The Wedding Wishlist team at the Colombo Hackathon.
A year ago there was no startup scene in Sri Lanka to think of. Now it seems that everybody wants a piece. Personally, I think Sri Lanka is the, ideal testing ground for the Indian market, and Indian investors. A good product can make decent money here, and things are easier to setup and run here. Plus less public urination. Then, if the business model is solid, you can port it to India, and make millions. Of dollars.
This is obviously theoretical. The thing about doing business plans is that you see how sentence like ‘port it to India’ unfold into acres of paperwork and quite probable failure. But the idea is there. We’ll see. A lot of people now want to ‘steal’ the Hackathon idea – incubating startups – which I’m assuming is fine with them also. There should be more startup incubators and I don’t see them as necessarily competitive. At some point, as money comes in, they will be, but at this point it’s just about creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
The first wave you’re seeing is the English speaking foreign educated crowd (most of the people who placed in Hackathon), but the guys on the Etisalat App market are from all over and produce great and locally marketable innovations. Perhaps they can’t necessarily pitch them to investors (though many guys can) but they can put them in the market, and some have prospered. And that’s just one side window that Etisalat has opened (mainly to get money in). If other mobile providers and, ideally, the Central Bank would open a door, I think you’d see innovation rush in.
I’m especially encouraged that people from the diaspora have been getting in touch asking how they can get involved. These are people with money, expertise and hope. Link them up with local devs and I think you have a winning combination. Anyways, that’s just a thought. There are multiple possibilities out there now, and a lot of hope. Happy hacking.