Mar 30, 2018

DIF invests in first round of digital startups

Dialog Axiata has initiated their first phase of investing on digital startups through their Digital Innovation Fund (DIF), which is managed by BOV Capital.

The DIF is Sri Lanka’s first venture fund to focus on digital startups.

Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has selected new media platform, Roar, insurance broker, InsureMe and integrated healthcare platform as its first phase of investments.

DIF marks a definitive shift to foster startups and build further on the business capabilities of digital technology and talent within the country.

The Rs. 2.3 billion Digital Innovation Fund was debuted by the Malaysian Prime Minister in December 2017, and invests in growth stage Sri Lankan digital startups, with investments ranging between Rs. 50 million and Rs. 200 million. 20 percent of the total fund has also been set aside for investments in early stage or seed startups, particularly those looking for investments less than Rs. 40 million.

The Digital Innovation Fund is looking to attract sector-agnostic digital startups that disrupt or transform industries, or create new sectors, in fields such as Big Data, AI, etc. Proposals for funding should include a business plan or investor deck, to be submitted via the Digital Innovation Fund's website at

The initial screening by BOV Capital considers several factors including revenues, user traction and scalability and includes a comprehensive study of the business model. Subsequently, the startups are approved by the Investment Committee of the Digital Innovation Fund, for further evaluation prior to awarding the funding.

Elaborating on the Digital Innovation Fund's selection of Roar, InsureMe and as its first investments, Fariq Cader, Vice President – Digital Services, Dialog Axiata PLC said, “Dialog continues to be at the forefront of innovation in the country’s ICT sector and we are happy to propel currently established or emerging companies in the field of digital based services. Roar, InsureMe and, were selected based on a systematic evaluation process with the intent of furthering the digital services ecosystem in Sri Lanka.”

Signaling the next step for the Digital Innovation Fund, Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-founder, BOV Capital said, "We see a lot of potential for digital startups in the areas of Fin Tech, Health Tech, Edutainment, IoT and Media/Ad Tech. Since Dialog has provided the initial investment, we are focusing on finding and engaging with charismatic entrepreneurs who have a ‘can do’ attitude and those with a well-thought-out business plan, who are ready to go after the next big thing.”