This, indeed, is the best time to be an entrepreneur. We say this not because it’s a worldwide phenomenon, but because people can finally dream. In our view, the most important element which we lost to the civil-war was our dreamers. Some left the country, some died and others simply went into survival mode.
Eight years later, the tides have changed. Some have returned and are using their exposure and experience to transform industries. And entire generations of entrepreneurs are rushing to ride the startup riptide. It’s fantastic to see this 21st-century gold-rush, spread like wildfire. Tier-2 cities such as Jaffna & Kandy have also emerged adding more fuel to the fire.
However, when evaluating a startup ecosystem, the trajectory is more important than a snapshot. Most startup ecosystems begin by focusing on ‘More’ of everything. More, startups, hackathons, meet-ups etc. With time, some ecosystems ‘Specialize’ to accelerate growth (e.g. Tel Avi & Singapore). Others look for acceleration via ‘Marketing’ strategies (e.g. Chile & New Zealand).
*Note — check Kauffman Foundation for more info on how to evaluate startup ecosystems.
The Sri Lankan ecosystem seems to have thrown the kitchen-sink thus far. We feel its time for us to transcend to the next phase. But volume alone is insufficient. Especially when you separate startups from small businesses. Instead, we should look at a more of qualitative game.
Running a startup entails a significant learning curve. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can learn in a classroom or through YouTube. The only way to learn is, to launch! Furthermore, the cost (time & money) trial and error are also too significant for the ecosystem to absorb. Hence, the challenge is figuring out a way to reduce the learning curve.
A potential solution can be drawn from the past, from a different ecosystem. The “PayPal Mafia” is credited with inspiring the re-emergence of Internet companies after the dot-com bust. We believe that Sri Lanka is poised for its own Mafia. Yet almost everyone seems to be super psyched to launch their own. But after speaking to 100’s of budding entrepreneurs, we felt we should encourage them to join fast-growing startups. These are some of the key reasons that led us to this conclusion.
- They don’t understand the mental, physical & psychological demand of being an entrepreneur
- Most spend little or no time trying to understand their customer’s problem.
- They build too much too fast with no validation
- Opinion driven rather than being data-driven
- Little understanding of the macroeconomics
- Bad at identifying and attracting talent.
Here are the 3 startups that we feel would fuel the ecosystem in 2018. Our selection is not only based on their growth. We also considered the experience of the founders, investors as well as their ambitions. If you’re passionate about entrepreneurship you might want to consider joining one of these startups. Only time will tell how successful they will become. But we can guarantee that you’ll have the best startup learning experience!
1. Yoho Bed
Status — Funded (2016)
About — A branded network of premium budget hotels. They offer standardized accommodation at competitive rates.
Speed & acceleration — In less than a year, they have reached 20% MoM growth on room bookings. During this short time span, their team has grown from 4 to 50 staff this year. They are looking to breakeven during the first two quarters of 2018, that is a 5.2X growth!
They’re looking for killer Full-Stack Engineers & Property Revenue Managers. You can apply or get more info by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Status — Funded (2017)
About — An online platform which connects Patients to Doctors via online video consultations. They aim to make primary healthcare universally available, affordable, and accessible.
Speed & acceleration — In just 4 months they have reached 5,000+ downloads and 40+ doctors. The app seems to be gaining traction with more than 1,200 positively rated consultations. Furthermore, oDoc won the 2017 Commonwealth Digital Health Award for telemedicine and is selected to the StartX Accelerator based out of Stanford. Heshan Ferenand Co-founder & CEO, told us that their target for 2018 is to reach 500 consultations per day.
They are looking for rockstar software engineers, click here for more info.
Status — Funded (2018)
About — A fun and addictive digital gaming platform based on the game of Cricket. It ties the real-time outcomes of a Cricket match played anywhere in the world to its mobile game.
Speed & acceleration — These guys are still in stealth mode. But with absolutely zero marketing, they have already raked-up over 10,000 downloads with their MVP. The goal is to reach 1,000,000 downloads by the 2019 world-cup. In order to reach this target, they have secured key partnerships that would make Cricrush the ONLY legitimate cricketing app! Oh, not to mention two remarkable brand ambassadors leading the way 😉.
Cricrush is currently on the hunt for a very creative, out of the box UX Designer & Marketing Guru. To apply and for more info email@example.com