Advice from Jamaican Entrepreneurs

advicefromentrepreneurs

Pioneers. Leaders. Inventors. Innovators. Trendsetters. Risktakers. These are just some of the words used to describe entrepreneurs. When most people hear the word, they immediately conjure up images of a serious person in a business suit, in charge of a large group of similarly clad and countenanced professionals. But entrepreneurship has many faces. In Jamaica, it can be argued that many small shop owners and marketwomen are actually fledgling entrepreneurs … people who have the capacity and willingness to take risks, and develop, organise and manage a business venture in a competitive global marketplace that is constantly evolving in order to make a profit (definition culled from Pinchot University and BusinessDictionary.com). In fact, many persons would argue that small-scale entrepreneurship is crucial aspect of the Jamaican culture and economy.

But what makes an entrepreneur tick? And why do they choose to take the path less travelled? Below are quotes from some of Jamaica’s very own entrepreneurial bright sparks on their journeys as men and women who take ideas from conception to realisation, turning a profit in the process.



jaentkkallen

img-20141031-wa003Name: Keisha Allen
Age: 30
Business Name: House of Clay
Job Title: Creative Director/Fashion Designer (I started the business at age 25 with my husband Kavan Allen, CEO)

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

I believe the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur is perseverance

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

One of the most challenging things we’ve faced while building our business is starting without working capital and the lack of funding to grow. We continue to overcome this by growing one client at time and by utilising tools like social media and client referral to market our business.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

One moment in which we felt immense pride as entrepreneurs – in particular bridalwear designers, is having had the honour of designing and making a western style wedding dress for our bride Padmaghanda’s nuptials in India.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Support, support support! Family have been a tremendous support system and key to the success of our business today.  Just to highlight a few. My parents have always invested in my interests as a little girl. They bought my first set of sewing equipment which I used to start the business and still are a major source of encouragement today. My husband … he’s my partner in crime. He takes care of ‘business’ so I can focus on creating.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

My advice to entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Jamaica is firstly, don’t start a business only to make money. Do what you love, what you are called to, that way when the challenges come you won’t give up easily. Secondly, stay curious. Research everything and educate yourself about what you don’t know. Last but not least, Stay Positive and surround yourself with a good support system. It will come together in time.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

I chose this picture of both of us because we’re a team.

Social media: Instagram: @houseofclayja |  Twitter: @houseofclayja  |  Facebook: www.facebook.com/houseofclayja


jaentcraslynbenjamin

img_59731Name: Craslyn Benjamin

Age: 30

Name of business: Benlar Foods Limited

Your job title: Chief Executive Officer

Age at which you started your business: 27

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Possessing the ability to work hard and maintain a level head. I have learnt that in running a business, for it to be successful, you must work hard to achieve your desired result. Running a business is risky, but one of my mantras in life is, “You can be, do or have ANYTHING you desire; you just have to work hard enough to get it”.

 Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Wow! Doing business in Jamaica is not easy, especially when your business involves farming. One of the hardships I experienced when I just started the business was getting proper access to capital funding. I went to my commercial bank excited about my plans to revolutionise our agriculture sector and my personal banker didn’t even look at my business plan. She literally shut down the idea by telling me it was too risky and furthermore, my account was only one year old and that I had to have an account with them for at least two full years to be even considered for a loan. I was really saddened by the response, but didn’t give up. My business partner and I pooled all the funds we had and invested with high hopes that we would be successful. With all our investment, we took on one big account and from there, were able to grow the business.

img_29751Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

Earlier this year, my project was selected to be part of the Made of More Challenge (MOMEC) – the Branson Centre’s largest annual event to pitch for investment in the business. I didn’t win the competition, but I pitched for US$40,000 and got exactly that. That was a proud moment for me because I have grown so much through the Branson Centre and seeing the result of such growth was amazing …

 How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

To be honest, the only real family support I have ever had is from my Grandpa, Clarence Benjamin. I believe he was sent in this lifetime as an angel of light to protect and care for me. There were times when I reached out to other family members but didn’t get the support that I needed. It was important that I had someone who believed in me. I grew up hearing “no, quit” often from most of my family and people around me, but my grandfather prayed for me a lot and I always wanted to make him proud. My business partner and confidant, Craig Larmond, also plays a critical role in the success of the business. His commitment and support is unquestioned. He believes in the vision and is supportive of my dreams and he inspires me to always be the best version of myself.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

My advice to entrepreneurs is “to do EXACTLY what you love”. The passion for what you really love will always flow naturally and that’s how true success comes.  Also, never be afraid to disrupt an industry to bring your dream to life.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

Earlier this year in Oregon, I met a photographer, Indira Burke, who taught me that looking in the camera sends a message of confidence, and so, in this picture, not only do I look confident, but I feel confident.


jaentjamelliablythe
jamellia-blythe-6250Name: Jamellia Blythe
Age: In early 30s
Name of business: High Flyer Tutoring Service
Your job title: Manager
Age at which you started business: 28

What do you think is the most important trait in a successful entrepreneur?

You have to be passionate and resilient. You have to reinvent, try and find other solutions to things as they arise; because as the boss, the buck stops with you.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Because our model is not recognised by them, and they don’t have a category for us, we are not registered with the Ministry of Education. We need to have a tutor service registry. The MOE must include other models that have to do with mobility, not brick-and-mortar. So our credibility is really based on our reputation and the results we get with our students.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

I had a client who had a very quiet girl child. She attended public school and never spoke in class. She came to me in the evenings. The teacher asked her father to get her assessed, and the father was livid about it. The child that he was describing based on what the teacher said … I got a different child coming to me in the evenings. Clearly, something was different. Then he asked if I could homeschool her. I did for a year, and that father said it was the best thing he had ever done for her, was to move her to homeschool. She got space to ask questions, be herself, had nobody to shut her down. We went outside to learn about roots, for example, and she was comfortable while learning. Having one-on-one gave her the chance to feel appreciated, to not e ridiculed, to ask questions … Her average was in the 50s, and when I was done working with her, she got into Merl Grove High. It proves that individual attention does help.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Support is very important. Not everybody will believe in your ideas – including friends and family, but you do need a support system. Find fellow entrepreneurs, like-minded people. For me, most of my siblings work in public education, marine biology … so at first, they were like, do that part-time. Then they realised that I had the potential and ability to do it.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

You have to have passion. There will be a lot of down times, especially in the initial stage, depending on the industry that they’re in.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

Because the support team was fellow women entrepreneurs. The person who did the makeup was a friend (Latoya Ford from D Empress Makeup Studio). The photographer was female. Too often, in business, women don’t support each other. The men have a boy’s club mentality, so we need to be more unified. It takes a team to build a dream.


jaentangeladefreitas

 defreitas-receives-jagce-award-from-dr-wong-of-asca-and-mrs-nina-dixonName: Angela deFreitas

Name of business: CHOICES Career & Education Advice

Your job title: General Manager

Age at which you started your business: 35

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

A competitive nature

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

I needed a short-term loan as start-up capital. I was able to borrow this at a low interest rate from my credit union in which I had been a member at that time for over 10 years and had built up shares and a reputation as a good borrower. I would have never received such a loan from my bank, so the credit union was very important to my business development.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

Launching our CHOICES career and education programme and its supporting products in the Caribbean.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Building relationships through a network was key – not among family and friends, but among the companies which support our work and also among target groups for our products. Building trust and confidence in the name behind the business and the value of the product was also important.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Go for it! Start as early as you can in developing your idea.  Think it through carefully.  Outline it on paper to make sure it makes sense.  Find a mentor who will guide you.  Do not delay.  It may just be that next big idea which might change the world!

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

The picture says that CHOICES is recognised, not just locally but has global reach also.


jaentjovanevans

innovationaward Name: Jovan Evans

Age: 34

Name of business: AquaFlow Products & Services Ltd.

Your job title: Product Developer

Age at which you started your business: 33

 What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Being resilient: thriving when the situation does not favour you.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Introducing a product to the market that didn’t exist before is a challenging task, as people will not be able to even guess what the product does so easily without a demonstration. This reality was not so clear to me until I was almost broke. I got to the streets offering free delivery, demonstrations, a satisfaction guarantee, and a mobile point-of-sale machine. To do this, I would wake up around 5 a.m. and some evenings coming off the road after 9 p.m.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

My proudest moment would be the day I watched my product, Pump-N-Spray, on an American cable station as part of a news report describing the efforts of a collaboration with a US non-profit to offset the inconveniences of a water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, that left many families with no means of taking a shower. It was solid confirmation that my product was relevant, helped people and that I was not wasting my time.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Surprisingly, family support was not significant pre-launch but eventually that turned around. Institutional and individual connections made a huge difference towards my success. While not all interactions were necessarily impactful, I was determined to make the best out of every opportunity. Let’s just say I have alot of persons to thank, especially my customers, who helped, and continue to help me, improve my product and introduce me to new opportunities.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Go for it. The earlier you start, the better. Your business does not necessarily have to be novel for you to be successful, it merely has to satisfy a need that persons are willing to pay for. You should make an effort to be aware of all of the entrepreneurship-related institutions that are out there and what they have to offer. This will save you time and money.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

This event changed everything. It was the National Innovation Awards ceremony of 2014, held almost two years ago to the day. That day I was recognized with an Innovation Award for my work on the Pump-N-Spray portable shower. It was humbling, inspiring and motivating. At the time, I was not sure which entrepreneurial path to take, but on that day I made a decision to commit my efforts to enhancing the quality of people’s live by improving their access to water. And the rest is history.


Name: Tishauna Mullings

Age: 26

Your job title: Chief Success Officer

Name of Business: NexxStepp Personal Development Services

Age at which started business: 21

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

A successful entrepreneur must be innovative to survive in this age. When the barriers to entry are low, it often correlates with high competition. So a successful entrepreneur must be highly ingenious and flexible as it relates to inventing solutions that keeps them ahead of the game. Additionally, based on the speed of innovation, businesses must possess the ability to think ahead and adjust accordingly to remain relevant because disruptive innovation is a major shifter in the world of entrepreneurship today. Therefore, skills in future forecasting and rapid prototyping is the order of the day for the 21st-century entrepreneur. It is my hope to see Jamaicans championing the global entrepreneurship space in this regard. Innovation also requires confidence, which is a key trait to develop a sustainable business. When you get to the point of confidence, customers trust you and you often start making more money and inspiring others.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Overwhelming influence of naysayers and people who have not yet gotten beyond the fault lines of their own ego-based bases of thinking made it challenging at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. Many I expected to help me make my vision ‘fly’ were still pointing me to dead-end options or giving me all the reasons my business wouldn’t work. Many see even potential as a threat; so what people believe you can attain maybe over the next few years they want to thwart now, and so, they discourage you.  Learning to be committed to your vision and assigning yourself dream builders is the ultimate strategy to succeed in the face of pessimism. I have proven my favorite personal quote right on this journey:

“Fear does not like eye contact: when you face your fear, it loses its grip”. Therefore, I am looking for board members who are with solid years of experience in business and education to provide the stick-to-itiveness I am developing now.

I also struggled with merging altruistic pursuits and making money. The cause of molding an empowered youth citizenry in my region – beginning in my own small corner through literacy, life coaching and skills training – is one that I have believed in strongly since teenage years. I thought making money from a venture that aligned with this cause was impossible, but I was wrong. I have learnt that business is about service to others. Therefore, impact investment to increase literacy and instill positive values and attitudes would be a dream come true for NexxStepp.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

My business started on a positive leg as an entrepreneurial project for a class that was eventually entered in Northern Caribbean University’s inaugural entrepreneurship competition. I had a team of five extraordinarily talented people, including a lecturer and four students. We won that competition and that was validation that the business concept could work. After freelancing a few months after graduating, I started a 9 -5 job working as Agriculture Value Chain administrator on an internationally funded project which was slated to be a two-year project. So I opened a physical door to NexxStepp to build my business with the intention to transition to being a full-time entrepreneur when the project ended. Operations ran with one full-time staff employee, teachers paid by commission, and volunteers from The National Youth Service and high-school volunteers completing community service. After running business for almost three years from this location with over 150 students and clients annually while balancing a 9-5 job (that I still maintained beyond the 2 years as initially planned) where I had gotten a promotion, I decided to take a break from my entrepreneurial venture, recalibrate, build a team and restart bigger and stronger while just taking only private clients. Right there and then came Barack Obama’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative: a welcome next step for NexxStepp. Following hurricane Matthew’s tail, among a team of eight highly ingenious Jamaican entrepreneurs, I ventured on a mission that would shift my perspectives positively and create the record of my life for the most I have ever learnt in a month. From Texas to California to Washington, then to Peru to meet Commander in Chief of the USA President Barack Obama on his very last international business trip, I learnt the nuts and bolts of running an effective business. Selection for this programme was also welcome validation.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Connections are the pieces of the puzzle the makes up my success picture to date. Mentors have been key in driving my personal development and have transformed my way of thinking and served as accountability partners to ensure I stick to my business and personal objectives. The Governor General’s Office of Jamaica has been essential in providing credibility to our programmes. Career writer for the Gleaner introduced me to the Governor General’s programme and this symbiotic relationship has led to the recent official endorsement of the Programme by the Governor General. My life coach Hopelyn Brown, my aunt Valine Williams and my mother Shirley Mullings, who paid my way through college debt-free, are major cornerstones to my success, not to mention the few teachers in school that stood out because they took extra care to ensure I overcame my self-esteem issues and achieved greatness.

Family is key in this journey as they are most familiar with your insecurities and weaknesses. They get to see not just the powerful entrepreneurs in the streets but the tired, burnt-out entrepreneur that comes home after a day of solving problems and serving others. Family serves to refuel an entrepreneur to continue a roller-coaster of taking risks, making money and changing lives.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

There is glory in daring to begin. To be a winner, you have to be in the game. I believe the start is what stops most people. That is why I like Nike’s slogan: “Just do it”. So work on developing your idea, study the industry, make a note of what potential competitors are doing and decide how you will innovate to better serve the needs of real people. Without innovation, there is no reason for a customer to choose you over a competitor. Don’t just be another player in the market that you are heading into: dominate, aim at growth and disruptive innovation. You can be smaller than a competitor and still win because it is not by size that you win or fail; it is when you are exceptional at what you do. Know that it is better to take risks rather than later regret. Entrepreneurship has become a ‘sexy thing but it has to be pursued with great tenacity because it is a lot of work. One has to wake up knowing that if you don’t run your days, they will run you. It is also important to make your commitment stronger than people’s rejection. Follow your passions and know that social good doesn’t have to be separated from making profit.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

The picture shows [Tishauna] after the Town Hall Meeting with President Obama in Lima, Peru. Just as Paul Bogle made that memorable journey from Stony Gut to Spanish Town to represent the hopes and aspirations of St. Thomas; so Tishauna journeyed from Morant Bay to Washington to articulate the voices, dreams and aspirations of Jamaican youth.  In so doing, she further cemented the respectable position that Jamaica holds in the global family of nations.


Name:  Javette Nixon

Age: 32 

Name of business: Point Global Marketing Limited

Your job title: Founder & CEO

Age at which you started your business: 27

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

I think the most important trait of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to remain focused and motivated when others may have given up. In order to build a business, you have to clear many challenges. Your focus and motivation is tested almost daily. And the ability to lift yourself up every day and move forward is extremely important for success.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

I don’t know if this would be called a hardship. However, it’s one of the most challenging things I have encountered in growing Point Global. It’s the challenge of recruiting teammates who have the same passion for working with emerging businesses as I do.  Having the right staff is extremely important to building a sustainable business. I was very frustrated in the early years about attracting teammates with skills and competence that would help to build the business. It took me a while to get to a realization that even more important than qualification, teammates with the right attitude and motivation for being part of the team were the best ones for the journey.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

Point Global is a marketing firm, so our aim is also to work on challenging and cutting edge projects that achieve our clients’ business goals. As such, my moments of pride always are when I see our work making a difference in the client’s business. I am happiest and most full of pride when I see a St. Mary’s Banana chip billboard that we have designed, and when I receive news that CWJCU is need one of the best Credit Union using Facebook. Those moment are the ones when our work at Point Global Marketing proves most effective. That’s what gives me pride.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

My family is a tremendous part of my business story. I started Point Global because I felt that small businesses like my mother’s business could benefit from great marketing and I didn’t see a marketing firm that was set up to meet their needs as emerging and small businesses. As such, my mother is why I started Point. I would have also given up along time ago if it wasn’t the support of my wife and the encouragement of my sister and friends. My first client at Point was from a friend referring his mother to me, and many of our clients over the years have come from friends and family members talking to their business contacts about the work that we have done and continue to do for our clients.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

I would encourage them to really be focused on solving a problem that they are passionate about solving.  I would also encourage them to never give up on what they are passionate about, and to immerse themselves in their business, their industry.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

I chose this picture because one of the things I do on a daily basis is talk to emerging businesses about improving the way they operate, and in particularly refining their marketing strategies. This picture captures me doing precisely that at Digital Housing 2015.


jaentkadeempetgrave

schoolsummitenlisted_kadeemName: Kadeem Pet-Grave
Age: 25
Name of business: Educatours JA
Your job title: CEO & Co-founder
Age at which you started your business: 23

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Persistence.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Convincing a certain group of Jamaican naysayers that gamified tours can solve of the problems we face in Education. With team work, persistence and results, you can’t be upset with naysayers, you should be inspired and motivated by them, prove them wrong.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

On January 28, 2015 – the day we successfully executed our first field trip, a team of six. Give thanks to Talia Soares, Shanice Williams, David Wright, Simier Lansend & Ramon ‘Motza’ Knight. Special thanks to Mrs. Gray Natalie Gray-Reid.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Very important! Friends & family helped to start the company and they are helping to grow it as well. Take note of the names I’m calling in this interview, they’re friends and family. Without my mother, I would have had to quit in year one.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

a. There’s no one formula for entrepreneurial success however mentorship, incubation and networking are tested and proven tools that have worked in the past. Ask Tyrone Wilson from eMedia Interactive.

b. Be prepared to face the naysayers with an open but strong mind, but do so after you have done your research and interacted with your target market. Strength will allow you to hear and dump rubbish whilst oneness will help you to recognise and heed words of wisdom that.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

Why? Because that’s a genuine smile on my face, something that was rare not long ago. This picture says that I’m a Visionary Revolutionary. Didn’t you read the signs? *laughs*


jaentjoanwebley

13391641_10209711387410234_549743384689327234_oName: Joan Elizabeth Webley aka Nanook

Age (optional): 33

Name of business: Nanook Enterprises Ltd. 

Your job title: Attorney/Managing Director

Age at which you started your business: 25

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Vision and perseverence tie equally for me. The former helps you determine what to do and the latter enables you to actually get it done.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

I was repeatedly told to change the name of my business, that it was too hard to pronounce and non-descript. I was convinced, and still am, that the fact it was an unusual name meant I would have room to test different solutions/approaches, thereby giving the catchy name meaning. I knew it would be challenging, but I wouldn’t be boxed in. Reading ‘The Art of Engagement’ by Guy Kawasaki gave me the confidence and some workable tools to pursue that path.

nanook-w-communityDescribe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

I think it was in a supermarket one day, the first time I overheard someone (who wasn’t a friend or family member) speak about how much they loved going to Nanook. They were telling a friend about the creative hub/lounge aspect of what I do, and I was … humbled.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Family, connections and relationships are everything in life – when I was younger I tried to prove that I could do it all myself as it concerned me to never be accused of nepotism. At the Branson Centre, they called it ‘bootstrapping’, and while I feel like I have only just laid the foundation for what Nanook will achieve, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near to this close without the support of my mother, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and the numerous friends and strangers that have volunteered time in the creation of the creative hub/lounge. I’m still not the greatest at asking for and accepting help but it’s a necessary skill!

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Do not be disheartened – wheel and come again!! 🙂 Things are invariably going to take longer, cost more or just in general be “harder” than you anticipated. Try not to take yourself or the issue too seriously. Instead, see setbacks as lessons you can use to do better next time!

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

  1. A graphic piece created by Michael Thompson of Freestyle Arts and the International Reggae Poster competition. He created this based off of a photo of me- I chose it because I think it represents me as someone committed to preserving and promoting indigenous and international culture. He also passed away suddenly this year and I use the photo as a tribute and in respect to him.
  2. This photo represents me and my business to a T. I am in Nanook creative lounge, surrounded by amazing art, next to Dre Island (upcoming Jamaican-Canadian musical phenom), with Ptah (Asst. Managing Director of Nanook/web designer/yogi), Ceci and Reni (volunteer Masters’ graduates from Italy and Bulgaria). Nanook is about connecting and developing worlds through culture!

Name: Latoya West-Blackwood

Age: 33

Name of business: iPublish Consultancy and iMagiNation Books

Your job title: Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Age at which you started your business: 30

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Tenacity, resilience and passion

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

I lost my mother to a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer one year after starting my business. She was diagnosed four months after I registered the business. She was very supportive on my journey to becoming an entrepreneur; it was extremely difficult to balance pursuing my professional goals while coping with the reality that the person who gave me and my dreams life was dying. That experience taught me a lot of things but primarily about the value and fragility of life in general and how to boldly face challenges.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

I would actually say my selection for the YLAI Fellowship is the highlight so far. The application process was very detailed and as I would learn later, very competitive. To be selected as one of the 250 finalists from an original pool of 4,000 across 36 countries spanning Latin America and the Caribbean, is phenomenal. It still felt surreal until we actually got to the opening summit in Dallas, Texas. Becoming an official Branson Centre Caribbean Entrepreneur was also an exceptional moment that resulted in real growth for me and my business.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

As a mother and wife – major responsibilities – family support is very important. My mother played a huge supporting role for me up to the time of her death. My in-laws and immediate family – husband, kids etc – keep me going with their love and encouragement. Entrepreneurship comes with many trials, failures and faith-testing challenges that can easily break your spirit and drive. Maintaining that balance is very important. You also get an ego check often just in case it’s ever needed. 🙂

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Start, that’s the first step. Don’t procrastinate, act on your dreams and develop your abilities. See business as a way of shaping the society and future you desire for yourself and your country, a force for good. Imagine, innovate and live inspired.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

I think it captures me in my ‘natural state’, lol! I love music, travel and celebrate my African heritage. I think this photo captures it all.


The Generation Tap team

Name: Latoya Williams

Name of business: The Generation Tap

Your job title: Founder

Age at which you started your business: 32

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Vision. You have to be able to see things from a unique enough perspective, that often many others are unable to. One has to leverage their gifts, talents and experiences to put a particular product out there that you think could change the marketplace.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

For me, one of the biggest obstacles was just getting the word out there that ‘genealogists’ existed and that they can help all of us. Family history is very personal and everyone should be in the pursuit of theirs. This is an ongoing thing, we have been able to slowly get the word out there. Forums like this truly help the cause!

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur. 

I have experienced this a few times actually. It’s like every new high that you experience fills you with this pride. I felt it earlier this year when I was admitted as an Official Entrepreneur with the Branson Centre Caribbean! I felt it in this last quarter when I was able to hire my first employees.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

My business is built on family connections. My own journey of discovering my family history is what brought me here. I know it is possible to do the same for others because of this. Aside from that, the genealogical community worldwide is such an anchor. You have to be deeply steeped in it and also be constantly seeking association with those that can help your cause.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

I think most of us are meant to be entrepreneurs. This doesn’t mean you can’t be anything else. You should utilise the opportunity to venture into entrepreneurship when you are employed and to pursue it vigorously. There is space here for you. You were born to achieve several great things in this life!

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

So, of course, I can’t choose just one.

For so long, I have been known as the girl in the pink dress. It’s really an iconic photo of us as a newly minted Branson Centre Cohort 10, and I can clearly be seen. I was quite surprised that it’s how people referred to me in the initial stages. Even now, if its seen online or anywhere, they say: “Are you the one in the pink dress?”

This photo is with the three of us, my partner Sheryl and our assistant Saaeda. We truly felt great just being able to say that we are a unit and open for business as The Generation Tap. Its three different generations of women who all love the same thing! That is being able to connect all the families of the world! To this day, it is still one of our cover photos on our website www.thegenerationtap.com and on social media.

I was helping out at a conference recently, and at the end of it, we were taking photos. This one got snapped and I immediately fell in love with it because the tagline #DoBusinessJamaica was just so like my experience. I was and still am navigating  doing just that in Jamaica. It can be hard. This picture fills me with hope. I look forward to a progressive and prosperous Jamaica!


jaenttyronewilson

tyrone-wilson-2016-profile-photo-1Name: Tyrone Wilson

Age: 30

Name of business: eMedia Interactive & iCreate Institute

Your job title: Founder, President & CEO

Age at which you started your business: 21

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

The most important character trait in an entrepreneur, in my opinion, should be determination. An entrepreneur is required to believe even when everyone else is thinking the opposite. It is for that reason why entrepreneurs around the world continue to break barriers and introduce the impossible. As a student of entrepreneurship, I’ve read about some of the greatest entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and one common trait among all of them is determination.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

Hardship is an everyday issue when running a business. As an entrepreneur and one who’s trying to build a business in the creative economy, the hardest thing is to monetise from this field. This field consists of individuals who have been in it for years, who built strong relationships and good reputation. The challenge is that the industry lacks innovation, new thinking and an ability to monetize from that. Finding the right team of individuals who think long term rather than for short term gains is necessary to overcome these hardships.

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

I feel immense pride daily. I’m one to live in the moment of the company’s success. Just being up and running, employing individuals and seeing them come through the door each day with pride and excitement to do their job is worth everything.

 How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

My parents are proud of me, my younger brother also and those make me feel really proud about what I’ve been able to achieve over the years. Connections, family and relationships are all ingredients to success. I wouldn’t be able to build what I’ve built today without family, friends and individuals who I’ve met over the years who decided to come on board and help build this company.

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Believe in yourself even when everyone else is in doubt. Doubt is toxic.

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

A blog was done on me the other day and the writer quoted: ‘Now, eight years on, Mr. Wilson has taken a major step forward. When I met him again recently, sporting dark framed glasses and a beard, he looked more like a teacher – a mentor even. This is the start of something new for him personally, it seems.’ I believe the writer saw it before me. She was right on point because I feel that my company and ambitions are evolving into something more powerful and meaningful.