Colombo, Sri Lanka!
I received my primary and secondary education from Mahanama College Colombo 03. I went on to complete my Bachelors in Information Systems & Management from the University of London in 2009. In 2019, I received the Chevening Research, Science, and Innovation Leadership Fellowship (CRISP) hosted by Oxford University.
I enjoy working with entrepreneurs and investors for their ability to transform failures & adversity into energy. Throughout history, some of the most successful entrepreneurs have come from very hard places. This was a common sight for the first 24 years of my life, hence it was natural.
I had long hair and played in a rock band!
Startup ecosystems in general have been going through rapid transformation. I believe they have moved from being centralised & city-focused (for example Silicon Valley) to being decentralised and region-focused (for example Southeast Asia). When first came across Accelerating Asia back in 2018, the focus on Asia caught my attention.
There are some cultural similarities in the region but at the same time, we’re very diverse. The team itself is very diverse and this is visible even within the startup portfolio and investors. This is what excites me the most, diversity is not just another ‘cocktail topic’, but practised and the results are evident.
From 2010 to 2016, my focus was on promoting entrepreneurship and building the startup ecosystem. In 2016, I was part of a team that launched an equity crowdfunding platform. I soon realised that a lot of startups needed help to put their story together. I started working closely with the investor community to understand their thinking and due diligence process.
This helped me to help founders become investor-ready which became our key value proposition. Soon we had investors sending entrepreneurs to us to do due diligence for them. I raised about US$ 700,000 from angel investors from around the world.
This experience led me to join the Lankan Angel Network when they decided to set up a Micro-VC Fund to support early-stage startups. I’ve pitched to over 200 LPs and now find myself on the other side of the table :)
The frontier/emerging markets have focus on vertices such as fintech, agritech, healthtech and edtech. But I see a huge potential for insurtech; in most Asia markets, two to three big players dominate more than 50% of market share and then you find a long-tail. These companies use legacy systems and are efficient. Financial inclusion and financial literacy is another area that I’m excited about.
In most industry vertices, SEA & SA is at the beginning of the value chain. This presents the opportunity to leapfrog, add value and scale.
When I interview founders, the first thing I try to establish is “why is solving THIS problem so important for him/her” Understanding if the founder has understood and committed seven to ten years of his life to solving the problem is key. While the media position entrepreneurs as rockstars, it’s a very lonely and at times, depressing journey. Hence, I look to see if the founders are coachable and if they can move well with people from all walks of life. Everything else (the idea, market, technology) comes afterward. It’s about separating the entrepreneurial spirit from the entrepreneurial stardom.
If you’re interested in partnering with us to deliver startup programs or investing alongside us, meeting our portfolio companies or just generally interested in talking to us about startup investing, connect with Chalinda.
Accelerating Asia invests in startups with scalable technology solutions and revenue generating business models that combine purpose with profit.
In making an investment decision, investors must rely on their own examination of startups and the terms of the investment including the merits and risks involved. Prospective investors should not construe this content as legal, tax, investment, financial or accounting advice.