Moratuwa Uni and MIT launch Global Startup Labs

Wednesday, 7 August 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dinukshi Fernando The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Global Startup Labs (GSL) hosted its product launch ceremony together with the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, last Thursday. Since the year 2000, MIT Global Startup Labs has brought teams of business and technical instructors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to over 10 countries, running entrepreneurship programs culminating in the launch of IT start-ups around the world. This is a program that promotes socio-economic development in emerging regions by helping cultivate the next generation of technology entrepreneurs and this launch marked the end of GSL’s third year in Sri Lanka. For a period of seven weeks, the selected undergraduates from the University of Moratuwa were given the opportunity and training to develop a start-up based on mobile or web applications. The students were guided by four MIT instructors, Akanksha Midha, Amber Houghstow, Valerie Young and Dhaval Adjodah. Several workshops and training programs were held. The students also had the opportunity to tour the offices and meet innovative brains behind successful start-ups in the country. After seven weeks of continuous work, 25 student entrepreneurs from the MIT Global Start-up Labs programme launched five innovative IT companies, introducing their products to the market In the opening keynote address, UNP MP and Consultant Economist Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the aim of MIT Global Start-ups is to create teen entrepreneurs from the brightest students of Sri Lanka. De Silva advised the young entrepreneurs how to succeed as honest and ethical entrepreneurs in the modern day world in the unethical field of information technology. “It is seldom that we find words like honesty, ethical and integrity in the top ten list of how to become a successful entrepreneur. Even though society believes that entrepreneurs cannot succeed without being dishonest he strongly advised the young entrepreneurs present at the event to make ethical practices a priority in furthering their businesses,” the UNP MP said. De Silva also stated that in order to win in the world of entrepreneurship one needs to be ethical, honest and it is then that one can be sustainable and earn a long term benefit. Quoting Martin Scharf he also added that “trust is more important than dollars and cents” and further urged the entrepreneurs to adapt ethical and honest practices. He also wished the budding entrepreneurs success in their current and future endeavours. The five teams of young entrepreneurs from the University of Moratuwa then presented their products, and were judged by a panel of nine judges who, after each presentation posed several questions to the groups of entrepreneurs.  The winning teams were, in first place, HawkEYE, with their application YouthJobs, a platform to match job seekers with job providers specifically tailored for the Sri Lankan IT/BPO industry. HawkEYE was also selected for the Etisalat Social Impact award. Team BeeHex Technologies won second place with renting and hiring platform ‘ClicknPick.’ Their initial focus in the product is to provide local tutors to the Western Province in Sri Lanka. Team WhiteRAY was placed third while they also won the Mobitel Audience Choice Award and the Dialog Technological Award. Their product/application ‘CarelessDroid’ enables android smart phone users to relocate their phones in the event of misplacing it. Furthermore, all five groups spoke about their revenues, projected income and how they would develop their businesses and products within the next three years and improvements that will be made to the existing products/websites. This event was followed by a reception where the audience and the judges were allowed to witness demonstrations by the five groups with regard to their start-ups. To end the program, SLASSCOM Co-founder Madu Ratnayake spoke about the future of MIT GSL in Sri Lanka. He stated that MIT Global Start-up Labs are in the process of becoming a yearlong national program, supported primarily by SLASSCOM and Brandix.  The first phase of next year’s program is set to take place in September this year.  This event was a success in encouraging the youth of the country to engage in ethical entrepreneurship activities while exploring their abilities and opportunities in the technologically advancing modern world.  – Pix by Lasantha Kumara