Sri Lanka’s start-up culture is thriving at Hatch. Opened just over a year ago, Hatch’s 7-story colonial building in the heart of Colombo is weaving in a unique culture and a breath of fresh air to the entrepreneurial landscape of the country. A partnership with iAccelerate signed this month and the Good Life Accelerator (GLX) Programme, kicked off in August 2019 are the latest stories of this unique start-up culture nurtured at Hatch.
iAccelerate and Hatch will assist each other’s start-ups with a reciprocal “soft landing pad” program which encourages start-ups seeking to enter regional markets to spend time building their businesses in Colombo or Wollongong.
GLX, housed at Hatch, is the first of its kind international accelerator programme in Sri Lanka designed and initiated by GIZ SME Sector Development Program (on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development). The programme will assist local entrepreneurs with specific focus on areas of food, agriculture, wellness & travel, and green initiatives to go global, fostering economic growth in Sri Lanka. Through GLX, entrepreneurs receive the opportunity to access world class knowledge, expertise, collaboration and investment opportunities as well as funding. The accelerator helps entrepreneurs to take their start-up from early seed-stage to A rounds, connecting them to mentors, buyers and investors. Five weeks into the programme, the seven qualifying start-ups are currently polishing up their pitches in preparation for the big demo day in November.
As part of an exchange programme of GLX, the start-ups will have the opportunity to showcase their products at the GLX pavilion during the Disrupt Asia conference this October to which a group of German experts will also be visiting.
Hatch is supported in their mission by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI), which
provided the atmospheric location and building for the company’s co-working space. The BOI recognized Hatch for its innovative approach to bringing in investment to the country, with Mangala P.B. Yapa, Chairman of Board of Investment saying “This is the future of investment for Sri Lanka. We’re always talking about diversifying our sources of FDI-well, this is how we build our country to be the hub of innovative businesses. We’re glad to have trailblazing companies like Hatch setting an example here.”
“Start-ups and entrepreneurs don’t thrive in the status quo; they excel in an open innovation ecosystem. We’ve created that ecosystem at Hatch through both local and international partnerships, making way for tomorrow’s industry leaders and innovators to collaborate for success,” says Jeevan Gnanam, Co-founder of Hatch.
“This is exciting for us. Hatch is the result of many years of planning, and the success of this space is an excellent indication of how Sri Lanka’s start-up culture is growing. We’re hoping to nurture some great entrepreneurs through accelerator programs like GLX,” Nathan Sivagananathan Co-founder of Hatch added.
Start-ups based at Hatch don’t just benefit from the co-working space culture. They have access to a multitude of opportunities to connect, collaborate and grow. Industry forerunners like PWC, SLASSCOM, Lankan Angel Network, GIZ SME Sector Development Program, Crowdisland and in-house legal services by D.L. & F. De Saram come together to help entrepreneurs take a calculated leap towards future growth.
The Hatch community also benefits from the new collaboration Hatch has initiated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to enrich Sri Lanka’s start-up ecosystem. A delegation from Amazon visited Hatch in June 2019 and addressed 280+ registered participants on AWS Services. Following this event’s success, AWS is working with Hatch, to support Sri Lankan start-ups. This collaboration also provides up to USD 10,000 of free hosting space for Sri Lankan start-ups based at Hatch.
It doesn’t end there for Hatch members. For those ambitious start-up junkies seeking even more, Hatch offers more. It has combined its expansive pools of specialist partners, spaces, and succinct ways of communication to mentor and educate start-ups in their incubation and growth process. Tiered focused programmes for start-ups are geared towards this goal. For example, Hatch Nurture connects founders with a wide range of experts and leaders in their fields, the upcoming Makerspace houses a variety of machines and an international expert to trigger the maker scene in Sri Lanka. Curated events like F’up Fridays where successful industry leaders talk about their failures and learnings, and Smartup for Start-ups, a peer-to-peer problem solving workshop for start-ups, ecosystem builders and students adds on to the entrepreneur journey of the community in and around Hatch. The Legal Clinics hosted by De Sarams are open for start-ups to receive expert advice from in-house hosts on their legal issues. In addition to all this, Hatch is also the ecosystem partner for ‘Disrupt Asia, the premier start-up conference initiated by the ICT Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka.
Hatch amidst all this also strives to be the bridge for corporates to leap into an innovation mind set and is offering corporate partnership and membership opportunities, use of the members’ lounge and the Hatch auditorium. Through this, the idea is to encourage corporates to embrace the easy, open innovation culture fostered by the start-up environment at Hatch. “This is definitely the future of work, so the culture shouldn’t be limited to just start-ups. Hatch is more than just a space and we want to take this same spirit of innovation, collaboration and fresh thinking to the big corporates. The sooner we all embrace it, the better,” say the founders.