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Bringing It Back To Beyond The Beach - Melissa Pegus, Techstars

Chris Cochran

In this installment of Bringing it Back to Beyond the Beach, a series where we catch up with the organizers, attendees and speakers behind our groundbreaking April 28th and 29th conference in Kingston, Jamaica, we talk to Melissa Pegus. Melissa is the Managing Director of Techstars Atlanta and New Orleans, both powered by J.P. Morgan, a startup operator and early-stage investor. She has spent more than a decade scaling startups from the pre-revenue stage through Series C growth, resulting in seven acquisitions. Melissa first learned about Entrepreneurs Across Borders in late 2022 when she spoke on a panel with our founder Martin Babinec at another tech conference in Jamaica. Just a few months later, Melissa was one of the featured speakers at Beyond the Beach, in addition to serving as a panelist for our conference pitch event. 

Melissa came to Beyond the Beach not sure what to expect, other than sensing she was going to be in a space with “…wonderful people who are all generally interested in economic development and entrepreneurship in the Caribbean, specifically in Jamaica.” Besides Melissa’s many years of experience in the startup world, she spent her early career doing economic policy and analysis work in Trinidad, where her grandfather was a successful cocoa farmer. “Whenever he reached a new level of success, he would reinvest in his community,” she said of her grandfather. “So that’s what I thought was really important as an entrepreneur, how you reinvest and give back, and that’s a big part of my professional story.” At Beyond the Beach, Melissa 

found a group of people who were aligned with her intention to spend her time and resources bringing about change she really cared about, calling her fellow participants “a peer group..who are committed to putting intention into action.” 

Melissa was impressed by how: “Everyone [at Beyond the Beach] was clear on the impact they wanted to have.. they said ‘here’s the impact I want to have, here’s what’s working, here’s what’s not working, here’s how I can help and here’s how I want to be helped…’ I always listen for that.” She was able to find a sweet spot at Beyond the Beach, in that she discovered several “great” investment opportunities in addition to feeling aligned with the values and intentions of her fellow participants. Additionally, Melissa found yet another exciting opportunity for investment when she subsequently attended Beyond the Beach co-organizer Ingrid Riley’s  Kingston Beta conference. 

Entrepreneurs Across Borders is thrilled to have found Melissa as an advocate. She shares our belief that having an impact on others is as important as getting great returns from startup investing. “We know that if we do this successfully there are great returns for the entrepreneurs involved, but that’s not the sole goal,” says Melissa.  “One of the goals was around impact and it was really, really nice to see the collaborative spirit in which that really came together.” If you share this ethos, won’t you join us?