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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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SLT-MOBITEL AkazaLMS enables corporate employee capability development

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As SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT solutions service provider, continues to play a pivotal role in driving Sri Lanka’s digital transformation through its Cloud-managed offering, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS takes centre-stage as the nation’s leading Learning Management System (LMS). SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS offers a unique, locally developed, comprehensive enterprise learning solution designed to cater to diverse training needs without compromising on quality.

Commenting on the initiative Chief Enterprise & Wholesale Officer of SLT, Lakmal Jayasinghe said “Especially in today’s competitive environment where human capital is more important than ever, companies need to create a learning strategy that aligns to robust curricula, employing relevant and available learning methods and technology. Addressing this need, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS Cloud is an enterprise e-learning solution hosted in Sri Lanka on the top of a private cloud, providing corporate and institutional customers the ability to deliver their own learning material to their users with zero cost infrastructure. With greater convenience and without additional IT resources, customers have access to their own training needs via a simple web browser”.

Empowering corporates and educational institutes, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS is a comprehensive locally developed platform, containing a self-portal where the user develops their own e-learning and purchase it as a SaaS product. Especially during these challenging times, when classroom lectures are not possible and distance learning methods vital, the SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS facilitates exams, assignments, quizzes, etc. tailor-made and customised for corporates and educational institutes targeting their own specific needs.

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LIOC shows stability in earnings and margins compared to volatility during previous years

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First Capital expects stability in LIOC earnings and margins ahead, compared to the significant volatility witnessed during the previous years.

“With the new pricing formula, we expect a stable outlook for LIOC which is currently trading at a TTM PER of 7.5x on FY22 earnings while also trading at a PBV of 1.5x”, they said.

“The government’s implementation of the new fuel pricing formula on 24th May 22 includes all costs incurred in importing, unloading, distributing to the stations and taxes. With that, fuel prices will be revised on a monthly basis, and if necessary, it will be reviewed every two weeks. Accordingly, the next price revision was scheduled for 24th Jun 22. Considering the price revision, In addition to that, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has approved a bill to impose a 2.5% tax on companies with an annual turnover of LKR 120.0Mn, which will only have a marginal effect on company margins.”

“With regards to investment in joint venture, LIOC has invested in Trinco Petroleum Terminal (Pvt) Ltd (TPT) in Jan-22 and acquired 49% of the stake with CPC which holds 51% of the ownership of TPT in order to develop 61 tanks at the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm and allied facilities in the Upper Tank Farm of the China Bay Oil Tank Farm. Also, LIOC has entered into a Lease of State Land with the Government of Sri Lanka for a term of fifty years to develop the Lower Tank Farm of the China Bay Oil Tank Farm,” First Capital said.

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Apprenticeship programme in partnership with Hatch MakerStudio and Vocational Training Authority

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From left: : Krishantha Pathiraja, Chairman at Palmyrah Development Board, Florian Manderschied, Head Maker at Hatch MakerStudio, Brindha Selvadurai, CEO and Co- Founder, Hatch, Eranga Basnayake, CEO and Chairman of Vocational Training Authority, Mahesh Ariyarathne, Vice Chairman of VTA

The next generation of Sri Lanka’s industry workforce is currently studying at Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutes (​​TVET) all over the country. Since the manufacturing technology is under permanent development, the requirements for TVET graduates have also evolved. In order to address the industry’s needs for skilled and competent workers, the Vocational Training Authority and Hatch MakerStudio have joined forces to pilot an innovative apprenticeship programme.

The apprenticeship programme is designed for students in the field of mechatronics, robotics, automation and CNC-technologies and is focusing on the upskill, entrepreneurial mindset and problem solving capabilities. Together with industry partners, the selected apprentices will undergo a one month training programme at Hatch MakerStudio before being placed in the companies. The programme comprises of:

Product development training

Software and rapid prototyping training

Problem solving and design thinking exercises

During the course of the apprenticeship, Hatch MakerStudio will provide supervision and support for both the apprentices and companies, in order to ensure effective skills development and utilization of working power. Students with their own specific product ideas and business models can choose Hatch MakerStudio as their place of apprenticeship.

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