The spirit of innovative and creative sustainability comes alive at Sri Lanka’s own unique international accelerator programme’s finale event ‘Demo Day’, the entrepreneur development programme designed and implemented by GLX, and initiated by GIZ SME Sector Development Program in Sri Lanka.

The 2020 GLX Demo Day marks the end of its second cohort specially designed to support local high impact initiatives and start-ups with the opportunity to access world class knowledge, intensive training and mentoring, hands-on support and investment opportunities along with funding. The Demo Day sets the stage for the ten founders of cohort 2020 to showcase their products and services and pitch for the opportunity to receive investment and support from partners in Sri Lanka, Germany and other parts of Europe in effectively taking their business towards global markets.

The Demo Day was held virtually in adapting to the new normal and took place on the 2nd of December 2020. Mangala Karunaratne - Founder & CEO - Calcey Technologies and Director at GoodLife X welcoming the cohorts of 2020 stated “Firstly, I like to say congratulations to the 2020 Cohort and good luck with all your pitches today. Secondly great work team GoodLife, the work you have been doing is really important. If you can help build a few more Dilmah type companies in Sri Lanka, I think we can truly say we have begun the transition from a commodity supplier to a value added supplier.”

Each founder, selected on the merits of innovative sustainability of their start-up, was taken through a 12-week business development programme that provided strategic training, planning and international mentoring and hands-on support in the form of student groups from the masters programme at ESCP in Berlin (the GoodLife Accelerator’s implementing partner). The enthused collaboration between these young entrepreneurs and their mentors open the doors to fresh thinking, knowledge and collaborative problem solving.

“It was a great pleasure to have worked with the 10 companies of the 2020 cohort for GLX. Working together to define their strategy and trajectory was a treat. I believe all the founders have a great vision and it was great to be part of their journey and help them realize their goals” said Sanchitha Silva, Programme Manager for the GLX Accelerator.

The event itself was launched successfully via Facebook and YouTube channels. In addition, the event was also streamed across 20 local and international partner platforms providing a wider coverage across multiple arenas. The ten companies who participated in the sustainability driven GLX Accelerator programme is BusSeat, Good Folks, Local Forecast, Mindful Travels, Moonshadow Naturals, Olai, Owita Organics, RAW, Sebastco and Wawamu.

In speaking to the founders upon expressing their views on the programme itself they all drew attention to the immense support received from the four mentors, Jan Ehlers, Martin Kupp, Peter Borchers, and Sebastian Fittko who are professional consultants from ESCP in both Paris and Berlin. ESCP is a state-recognized university that counts among the most prestigious and leading business schools in Germany.

Jan Ehlers - Director Executive Education, Career Development and Company Relations ESCP Berlin opened his speech by stating “After a highly successful launch of the GLX Accelerator 2019 on site in Colombo, I was not sure if this year's 100% virtual round could have the same strong effect on start-ups. I was proven wrong! As all start-ups are in an early stage, it was crucial for the founders to find focus and set priorities. In addition, all founders had to take crucial HR/Leadership decisions where we together reflected on different scenarios for the next steps. Besides the mentoring, I had the impression that the founders benefited most from the regular learning sessions and the clear focus of GLX Accelerator.”

Mentors Peter Borchers and Sebastian Fittko further stated “What fascinated us was the pure energy of the founders and the drive to build something purposeful. All our mentees were driven by purpose with really great products! None of our mentoring sessions we ended on time because of all the ideas and energy in the virtual room! We are looking forward to their future journey and how they are going to impact the lives of people in Sri Lanka further on.”

“One of the key take-aways for me was that in every difficult situation - and the COVID pandemic for sure is a very difficult situation - also lie a lot of opportunities. Overall, I had the feeling that the program came at the exact right time for the projects and the very special situation with online meetings and sessions seemed to even accelerate the learning process” said Martin Kupp

At the conclusion of the lively event GLX Programme Director, Randhula de Silva stated that “GLX is set to solve meaningful problems in Asia through innovative and sustainable approaches in the sectors that needs it most. It is an honor to be facilitating the work of visionary change makers of tomorrow who are set to do nothing but good to our society and economy. The journey has only just begun, miles to go and much more to co-create!”

INSPIRING IMPACT START-UPS – The GLX Accelerator Demo Day 2020