The STEP Pre-Incubation Program, initiated in March 2022 and completed in May 2023, aimed to support budding entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka in their journey from conceptualizing their business ideas to becoming investor-ready and market-live. The program was implemented by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) with the support of key partner Curveup.
The primary objective of the STEP Pre-Incubation Program was to guide budding entrepreneurs toward incubation, acceleration, and seed funding. The program sought to ensure that participants were well-prepared to pitch their ideas with comprehensive knowledge. Additionally, the project aimed to facilitate technology transfer to local entrepreneurs, make them market-ready, and establish a widespread partnership network to support entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey. As well, the project aimed to connect startups with local and international ecosystem enablers, creating a startup alumni network, and supporting startup growth through market access and investment opportunities.
The project's scope included selecting and onboarding 15 startups, conducting deep-dive assessments, defining key performance indicators and milestones for each team, providing legal and regulatory support, and creating customized journey maps for each team. The program also offered coaching and mentoring by industry experts, connected teams with markets and foreign incubations, and maintained a digital dashboard to monitor startup progress.
The key milestones of the project included creating customized development plans for each team, intensive facilitation training leading to business registration, fine-tuning business plans and marketing strategies, offering mentoring support, and facilitating connections with incubations and accelerators.
The project achieved significant success, with several startups being selected for prestigious programs and events, such as Spiralation Demo Day, the Digital Investment Summit, and SHE LOVES Tech. Statistics showed that the project made a substantial impact, with over 50 training sessions, 645+ hours of one-on-one mentoring, and numerous coaches from local and global markets involved.
The outcomes of the project included knowledge and skills development, ecosystem support, contribution to national goals in nurturing startups, and preparing entrepreneurs for investor and accelerator readiness.
The impact of the STEP Pre-Incubation Program was substantial, contributing to the development of a strong early-stage startup ecosystem, fostering startup growth, creating jobs, transferring essential knowledge, facilitating market access, and contributing to long-term business sustainability in Sri Lanka's digital economy.
The project aimed to connect startups with local and international ecosystem enablers, creating a startup alumni network, and supporting startup growth through market access and investment opportunities.
Unfortunately, despite the successful completion of the pilot project, the 2nd cohort of the STEP Pre-Incubation Program could not commence due to budget constraints and a lack of resources.