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Bringing It Back to Beyond the Beach 2024 - Peter Dean

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.

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