Sri Lanka a haven for Global Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors says Dr. Cornelius Boersch
Daily FT: European Business Angel of the Year (2009) and a Certified Super Angel by the European Investment Fund (EIF) Dr. Cornelius Boersch, during his first visit to Sri Lanka this year, partook in a private event held on 13 October at Hatch Works in Colombo. The event which welcomed a limited number of guests, and was broadcasted via Facebook Live for local and global audiences.
Conducted in partnership with Hatch Works, Lion ventures, and The Council for Startups, the event featured a conversation-style knowledge sharing session with Dr. Boersch, led by Veracity AI Founder Jeevan Gnanam, and was later joined by Hatch Works Co-Founder Nathan Sivagananathan and BOV Capital Ltd. Managing GP Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, and was concluded with a Q&A session.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Boersch noted: “There is no shortage of knowledge, talent or passion in Sri Lanka. However, the biggest challenge I see here is the conservative mindset and the belief that the Sri Lankan market works differently compared to the rest of the world.
“When I started the largest food delivery company in Europe many people said that this model could not be applied to countries such as India and even Saudi Arabia, but we see that the food delivery companies are the most successful businesses in today’s market. The world has become so similar that ideas that work in London and Berlin can also work in Colombo.
“Sri Lanka has one great advantage (although you may see this as negative), you are five years behind. This means you don’t have to make the same mistakes that others have, you can instead replicate models that have been tried and tested and developed to be successful. There are business models that can be applied to any market, and entrepreneurship doesn’t mean you have to create something new. I see the potential in Sri Lanka.”
Lion Ventures General Partner Love Yadav, the key personality behind the partnership with Dr. Cornelius Boersch, noted: “As early stage investors we look for new opportunities and it is apparent that Sri Lanka is ideal where untapped potential is concerned. After successfully deploying capital for the first round of funding, Lion Ventures is closing in on its second round of funding wherein 60% of its capital will go towards venture build up ideas and the remaining 40% towards promising local start-ups that are easily scalable and globally transportable. I would like to thank the Board of investments and its Chairman Sanjaya Mohottala who has played an integral role in the success of this trip.”
Dr. Boersch spoke passionately about the need for replicating models proven for success in other markets, but adapting them to Sri Lanka’s market. Whilst his focus remains on developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sri Lanka, he also delved into the concept of changing the local mindset, and for serial entrepreneurs to take on the role of investors to help newer entrants.
His three-day business tour of Sri Lanka included discussions with the founders of promising start-ups, The Council of Startups, Port City commission; as well as private meetings with top business houses and a courtesy visit with the Youth and Sports and Development Coordination and Supervision Minister Namal Rajapaksa, where the future of Sri Lanka’s strategic digital revolution was discussed in depth.
Acting in partnership with Lion Ventures – a private investment vehicle formed to make long-term investments through a venture build-up structure focussed on digital transformation and clean technology models – Dr. Boersch aims to fast-track his strategic goal of further developing Sri Lanka’s local market and its entrepreneurial prowess, as he is set to revolutionise Sri Lanka’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Mountain Partners Investment Director Jorge Perez Garcia concluded: “Sri Lanka is at the inflection point of digital disruption as the Sri Lankan start-up ecosystem is ready to bloom. During this short but insightful visit to its capital, Colombo, we have been inspired by the talent of founders and managers alike, as well as by the new measures that the Government will put in place in the coming months to support entrepreneurship.
“We are clear this is a pivotal moment for the country; we have seen it many times in other countries around the World and we see the same starting in Sri Lanka. Together with our local partner, Lion Ventures, we are starting a journey to capture opportunities in the digital space through our Company Builder and Early Stage Fund.
“With them, we plan to nurture and boost the local talent, bring successful disruptive business models to the country and back some of the most promising local teams. We want to invite every family office, investor, manager and entrepreneur to join us in this exciting journey that will boost the country’s long-term economic growth and open the door to a brighter future for new generations to come.”
As the founder of Mountain Partners AG and Conny & Co. AG, Dr. Boersch has been an entrepreneur since 1990 and the founder of ACG AG, a leading company in the RFID market. His global portfolio also includes space logistics and drone technology.
Sri Lanka’s ongoing development programme and the overall economic expansion have helped boost the country’s attraction as an emerging business destination in the South Asian region. This, in turn has increased the interest of foreign businesses/investors to explore the growing business potential in Sri Lanka. The island’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as concessions enjoyed by the country have further added to the increasing opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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