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  • May 13, 2024 2:02 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Peter Dean presents on how to extend your market across borders at Beyond the Beach 2024 in Montego Bay, Jamaica

    In late March, Entrepreneurs Across Borders held our second annual Beyond the Beach conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Attendees included the founders of some of Jamaica’s most promising tech startups;  EAB’s  partners in U.S. tech entrepreneurship and finance; and representatives from leading Carribean nonprofit Food for the Poor, who is partnering with EAB to create a platform to help micro entrepreneurs in Jamaica. The vibe at Beyond the Beach can only be described as electric, with our Jamaican  and American entrepreneurs and partners later telling us that the conference opened their minds in ways they never would have expected. Someone who left Beyond the Beach feeling “changed” was Peter Dean, a serial entrepreneur and business consultant. 

    Currently, Peter leads a team of marketing professionals at RenderTribe, a Saratoga Springs, New York based digital marketing company he founded in 2009. Peter and the RenderTribe team help to define and implement powerful customer acquisition strategies for leading growth stage software companies, with the goal of helping those companies grow to successful exits. Additionally, Peter mentors early-stage startup founders and is a former Entrepreneur in Residence at Siena College. He lectures regularly at Siena College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute about digital marketing and growing software and technology companies. Read on to learn how Peter got involved with Entrepreneurs Across Borders, what he appreciates about Jamaican entrepreneurs, and why you should really attend the next Beyond the Beach.

    Why did you decide to come to Beyond the Beach? Did you have any expectations about the event? 

    As a person who does a lot of mentoring and giving back—it’s like a core value of mine, and this was a great opportunity to do that. To give back, to give forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. And I didn’t really have any expectations of what I was getting into, to be honest with you. I just read about it. [My wife] Cynthia was really excited, we’d never been to the Caribbean and always wanted to and this was a really good reason to do it. 

    What were some of the highlights of your experience at Beyond the Beach? 

    Listening to the entrepreneurs pitch and talk about what they’re doing; listening to all the things that are happening there [in Jamaica]. And to get to talk about the Caribbean Seed Fund— as someone who’s in this business, that was fascinating to hear the differences between funding there and where I’m from, which is the U.S. SaaS funding environment. And slowly, I’ve learned just by listening to conversations—now I’m mentoring three of the companies [from Beyond the Beach]—continuing to learn what the differences are. In some ways they’re simple, and in some ways those simple things are causing big problems. For example, just the way people think about it, like what an investment is. When [Jamaican entrepreneur] Vauyani [Bailey] told me, [Jamaican investors] feel like they’re giving you their hard earned money. And I’ve learned as someone who is an entrepreneur and has had investors—that is not someone you want to invest in your company. That’s like the worst investor you could get, because they’re always like, ‘hey, what’s going on, I’m freaking out,’— clutching to this idea of what you’re doing, when the reality is there is going to be a lot of misses—you need to be able to miss a lot, and you have to have that mentality coming in. The [Jamaican entrepreneur] from Grocery List talked about what she got for an investment [from a Jamaican investor] and how much they took—it’s like Shark Tank. Shark Tank is pretend, it’s not real. Those [Shark Deals] are like the worst possible deals you could ever get. The worst show for someone growing up to [watch] and  think ‘this is how you raise money’—absolutely not the case for the type of companies I’ve worked in. And there’s a reason— you want the entrepreneur motivated, and you can’t get them motivated if you’re taking all the money out. That was really interesting, to me. That fundamentally changes the entire [startup] environment, and how you think and act within that environment—which is scary to a person like me from here. And it’s funny, because when I moved back to Upstate New from the Bay Area I was like whoa, this is a very different environment, and I kind of felt like we were behind the times, like we don’t have enough access to capital. But in reality we are way ahead of anything that’s going on [tech-wise in Jamaica]. 

    What stood out to you in terms of the Jamaican entrepreneurs at Beyond the Beach? 

    A couple things. The energy, how smart they are, what they’re doing—it’s the same things that I see in the entrepreneurs here [in Upstate New York]. But.. the [Jamaican entrepreneurs] environments are different, so after talking to them over the past month, there’s a lot of things we can help them with. Really simple things. In some ways I can have a bigger impact on [Jamaican entrepreneurs] then I feel like I do upstate or U.S.-based people I’ve mentored…It’s really exciting to be part of a [startup] community at that stage, there’s a lot of people who care and to actually be a part of that, it’s really exciting. It’s almost like, going back to Silicon Valley and being there early. And being like, wow, can you imagine what this is going to be like? To be able to be part of that is really interesting, to me. It’s fun. 

    What would you say to entrepreneurs who are on the fence about going to Beyond the Beach? Why should they go to Jamaica? 

    It’s time and effort, not everyone is going to want to do it. But you can have a really big impact—the biggest thing about being a mentor is, I’ve been doing it for a long time—you always get out more than what you put in. Your perception probably is, ‘I’m probably not helping that much.’ But it has a big impact on them. [And], in reality, I always get more for myself. I’m excited, it invigorates me, it gives me hope and faith in the future, with the type of people and the things they’re doing. You get so much more back by giving then you ever would know. [Mentoring] has a huge impact on whatever you’re doing today. Doesn’t matter what it is. If you’re still doing business stuff like I am, it inspires you. I look at their problems like, ‘how would I do that? Maybe I should do it differently.’ 

    Is there anything else you’d like to add about your time in Jamaica? 

    What I didn’t realize—I’d read stuff on the [Entrepreneurs Across Borders] website, but I didn’t realize this distinction between the micro entrepreneur and the scalable entrepreneur. So there’s two distinct parts of [the Beyond the Beach] conference—and just simple help with the micro entrepreneurs really fascinated me. It fascinated me because it’s just simple, [and] simple things  can have a big impact. I think listening to that [presentation about helping micro entrepreneurs] and learning about that and being able to actually do something that has  impact is a huge opportunity for people because everyone is doing what they’re doing for some meaning, and this is another way to take what you’re doing and leverage it for another meaning outside of whatever your personal gain is. In my business we help people, we help scale companies and that’s rewarding when they succeed. But this is a different reward you can get.

  • March 12, 2024 12:56 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    What really sparks economic growth in underserved communities? At Entrepreneurs Across Borders, we believe that it is the power of community. Time and time again, we have seen how working with entrepreneurs from the bottom up, rather than waiting for instructions from  government programs in a top-down model, has created more meaningful impact. Keeping this in mind, we decided to create the Global Impact Network (GIN). The idea behind GIN is to bring together seasoned business leaders who are committed to creating opportunities for entrepreneurs in developing countries in a variety of ways, including through participating in regular events, one-on-one mentorship, trusted referrals and access to our collective network. 

    In December 2023, Entrepreneurs Across Borders held GIN’s first program: our three-day Impact Tour. This event brought 12 seasoned American entrepreneurs to Jamaica, where they met with emerging entrepreneurs as well as established  figures in the country’s tech and finance scene. Participants were able to see and hear firsthand the challenges facing Jamaican entrepreneurs, giving them needed context that helped them understand how they could best be of help. GIN members also learned about how EAB is helping to create a member-managed seed capital fund in the Caribbean. This seed capital fund will be the first of its kind in the region, giving entrepreneurs much needed access to capital. 

    Are you interested in helping to create opportunities for entrepreneurs in developing countries? Would you like to meet other established entrepreneurs who have a “give first” mentality? Find out how you can join our Global Impact Network here. 

  • February 27, 2024 11:40 AM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Are you an established entrepreneur wanting to give back to emerging entrepreneurs, but aren’t sure where to start or how to make it work with your schedule? Consider the Entrepreneurs Across Borders model: we custom create experiences that empower our members to help others. We’ll work with you to determine how you can best use your skills to make an impact, while being mindful of your other obligations. We like to think of Entrepreneurs Across Borders as being time efficient for our members—you can be as involved as much as you want to be. 

    One way to get involved with Entrepreneurs Across Borders is to attend one of our events. In April 2023, we held our first Beyond the Beach conference in Kingston, Jamaica. For this event, we brought our network of established US entrepreneurs and finance professionals together with Jamaican tech leaders and  entrepreneurs for three days of pitches, presentations and optional outings—including an unforgettable, multi-course meal at the Devon House,  home of Jamaica’s first Black millionaire. Beyond the Beach was a smash success, with one of the Jamaican entrepreneurs eventually being accepted into Tech Stars. Then, in December 2023, we held our Impact Tour, where we brought our members around Jamaica,  allowing them to get a feel for the country and decide how they are best able to help. In March 2024, we will be holding Beyond the Beach 2 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We are also in talks with US corporations looking to use their company retreats in the Caribbean as a way to give back. 

    Entrepreneurs Across Borders is not only centered around events. Don’t know when you’ll be able to come to Jamaica, or looking to interact with our entrepreneurs in a more one-on-one way? No problem. Reach out to us about other options to help, like speaking with a Jamaican entrepreneur via Zoom. 

    Ready to learn how you can get involved? Find out how by clicking here.

  • February 13, 2024 12:53 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Everyone has something they can do really well—in other words, a superpower. According to our Executive Director Chris Cochran, people often don’t even know what their superpower is because it comes so naturally to them. Using your superpower to help others—sometimes in  unexpected ways—became a key element of our Entrepreneurs Across Borders Impact Tour.

    Held in early December 2023, our Impact Tour brought a hand-picked group of 12 American entrepreneurs and executives to Jamaica. Participants were introduced to Jamaican entrepreneurs and finance professionals and learned about the special challenges they face. During a breakfast meeting focused on women in tech and investing, a group of Jamaican entrepreneurs identified several government policy shortcomings that complicate starting a business in Jamaica. Tim Hoefer, President and CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy based in New York, shared his experiences with grassroots activation—-in other words, empowering the average citizen to speak out on issues that need more attention. The entrepreneurs were inspired by his words, which led to a discussion on how they might become a “vocal minority” for change in Jamaica. 

    Despite Tim’s distinguished career in leadership that includes starting five nonprofit organizations, he was surprised at how his advice resonated with the Impact Tour participants. He came to the Impact Tour sure that a more “stereotypically” successful entrepreneur, i.e someone who has scaled a company and had an exit, would have more relevant advice to offer Jamaican entrepreneurs. He did not recognize his superpower for inspiring grassroots activation or that it could be just the thing that a group of Jamaican entrepreneurs needed to hear about. As we continue EAB’s journey in 2024, we look forward to helping more people realize their superpower and how it can be used to help others. 

    So, what’s your superpower? How do you think leveraging your superpower could help make a difference in the Caribbean? Find out more here. 

  • January 12, 2024 2:14 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Entrepreneurs Across Borders closed out 2023 another step closer to our goal of helping to launch a member-managed seed capital fund based in Jamaica. In December, our founder Martin Babinec and our Executive Director Chris Cochran met with Nasir Ali, who is something of an expert when it comes to cultivating startup ecosystems. 

    In addition to founding Upstate New York’s first angel investment fund in 2007, Nasir co-founded StartFast Venture Accelerator with Chuck Stormon in 2011. The success of the accelerator led to the creation of StartFast Fund II, which invests in diverse B2B SaaS founders who are located outside major VC hubs. Together with Martin, Nasir co-founded the non-profit Upstate Venture Connect, which supports nearly 700 high-growth businesses in Upstate New York through personalized introductions and hosting invite-only gatherings. 

    Nasir’s experience assisting entrepreneurs outside major tech hubs is perfect for helping EAB and our partnerslaunch the Caribbean Seed Fund in Jamaica, a country where there is a relatively small investor class and many entrepreneurs do not have access to capital. During the December meeting, Nasir discussed the importance of projecting the Caribbean Seed Fund’s expenses as well as perfecting the format for events, which will include pitches as well as time for Q&A with a panel of distinguished finance professionals. Nasir stressed the importance of finding “magnetic” participants for future Caribbean Seed Fund events, similar to the profile of the participants from our first Beyond the Beach conference in April 2023. 

    With 1 million to 1.5 million dollars in assets under management, the Caribbean Seed Fund will be on the smaller side compared to seed capital funds in the United States. Because the middle class in Jamaica is not as large as in a developed country, a smaller portion of the population is able to invest in startups. Consequently, Jamaican investors have to be willing to take big risks on illiquid investments in a country that is not always startup-friendly. Bringing these determined investors together makes it possible for everyone to win. We are excited to see our friends in Jamaica move towards creating a new investor class with the Caribbean Seed Fund.  

    Want to get involved with EAB? Are you interested in attending our events? Find out how here.

  • September 29, 2023 9:52 AM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Meet Khary Sharpe, founder and CEO of HeadOffice. Founded in Jamaica, HeadOffice is a software for accountants and entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean that provides customers with localized support for managing taxes and payroll in non-US denominations. Khary, a veteran of the Caribbean tech scene,  previously founded Bakari Digital as well as serving as the Director of West Indies Software Engineering Company Limited. He has also worked as Startups Program Manager for VM Group in Kingston, among other roles. 

    In April, Khary attended our Beyond the Beach conference in Kingston, Jamaica, where he presented HeadOffice to our  panel of distinguished tech investors. Khary didn’t come to Beyond the Beach with big expectations—he’d mainly wanted to serve as a representation of Jamaican entrepreneurship.  But HeadOffice turned out to be a hit at Beyond the Beach, with something like a bidding war breaking out among our investors for a piece of his company. And this wasn’t even the high point of Khary’s experience at Beyond the Beach. 

    Khary hadn’t initially planned to attend Beyond the Beach’s closing dinner. But he changed his mind, joining us at the historic Devon House in Kingston, the home of Jamaica’s first Black millionaire. He shared a table with Melissa Pegus, who serves as Managing Director for the legendary Techstars accelerator program in both Atlanta and New Orleans. Melissa encouraged Khary to apply for Techstars’ New Orleans cohort. Khary followed through, beating out thousands of other founders to become a member of the 2023 cohort. As a part of the 13-week hybrid program, Khary has attended events like TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, in addition to being awarded $120,000 for HeadOffice. Khary tells us that he has already been able to move HeadOffice forward as a result of his time at Techstars as well as Beyond the Beach. EAB is proud of  Khary’s progress and we are excited to see what’s next for HeadOffice. We will continue to work to leverage our connections so we can help our entrepreneurs take their companies to the next level. 

    Want to help us continue to grow our network and help entrepreneurs? Find out how here.

  • September 21, 2023 1:30 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    Entrepreneurs Across Borders makes things happen. Just ask Jamaican entrepreneur Melissa Powell. This April, Melissa Powell pitched her international hiring business POCMI at our Beyond the Bech conference in Kingston, Jamaica. POCMI’s platform connects people from over 40 countries with companies looking to expand their talent pool, while managing candidate’s relocation and visa processes.  In addition to POCMI receiving interest from our panel of distinguished tech investors, our founder Martin Babinec identified Melissa as the perfect fit for a spot in legendary venture capitalist Tim Draper’s Draper University in the Silicon Valley. We moved fast, securing Melissa a full scholarship to the five-week Hero Training program at Draper University within weeks of Beyond the Beach. 

    Founded in 2012, Draper University is a residential founder fellowship program for pre-seed startups where participants learn to develop their businesses from Silicon Valley founders and experts. Draper alumni have started over 700 companies and raised over $950M from top global investors. The Hero Training program includes five sessions of one-on-one mentoring with worldwide industry experts, mentors and investors who are committed to supporting funders on their entrepreneurial journeys. Speakers at Hero Training have included Tesla’s Elon Musk, The League’s Amanda Bradford and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson. In addition to nuts and bolts startup advice and invaluable opportunities for networking, Hero Training focuses on building the unflappable mindset that is essential for success as an entrepreneur. 

    After six years of battling it out as a founder, Melissa found attending Hero Training to be restorative to her confidence. “I needed [the program],” Melissa told us. “I was just coming out of that burnout season and I needed something that would give me a punch in the face.” Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor, and Melissa was relieved to be in a space with founders from around the world “…who believe that anything is possible but in a very practical way.” Melissa found it reassuring to hear from fellow participants: “who have done it already…it was good to be around that energy for an extended period of time.” 

    For Melissa, one of the standout aspects of Hero Training  was its bare-bones Survival Week. The exact activities of this entrepreneurial boot camp are shrouded in secrecy, but Melissa told us that it “…builds up your resilience even more, it builds you up in terms of working with teams..[Survival Week] just builds you in terms of that mentality of..just keep going, just a little bit more.” Immediately following Survival Week was San Francisco Tech Week, where the Hero trainees attended “event after event” on top of doing “as much networking as possible.” Subsequent days of Hero Training included an all-day leadership training with an associate of one of the world’s best-known personal development professionals as well as an opportunity to pitch to the investment arm of Draper and a three-day hackathon.  

    Melissa’s time at Hero Training was essential in helping her realize the changes she needed to make in her business, including “…[putting] more structure in place to help me get to where I need to be. And a part of that includes revamping what my team looks like…I have also learned to be more prepared.” As a result of what she learned in the program, Melissa is redoing her approach to POCMI’s Global Job Fair week, which was already an anomaly in her industry. “Most companies who are doing international hiring help…are not trying to find you the candidates,” Melissa told us. Instead, international hiring companies “say [to their clients] ‘tell us when you find a candidate and we’ll help you through the process.’” POCMI is also unique among businesses of its kind in that it is geared towards finding candidates with specific skills instead of focused on finding candidates in specific countries. “We’re giving you a tool to use immediately,” Melissa told us regarding what differentiates POCMI from their competition. “So as you’re going back to your office, you aren’t going back to input the [candidate] information in your applicant tracking system, you are working directly with the tracking system with the purpose of hiring someone overseas, you are no longer going to confuse them with your local hires.” 

    EAB is proud of the insights and progress that Melissa made at Hero Training. We are excited to hear about what’s in store for POCMI. We see Melissa’s experience at Beyond the Beach and Draper University as just the beginning of how we plan to help emerging entrepreneurs. Want to learn how to get involved with us? Click here to get started!

  • August 31, 2023 3:11 PM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    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? Find out how here. 

  • August 14, 2023 10:38 AM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    It’s time again for Bring 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. In this installment, we talk to Ingrid Riley, one of the founders of Beyond the Beach. Hailing from Jamaica, Ingrid is a leading figure in the Caribbean tech scene. She is the founder of SiliconCaribe, a media, events, and community building organization that offers a range of resources to support entrepreneurs. SiliconCaribe has produced or participated in over 300 tech events across 10 Caribbean countries, as well as in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. These events include startup pitch competitions, trend forums and panels at SXSW, Black Tech Week, among other conferences and marketplaces. SiliconCaribe’s signature event is Kingston BETA, which is the Caribbean’s first and longest-running tech event series. Kingston BETA includes a startup pitch platform that has featured entrepreneurs from 10 Caribbean countries as well as the United States and the United Kingdom. Kingston BETA has earned corporate endorsements and partnerships and attracted attention from the government as well as international aid agencies, the investor community and the media. SiliconCaribe’s Dow Jones syndicated site is read by entrepreneurs, executives, investors and others in over 90 countries. 

    Why did you decide to partner with EAB to create Beyond the Beach? What was the process of creating the event like?

    Why? Because our values and mission were aligned about supporting Caribbean entrepreneurship, innovation and excellence. SiliconCaribe and EAB are aligned. Also, because of [EAB] Founder Martin being a man who means what he says and does what he says he’s going to do. Integrity, transparency and follow-through are very important to me and deciding who I work with. The process [of creating Beyond the Beach] was great. Martin, Chris and I work well together. I listened and learned a bunch. I poured what I know and who I know into the process and we got it done over many meetings, emails and calls. Everything from the WHY of the event, to selection of speakers, finalizing content programming and location in addition to creating moments like the event-ending dinner at Devon House, the historic site of Jamaica’s first Black millionaire. 

    Did you have any hopes or expectations regarding how you and/or the attendees would experience Beyond the Beach? 

    There was a very clear intention as to what the theme was and who are the kind of people we wanted to attend. After many meetings and conversations, I pitched the name of the event and defined the intention behind the event. For me, it was Beyond the Beach the event that gathers people who are interested in knowing more about and also doing their part in helping to position Jamaica, the Caribbean, as a place where entrepreneurship, innovation and excellence lives— Beyond the Beach.

    What did you actually experience at Beyond the Beach? What (if any) were your biggest takeaways from the event? 

    What I experienced was connection, pride, knowledge and validation. [Additionally, I expected] Connection to fresh and brilliant minds - super successful entrepreneurs and investors with fresh perspectives with a familiar vibe of loving what they do and why they do it. Pride - because it was great to be able to showoff and showcase our tech entrepreneurs and what they are doing and how they are thinking. Knowledge - because I love to learn from people who are smarter than me in areas I am new to. It was a great place to soak all of that up. Validation - I love what I do, and what I’ve achieved in doing these last 16 years in The Caribbean Tech Industry and Ecosystem, wins, losses and lessons and especially hearing Nasir speak about his journey in ecosystem building and investing, how Melissa thinks about the economics of community and Martin thinks about creating big impact. All of what was just beautiful and validating to me.

    My biggest takeaway-even more confirmation that when you get the right people with the right vibe in a room, magic happens every single time. Additionally, some of the people in that room are definitely going to  work together to make some great things happen. And I can’t wait to see how more of that has manifested as a bunch of things has happened since then.

    What was the most unexpected part of the weekend for you? 

    Me crying while making my presentation. LOL. That was not how I had pictured it or rehearsed it, but emotions came flooding in when I saw 16 years of my life’s work, my career on a single slide deck while I was talking about it and the possibilities looking of what’s next with amazing new partners. It was one part holy sh— I did this, one part I am so grateful I get to do this and one part, so glad I didn’t give up and one part my Goodness,I can’t [wait] to see what comes next.

    The other most unexpected part of the weekend [was] the investor “fight” over one of the tech entrepreneurs who pitched. There were like 3 investors making offers and jostling to be the one to close the deal. That was just fun and amazing to witness. It was unexpected, but not surprising if you know what I mean. I handpicked them for a reason - they were working on super interesting startups, they were at different stages of their journey and I knew  they would showcase the range of our innovation culture and also peak the interest of the international investors.

    How do you envision your relationship with EAB going forward?

    [I envision] working closely to make Caribbean Seed Fund fully funded [and] making 10-15 great deals happen for amazing Caribbean tech entrepreneurs and going for a much larger fund after that. Working closely on any other project that’s focused on connecting, educating, inspiring and funding Caribbean Entrepreneurs so they create impact and build wealth for themselves and others.

  • August 09, 2023 11:30 AM | Chris Cochran (Administrator)

    This week on Bringing it Back to Beyond the Beach, a series where we catch up with the organizers, attendees and speakers from our April 28th and 29th conference in Kingston, Jamaica, we talked to Kelz Bethel. Kelz is a Trinidad and Tobago native and serial entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of Recess, an app that works to combat mental health issues in the workplace that have cost the global economy billions of dollars in productivity.  Kelz came to Beyond the Beach to pitch her business as well as to see: “what’s next for the [entrepreneurial] ecosystem in Jamaica..I expected to hear from investors and ecosystem builders who are interested in the growth of the Caribbean tech ecosystem and I got just that.” 

    Kelz described pitching Recess to Beyond the Beach’s panel of tech experts—including Melissa Pegus, Managing Director of Techstars Atlanta—as an “awesome and validating” experience. Although Recess is Kelz’s third startup, the very nature of her business —in which she must convey her passion for the mental health space— necessitates that she “lead with vulnerability and a personal story” when pitching. Kelz found her fellow participants to be a welcoming group, telling us: “being able to share our company’s vision and journey at Beyond the Beach with a group of genuine investors and builders quickly put me at ease.” There was definitely  something special about Beyond the Beach: “The positivity and the passion flowed. This was different than many spaces I have been in. Typically there is more of a disconnected nature to networking events. People are usually focused on pitching and selling themselves more than actually connecting and helping.” 

    Kelz came away from Beyond the Beach with more than an appreciation for having connected with a group of like-minded people. As she told us, she received actionable advice from our panel of experts as well as from the other participants that has “really made a difference” to Recess in the last few months. Specifically, Recess has evolved in how they measure improvements made on their app and how that progress is quantified, packaged and communicated to prospective business customers. 

    Engaging and providing value to entrepreneurs like Kelz is at the heart of EAB, and our work has only just begun. Want to help us? Find out how here. 

    Interested in attending our future events? Sign up for our email newsletter here and stay connected. 

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