In the world of Sri Lankan tech startups, PickMe has risen to become one of its iconic success stories. Having started off as a ride-hailing app, the company has significantly evolved since to become so much more. Today PickMe will not only send a tuk to your doorstep but also a meal and even groceries. Beyond this, the company has also expanded its logistics arm to better serve businesses. This was marked with PickMe Flash, it’s on-demand delivery service hitting the milestone of 100,000 successful deliveries. Recently, it’s Founder and CEO, Jiffry Zulfer alongside Minister of Youth and Sports, Namal Rajapakse were selected to represent Sri Lanka at one of the largest startup summits in India.
The Prarambh Summit is the largest startup conference organized by the Government of India since the launch of the Startup India initiative. Minister Namal Rajapaksa who attended the summit took to Twitter and hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the brainchild of the Startup Initiative, for unconditional support towards the startup ecosystem in India while continuing to be exemplary to all others. Zulfer shared that the Prarambh summit opened up new thought processes and ideas as some of the best startup innovations were showcased during the multilateral sessions.
Sharing his thoughts on the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem, the CEO of PickMe says, “India has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world. Given our size, we don’t have to play catchup but it is a fact that Sri Lanka’s startup culture needs to take a more serious positioning. It is clear that the Government has recognised this, given all the initiatives taken to ensure digital adaptability. Going forward, this will no doubt create a healthy environment.”
The two-day summit was organized by the Department for Promotion of Industry, Internal Trade, commerce. It was moderated and hosted by Prime Minister Modi on the 16th of January. The event itself is supported by industry bodies such as Invest India, FICCI, Indian Angel Network, IVCA, International Finance Corporation and many more. In a nutshell, the whole purpose of this summit was to transform India into a country for job creators and not job seekers.
Entrepreneurs from India, BIMSTEC countries and around the world, discussed the next wave of startup growth around the world, using the opportunity to pitch their products to a distinctive audience. Hosted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the summit marks the fifth anniversary of ‘Startup India’ which was launched by Prime Minister Modi in 2016.
The two-day summit was the largest conference since the launch of the startup India initiative, with participation from over 25 countries and over 200 global speakers. Panellists from BIMSTEC countries participated in the discussions that followed the inaugural session. Best practice sharing, seminars on information exchange, the multinational incubator network and promotion of social innovation were some focus areas.
Moving forward, if Sri Lanka is to graduate from being a middle-income nation, entrepreneurship is key. In recent times, technology has served as an enabler levelling the playing field greatly. Towards this, as Zulfer highlighted government investment towards digital adaptability will go a long way in building a healthy environment where entrepreneurs can develop world-class products. Given Sri Lanka is known across the world for its tech talent, it’s not an impossible goal.