John Keells X 4.0 concluded its Demo Day by recognizing innovative startups that could disrupt Sri Lanka’s tech space. As the country’s largest listed conglomerate, John Keells Holdings believes in investing in budding entrepreneurs and empowering them through the JKX Accelerator Program. The winners are to receive an initial round of funding amounting to LKR 30 million (LKR 5 million per startup) and gained induction into the six-month accelerator program. After 6 months of workshops across the Pre-Accelerator period, that covered several topics. The Demo Day showcased the growth and progress of the startups. Here’s a recap of what unfolded at the JKX 4.0 Demo Day.
John Keells X 4.0 – How has this year been different?
“The startups selected for John Keells X were inducted into the accelerator program, giving them the skills, connections, and resources required to build a successful company. With this, each of these startups received an opportunity to lock in a further 50 million in funding to keep their momentum going after the program,” shared the Chairman of the John Keells Group, Krishan Balendra.
JKX 4.0 stands out from its previous renditions by focusing on three unique tracks this year: Accelerate, Innovate, and Elevate. “The program serves as a launchpad for startups and early-stage companies. The three tracks we have chosen for the program this year will focus on a strong curriculum to help these entrepreneurs strategize, execute, and grow for rapid success,” comments Assistant Vice President at John Keells Group and Head of John Keells X, Wishwanth Wijesinha.
The esteemed panel of judges for the JKX 4.0 Demo Day comprised some of the most distinguished personnel from within and outside the John Keells Group:
- Chairman of the John Keells Group, Krishan Balendra,
- Deputy Chairman and Finance Director of the John Keells Group, Gihan Cooray
- CIO/ EVP of the John Keells Group and CEO of John Keells IT, Ramesh Shanmuganathan
- Partner at Mckinsey & Company, Vidhya Ganesan
- Founder, Director, and CEO of WSO2, Sanjiva Weerawarana
- Founder and CEO of PickMe, Jiffry Zulfer
Introducing the six inductees into the JKX 4.0 accelerator
The John Keells X Demo day began with 12 startups presenting their concepts to the panel of judges. Then, after rounds of discussion, the judges faced the daunting task of picking the few who would gain admission to the accelerator program and receive its seed money. The selected few are as follows:
Ezship brings simplified and low-cost shipping solutions to eCommerce platforms. Through the Ezship partnership, merchants will receive an end-to-end courier service that analyzes key delivery parameters and uses economies of scale to select the ideal delivery partner at competitive prices. Furthermore, the system easily integrates into sales platforms to provide merchants with order management, real-time tracking, streamlined cash handling, and payment reconciliation features to give its users the professional shipping experience most local eCommerce sites lack.
Kommon Poll materializes the future of Social Media Marketing with its Sentiment Analysis, Mentions Tracking, and Keyword Comparison tools to help brands track their online perceptions. The tool enables users to observe how people react to the brand, obtain early warning signs of negative sentiment, and assess competitors’ performance to understand their respective markets better. Kommon Poll is available in multiple languages and integrates AI for rapid and easy access to local workflow updates.
The local pioneer of electric smart bicycles is on a mission to enhance the daily commute of several Sri Lankans with a motor, battery, and smartphone. The Rhoda electric bicycle is similar to a conventional bike and operates in two modes: assisted hybrid pedaling and cruise riding. Its battery lasts over a day with minimum servicing and combines four critical pillars of convenient, economical, sustainable, and intelligent technology. What’s more, the modern concept of the Rhoda is bound to turn a few heads on the road as you start riding; while being free of any licensing or registration requirements.
“Let’s go see” the sights of Sri Lanka brought to life with Sri Lanka’s first audio tour guide application. Translated to the Sinhalese word ‘Balamu,’ the app combines the three travel essentials of a guide, a digital map, and a collection of images to present an unmatched tour experience. This collection of features means that independent travellers can explore at their convenience with a comprehensive guide at their fingertips. Balamu currently covers the cities of Colombo, Galle, Kandy, and Ella, with expansions underway to protect additional towns and attractions from around the island.
Shopbook turns small businesses into fully-fledged businesses through its mobile application. This business-essential mobile application digitally manages a business’ cash register book to streamline the bookkeeping process. The application also synchronizes the phone’s directory to bring all customers to a single platform. Moreover, it can automatically generate comprehensive accounting reports at the push of a button, saving its users time and money. Shopbook is available in all three local languages and has been designed to help business owners use technology to their advantage.
Described as “LEGO for technology,” Gavesha is a plug-and-play system that allows kids to build devices without soldering any components and can be programmed with its mobile application. Coding the microchip has never been easier with Bluetooth connectivity and a collection of comprehensive DIY projects available on the application in English and Sinhala for users to learn from.
The road ahead for John Keells X
Reflecting on its progress thus far, John Keells X 4.0 stands as a testament to the co-existence of startups and conglomerates, where both types of entities work together to promote innovation in the country. The senior management of the John Keells Group strongly believes that corporations must support and nurture the growth of startups, evidenced by their commitment and attention toward the success of this accelerator program. As it marches on to its next phase, the John Keells X program remains committed to empowering local entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful companies that’ll grow well beyond the shores of Sri Lanka.