluka Goonewardene, Principal – Deal Advisory – KPMG.

Angel Fund IC member Dumith Fernando stated, “The investment approval process for the Angel Fund was quite robust with seasoned experts from varied backgrounds participating in the Investment Committee. We were encouraged by the quality of the shortlisted startups that presented to us. We set a high bar for investment selection this time. And even among those founders who did not gain funding this quarter, we found several who would be investable with some tweaks to their business models and plan.”

Some shortlisted startups were:

• Niftron – A Blockchain-as-a-Service platform that allows for easy and efficient integration of blockchain with products or projects, enhancing ownership, transparency, and security.

• Traccular – A cloud-based IoT-enabled visitor management system that provides a scalable solution for companies looking for an efficient check-in and verification process to improve efficiency and security.

• Medica – A cloud-based patient and prescription management platform for doctors. From when a patient registers, to when they walk out with their medicines from the pharmacy, the entire process is managed within Medica, which aims to build a digital ecosystem for primary health care for Sri Lanka.

• Soulboner Clothing – A fun, casual Sri-Lankan streetwear line made for GenZ and the young Millennial. The brand focuses on creating a lifestyle and a community and boasts a customer base in many countries. 

• Ophir – A brand focusing on a range of chemical and synthetic-free, all-natural body care and spa products, which deliver the rich benefits of Camellia Sinensis, Ceylon Tea. Ophir taps into the skyrocketing global demand for natural skincare products, with the added advantage of Sri Lanka’s millennia-old fame resulting from its cornucopia of botanicals, spices, and herbs, as well as Ayurveda.

Independent IC Member Shiluka Goonewardene said, “The finalists for evaluation by the committee were all startups with good ideas and opportunities. The varied experience of the IC members enabled us to evaluate and shortlist the best participants for the funding stage. Overall, it was a great learning experience for me as well, listening to the presentations of the finalists and the follow-up discussions among the IC members.”

These startups will be featured at the LAN hosted Angel Roundup, an exclusive virtual event to be held in mid-December for the network’s angel investors. The event is partnered with Sri Lanka’s largest private-sector retail bank Hatton National Bank PLC, a long-term strategic partner for LAN

Commenting on behalf of the top five shortlisted startups, Ophir Founder Rohini Nordmann said, “The Angel Fund has been both rigorous and supportive of its participants. A winning combination for the investment seekers as well as the investors.”

Angel Fund IC member Anarkali Moonesinghe added, “The Angel Fund was created to bridge the gaps that exist within the startup ecosystem in terms of opening this alternative asset class to a wider audience as well as connecting these investors with incredible entrepreneurs. It serves as not only an avenue to secure funding at an early stage, but also affords startups access to an amazing group of individuals who can be true mentors while, also, opening doors to international markets and networks.”

The Rs. 100 million Angel Fund has plans to eventually invest in six to 10 high potential startups in total, gearing them up to scale domestically, and even internationally. It is managed by LAN’s fund management team, which continues to identify and evaluate opportunities for investment across the island, including in traditionally underserved regions. The fund is dedicated to investing in, and mentoring and supporting, early-stage startups across multiple sectors; from making investments at the early stages, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding. 



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Strong Q4 net profit growth boosts Teejay Lanka’s outlook for year ahead

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Teejay Lanka Chairman Ajit Gunewardene (left) and CEO MPubudu De Silva

Strong net profit growth in the final quarter of 2023-24 has enabled Teejay Lanka PLC to end the financial year on an optimistic note despite the impacts of the appreciation of the Rupee, which contributed to its 12-month results falling below those of the preceding year.

Sri Lanka’s first multinational textile manufacturer has reported net profit of Rs 549.1 million for the three months ending 31st March 2024, up 260% over the corresponding quarter of the previous year and a 15% improvement over the preceding quarter.

Despite an increase in sales volumes, the Group’s revenue for the quarter, at Rs 15.3 billion, was down 4% over the figure for the third quarter of the year and 12% lower than the revenue of the corresponding quarter of the previous year. This was due to the appreciation of the Sri Lanka Rupee.

For the year ending 31st March 2024, Teejay Lanka reported revenue of Rs 60.8 billion, profit before tax of Rs 1.6 billion, and net profit of Rs 1.1 billion, reflecting declines of 28%, 49% and 48% respectively over 2022-23 as a result of the softening of the global market conditions during the year.

Nevertheless, the Group ended the financial year with a strong balance sheet with a cash and cash equivalents balance of Rs 8.9 billion and a net assets base of Rs 30.1 billion. Teejay’s net assets value per share of Rs 42 was lower by 6% when compared to the corresponding quarter, stemming from the strengthening of the Rupee against the Dollar, the Group said.

“The Group has reported gross profit of Rs 1.5 billion representing a year-on-year increase of 27% and a 17% increase when compared to the third quarter, as a result of the effective utilisation of the Group’s capacity at its two locations,” Teejay Lanka CEO Pubudu De Silva said. “Further optimisation of capacity utilisation and operational efficiency and stability in yarn prices have positively contributed to this growth, strengthening our confidence for the year ahead.”

Commenting on the Group’s performance in the concluded financial year, Teejay Lanka Chairman Ajit Gunewardene said it was encouraging to note the success of the multifaceted strategic initiatives undertaken to reverse the losses of the first quarter and to respond to market dynamics.

Gunewardene added: “The Group’s long-term priorities include digitalization, establishing and executing a robust ESG framework, reducing costs, developing new products, enhancing synthetic capacity, and uplifting and empowering human capital to enhance resourcefulness. These strategies are expected to come into effect in the current financial year, indicating promising prospects for the future and enabling the Group to mitigate the impact of identified pressures, volatilities, and challenges.”

The Teejay Group owns manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka and India, along with a state-of-the-art printing facility in Sri Lanka. An ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 compliant company and the first in the industry to develop green fabric, Teejay Lanka was also the first textile manufacturer in Sri Lanka to receive membership of the US Cotton Trust Protocol. Teejay is a public quoted company with 40 per cent public ownership and the backing of Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter Brandix Lanka which has a 33 per cent stake in the Company. Pacific Textiles of Hong Kong, whose key shareholder is the Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Toray Industries Inc., owns 27 per cent of Teejay Lanka.(Teejay Lanka)

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SriLankan Cargo partners with CargoAi to enhance airfreight booking and payment experience

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SriLankan Cargo, the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines, has partnered with CargoAi, a leader in digital freight solutions, to simplify and enhance the airfreight booking and payment process for users

SriLankan Cargo, the cargo arm of SriLankan Airlines, has partnered with CargoAi, a leader in digital freight solutions, to simplify and enhance its airfreight booking and payment processes, and bring more transparency and velocity for users than ever.

The integration of SriLankan Cargo’s airfreight services into CargoAi’s ecosystem gives users access to online booking and instant cross-border payment capabilities, while allowing SriLankan Cargo to increase its reach and support forwarders that were previously untapped.

CargoAi’s integration with SriLankan Cargo also streamlines payment processes by offering multiple payment methods, ranging from local transfers to credit card payments, removing the reliance on cash payments and enhancing security and efficiency in financial transactions. Additionally, CargoAi’s CargoWALLET platform facilitates the reconciliation process, automating tasks that were previously manual and time-consuming.

For freight forwarders, the integration also means that they no longer need to provide a bank guarantee or pay yearly subscriptions. Everything is seamlessly integrated with CargoMART, simplifying operations and reducing overhead costs, allowing forwarders to focus on core business operations without the burden of administrative complexities.

Chaminda Perera, Head of Cargo of SriLankan Airlines commented by saying, “Our partnership with CargoAi marks another significant stride in our digitalization journey, aimed at expanding our horizons. We will be able to enhance the visibility of our inventory and offer customers a convenient airfreight booking experience. We are looking forward to extending our market reach and engaging with businesses of all scales with CargoAi.”

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Mövenpick Hotel Colombo unveils ‘Space’ wellness brand

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Mövenpick Hotel Colombo proudly introduces ‘Space’, an innovative wellness brand designed to transcend boundaries and cultivate a culture of holistic well-being. The launch of ‘Space’ underscores the hotel’s unwavering commitment to fostering a vibrant and sustainable living experience for all.

‘Space’ represents a transformative leap forward for Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, consolidating its diverse offerings into a singular platform dedicated to holistic wellness. From the rejuvenating embrace of dance therapy to the serene tranquility of outdoor yoga and the invigorating energy of cross-functional fitness, ‘Space’ curates an unparalleled array of experiences tailored to nurture the mind, body, and spirit. Complemented by a thoughtfully curated selection of therapeutic treatments and a culinary journey inspired by the principles of nourishment and balance, ‘Space’ promises to redefine wellness in Colombo.

At its core, ‘Space’ is more than a brand – it’s a philosophy, advocating for the creation of space for oneself and others in the pursuit of a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Through its multifaceted approach to wellness, ‘Space’ invites individuals to reclaim their well-being, fostering a sense of empowerment, connection, and community.

In a bold move towards inclusivity and accessibility, Mövenpick Hotel Colombo has brought together its entire spectrum of wellness offerings under the umbrella of ‘Space’. By consolidating these diverse experiences into one cohesive platform, the hotel seeks to ensure that every individual in the community has the opportunity to access and benefit from the transformative power of wellness. From guests seeking a rejuvenating escape to locals yearning for a sanctuary of self-discovery, ‘Space’ offers a welcoming embrace to all who seek balance and vitality.

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