John Keells Holdings PLC announced the six winners of its second John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge at a Pitch Day recently. These 6 winners would advance to the JKX six month Accelerator Programme. Here, they would gain access to a plethora of JKH resources including seed funding, office space, and access to support services.
These services would include legal, secretarial and finance and also be mentored from the industry’s best and brightest. They would also have access to a curated curriculum and of course, the chance to pitch for and secure further funding for their business idea.
Initially launched in 2016, the goal of John Keells X was to boost creative and intellectual business talent in Sri Lanka. The competition was conceptualized to encourage innovators with imagination and strong design ethics to take the next step in making a pipeline idea a reality.
This year’s challenge has evolved into a fully-fledged accelerator programme that includes an entrepreneurship and growth hacking curriculum delivered by international trainers. In September a workshop on Disciplined Entrepreneurship was spearheaded by Marius Ursache (Teaching Fellow, MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp).
In November, Growth Tribe, Europe’s first growth hacking academy will conduct another training session. The JKH Legal and Secretarial division delivered a workshop on the important legal aspects of running a business.
This was followed by a workshop delivered by the Corporate Finance and Strategy division on valuation of start-ups and tracking of key financial metrics in a business. This intensive course of expert workshops for the 20 shortlisted teams was complemented by sessions known as JKX Meetups, where the teams gained valuable insights and interacted with senior level leaders from JKH.
The panel of judges for this year comprised of Ajit Gunewardene (Deputy Chairman – JKH), Ronnie Peiris (Group Finance Director – JKH), Krishan Balendra (Executive Director – JKH), Gihan Cooray (Executive Director – JKH), Ramesh Shanmuganathan (Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer – JKH), Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya (Regional CEO – Axiata Group South Asia/Non-Executive Director – JKH) and Jonathan Alles (Managing Director/CEO – Hatton National Bank PLC).
The six winners are (in no particular order);
- Direct Pay – Electronic/Mobile payment solution for onsite/online financial transactions
- lk – e-commerce platform dedicated for automotive products and services
- Helios – A peer to peer lending platform leveraging on blockchain technology
- iLoan – Borrower driven online loan aggregator and powering engine
- lk – A simple, efficient and interactive learning platform
- Senzagro – First IoT/Sensor based precision agriculture solution in Sri Lanka
They will have the opportunity to interact with JKH companies and senior level leadership mentors, along with opportunities for further investment during or after the accelerator programme. “I’m looking forward to seeing these teams progress over the next six months,” says JKH Executive Director, Krishan Balendra.