Columbus Mentors Tech Entrepreneurs

“Challenge us!  We see ourselves as innovators and we are anxious to demonstrate,” was the declaration by Columbus Business Solutions senior executive Jenson Sylvester to the finalists of the Startup Weekend Jamaica competition at a private gathering on November 7, 2013.

Project Agro, Audio Pi and Popup Shop emerged as the winner and runners up respectively from the technology entrepreneurs competition hosted by ConnectiMass and supported by Columbus.  As part of Columbus’ on going support for the young entrepreneurs, the information, communication and technology (ICT) service provider offered free business consulting and mentorship.

Aisha Robinson, Jeanette Lewis, public relations manager at Columbus Communications, operators of Flow and Columbus Business Solutions, Jermaine Henry, Ingrid Riley, founder of ConnectiMass and Dmitri Dawkins take a peek at the PSOJ 50UnderFifty DVD presented to the young tech entrepreneurs by Columbus Communications as inspiration for pushing forward with their businesses. Robinson, Henry and Dawkins whose teams took the top places in Startup Weekend Jamaica, were hosted at the Columbus Communications office recently to discuss strategies for developing their businesses.
ConnectiMass founder and Caribbean technology expert Ingrid Riley welcomed the involvement of a regional player.  In her address to the three groups of young business aspirants, Riley noted that Columbus has moved “beyond the grin and grip sponsorship to really get involved,” for the benefit of the participants.

Indeed, it was easy for Columbus to get involved.  Sylvester, who was a judge of the Startup Weekend Jamaica competition when it was held in October, noted that he was impressed with all the presentations.  “All the projects,” he noted, “required internet connectivity, hence a natural pairing.”  In fact, Columbus offers the fastest available internet in the region with commercial speeds of up to 100 Mpbs.

Third place finishers, Popup Shop relies most heavily on internet.  The app provides both consumers and merchants with easy accessibility to goods and services in real time at convenient locations.  Runner up Audio Pi is hardware based and seeks to set a new standard for how devices communicate starting with speakers while the winning project, Project Agro leverages RSS and SMS to disburse consolidated orders to small farmers in the field.

As each project outlined their concept, Columbus executives identified services that could boost their productivity, performance and potential profits.  The most notable services included cloud hosting, cloud voice, display advertising and teleconferencing.  Further, leveraging Columbus’ regional network across eight islands in the Caribbean, Columbus executive John Clear noted that the company could provide the traditional networking support as well.

Clear aptly closed out the meeting held in the state of the art conference room of the Columbus Corporate Headquarters echoing the challenge Sylvester laid out.  Clear said, “Put pressure on ICT service providers to be more creative in their service delivery because your growth is our growth.”

Each of the three projects is poised to grow the local tech sector in early 2014.

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