During this visit, I had the opportunity to meet with 10 start-ups from Sri Lanka. Out of them, 9 had been shortlisted from about 70 companies through a document screening process for a contest that offers a chance to visit Japan and collaborate with Japanese enterprises. I participated in listening to their presentations and evaluating them.
Firstly, what impressed me was the strong sense of patriotism evident in their presentations. Of course, they all want to be successful, but there was a prevalent message about realizing the potential of Sri Lanka and contributing to its growth, which I found admirable.
However, I felt that many are not familiar with making presentation pitches. Rarely did presentations encompass the three key aspects: uniqueness, marketability, and viability. There was a scarcity of pitches that made one think, “Let’s support this!” On the contrary, I felt that if there was a proper support system in place locally, it would be beneficial.
Let me introduce some of the themes presented, as far as I can share:
①’Agritech’, perhaps? A model to evolve agriculture using high technology, making it greener and producing Sri Lankan specialties more efficiently.
②International business expansion of natural honey. Emphasizing the high purity and natural feel of Sri Lankan honey in product development and marketing.
③A plan to globally sell soaps infused with the essence of the Sri Lankan Ayurvedic treatment ‘Ayurveda’, which I introduced in a previous blog. If successful, there’s a vision to integrate Ayurveda with hospitals in the future.
④A proposal for an efficient and effective eco-cycle involving stakeholders in agriculture (from farmers, landlords, wholesalers, logistics providers to buyers).
⑤Utilizing DX and blockchain for environmental improvements, starting with agriculture.
⑥Developing beauty drinks and retort-packed dishes made from agricultural products. Half of the profits will be donated to nature conservation in Sri Lanka.
⑦A learning system for Sri Lankan students to improve their learning levels, allowing individuals to design their curriculum from a young age. It reminded me of Japan’s “Jiyu no Mori School”.
⑧A plan to scientifically produce health foods using Sri Lankan agricultural products.
⑨A proposal for a plant structure aiming for carbon neutrality.
Among the above 9 companies, some are already operational, while others are still at the proposal stage. The top three among them will move on to the next phase. Which do you think made the cut? It’s hard to decide based solely on this information, isn’t it?
Separately, I visited a company that had won last year’s contest and already has ties with Japan. Coincidentally, it’s “Magicbit” that provides AI robotics products for children, related to the 7th business mentioned above. “STEM kits for kids in Coding, Robotics, IoT, and Electronics (magicbit.cc)“. The bright eyes of the young employees were striking. The CEO, who is already tasting success, gave a positive impression with his humility and forward-looking aspirations.