The first quarter of 2017 has come in a little slow for the startup scene in Sri Lanka. There’s not a lot of news in the open, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t been happening behind the scenes. Startups are raising funds, working business plans, and testing the market. The business community is lobbying to change policy to develop Sri Lanka for the startup industry and the ecosystem is gradually opening up to the global market.
This month’s startup bundle, however, still has a heavy focus on shopping. If there’s one thing that Sri Lanka never gets tired of, it’s shopping.
Snapcart is a startup that delivers groceries to your doorstep. You open their website, select your city, and then choose one of the supermarkets listed. You then select whatever groceries and items you need from the list available, pay online using your credit card, or select cash on delivery. One of Snapcart’s shoppers will go to the store, buy all the stuff on your list, and deliver it to your door. If anything on the list is not available, they’ll call you for further instructions. You get charged separately for delivery.
Right now, Snapcart serves quite a number of locations instead of just focusing on Colombo, which is nice. They handle requests all the way up to Ja-Ela, Ragama, and Kiribathgoda.
They also deliver groceries from the major supermarket chains like Food City, Laugfs, Keells, Arpico, and even Sathosa.
The concept of having groceries delivered is a simple one, but logistics can be a bit of a nightmare. If Snapcart can execute well, they will have a pretty useful service, though they still have a few website kinks to iron out.
Mogo Super also helps you with your groceries, but instead of having you order from a nearby supermarket, Mogo Super acts as an online supermarket. You sift through the categories of items available on the store and make your order direct. The store stocks anything from canned goods, to medi-care, to t-shirts. Fresh produce does not seem to be available.
The items will be delivered straight to your doorstep for a fee, depending on your location, bill value, and number of products. An order over a certain value gets free delivery.
Mogo Super provides delivery up to a 20 km radius from Colombo city.
Promo.lk gives itself a pretty broad mandate. It basically styles itself as a platform to “promote anything”. For a price, you can post absolutely any promotion on their site for a few days. There are food promotions, software promotions, product discounts, happy hour announcements, bridal events, and concerts. There are even job announcements.
All of this makes for a very confused website. You never know what you are going to find there. While Promo wants to be the largest “online hub” for promotions, it seems to be a bit too extensive for its own good. There is just too much going on to filter through.
TakTik Book is the new ticketing service in town. They’re taking on Ticketslk, which will be a bit of an uphill climb just because Ticketslk has been around for so long, has so much market share, and are exclusive partners for Ceylon Theatres.
TakTik Book are authorised ticketing partners for EAP Theatres, however, which gives them a fighting chance. It also helps that Ticketslk hasn’t updated their website in forever and has an extremely cumbersome interface. TakTik Book has a much easier and more user-friendly booking interface. All they need to do is to squeeze out more market share from events and exhibitions.
Quite a few new startups are still very focused on the e-commerce sector and online supermarkets in particular. It could either mean that there is a very real problem that needs to be solved, or that the barrier to entry is so low that it’s attracting many new startups, for better or for worse. This will probably continue until someone gets the formula exactly right, or until saturation drives most of the startups out of the game.