May has come to a close, and following a well-attended Google I/O and the start of John Keells X 2.0 registration process, no doubt, young entrepreneurs around Sri Lanka must have their creative juices flowing as they look to build the next big thing.
We have a mixed plate of startups this month; from an online shoe store, a deals comparing site, an upmarket e-commerce store, and finally, a startup looking to assist in relief efforts for major disasters.
Sapattu perhaps lives by the motto “It’s gotta be the shoes”. Their sole focus is on providing fans of all things shoes with a store to buy some of the premium brands. From Nike to Adidas and Air Jordan’s, any local shoe fan navigating their store will feel like they’re in heaven.
The store is like any other store: you select the category of shoe you’re after, and then select the particular brand of shoe. In the product page, you can then view a gallery of images of the shoe and select options such as colour, size, and quantity.
You have the option of adding multiple shoes to your cart, and after you’re done adding your kicks, you proceed to the checkout, and complete your payment using a payment gateway. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
The site isn’t going to wow you with its visual (the Comic Sans feel is rather odd), but it serves its purpose by neatly categorising its shoes, and also offering enough visuals to potential customers to see what they’re buying, especially for moms and dads who may be looking to buy these shoes as gifts.
Moneta is a deals-comparing site that focuses on allowing users to compare across credit and loan deals by asking a few simple questions. While they have been around for a while, they are one of the handful of startups that offer services in the still lowly-represented fintech space.
You start the process by selecting the primary reason for what you will use your credit card or what you need the loan for, and depending on which of these options you select, you will be taken to a page showing results of possible options, along with a secondary set of filters to further fine-tune your requirements.
The pros and cons of keeping a simple set of questions/filters is debatable. On one hand, it could be seen as generic, but on the other hand, it’s quick and easy, as most users don’t have the time to go through 10 pages of questions to find out the best loan deal for them.
There is the option to apply for these cards/loans online and each of these pages provides a detailed explanation of the benefits you will receive. While we couldn’t get to the last stage of actually applying for a card or loan, we did try out the rest of the site, and found it to be comprehensive, well-presented, and they have plans on offering options for insurance, leasing, and investment.
Urban.lk is different from from other e-commerce sites by focusing on offering premium branded products. Brands such as Ck, Beats By Dre, Dior and Apple are among those world renowned brands that you can find on Urban’s online store.
The sites easy to navigate, and you have the option of either searching for a product, viewing the deals of the day, or finding something via a category filter. The process after that is stock standard, as you add the item/s to your cart, and you proceed to the payment process.
Urban.lk’s focus on upmarket brands does allow them to distinguish themselves a bit in an increasingly competitive e-commerce market, but it also means a smaller and potentially more niche audience. They do offer easy payment schemes, thus giving an option for those who cannot purchase these items outright a way of still buying them.
With the devastation caused by the recent floods and landslides in Sri Lanka, Relief Supports has emerged, looking to offer a digital solution to the donation process in relief efforts. Given the multitude of organisations and plethora of phone numbers associated with relief work, it’s easy to lose track of how we can donate and who exactly we are donating to.
By aiming to create an online space for donations, Relief Supports can also provide a much easier route for expats and those overseas who are keen on donating but don’t have the means to. It’s mostly a logbook at present, where you can register your name and details, along with the assistance you’re willing to provide. Currently the site is available only in Sinhala, but there are plans in the pipeline to make the site multilingual.
While still in its infancy, the idea behind it is promising. Relief Supports can hopefully bring a positive change to the haphazard system of providing donations in times of such disasters, so those willing to donate have a digital medium to do it on, without feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there.
The month of May definitely showed us that Sri Lankans are diversifying with their ideas, and looking to bridge the gap in areas that are still floundering behind in this digital age. With John Keells X 2.0 and The University of Moratuwa’s Mora Ventures on the horizon, the startup space is sure starting to look like it’s being accelerated after a quiet couple of months.
Featured image courtesy: securionpay.com