Student entrepreneurs compete to defend Ja's IBMC Global Championship

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Fifteen teams of student entrepreneurs at the tertiary level will this week be competing for cash prizes of up to $4 million and an all-expense paid trip to defend Jamaica's 2018 global championship at the upcoming International Business Model Competition (IBMC).

This year's international staging will be held on May 9-10 at the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, United States. Teams from numerous universities and business schools across the globe will vie for the grand cash prize of US$40,000 and the prestigious IBMC trophy, now housed at its current home at Northern Caribbean University's (NCU) Morris Centre of Entrepreneurship.

“We're hoping to win this year's national competition and send another one of our teams to represent the country and take home the IBMC trophy yet again,” said Hazel Wright-O'Conner, NCU's programme coordinator who trains the university's teams entering the national competition.

The National Business Model Competition, to be held on March 21 and 22 at Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, is organised at the local level by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) through its Jamaica Venture Capital Programme and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.

“The national competition falls under the Entrepreneurial Development component of a technical cooperation agreement between the DBJ and the IDB Lab, and is aimed at creating a sustained and robust entrepreneurial and early-stage ecosystem for Jamaica as it nurtures creativity and critical thinking among students at our local universities' business schools,” DBJ Managing Director Milverton Reynolds explained.

Judges from the private sector will select the winner from one of four Jamaican universities — NCU; University of Technology, Jamaica; The University of the West Indies (UWI); and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Financial support this year comes from sponsors IDB Lab, PanJam Investment, NCB Foundation, GK Capital Management, Sagicor Bank, Scotiabank Jamaica, Musson Foundation, Burger King and PetroCaribe Development Fund.

Jamaican universities performed exceptionally well at the 2018 IBMC as Beasc Technologies from NCU won first place bragging rights, the Global Champion trophy and US$30,000. Eco-Structures, representing the UWI, was awarded second place, receiving a cash prize of US$20,000; and Queritel, a third team from Jamaica, placed in the top 10 out of 42 universities worldwide, after a total of five teams from Jamaica's National Business Model Competition competed on the global stage.

“It was a feat never before accomplished. We were overjoyed as in just our fifth year of entering this world-class event we won first and second places,” said Douglas Lindo, national coach of the National Business Model Competition.

Business modelling, geared at reducing the failure rate of start-up businesses, differs from a static business plan and focuses on assessing customer interactions then pivoting and changing course based on the lessons learned. The national competition was conceived at the DBJ's first Venture Capital Conference held in September 2013 by keynote speaker, Paul Ahlstrom of Alta Ventures Group, Utah, USA, who along with Joseph Matalon offered to fund the prize for the winner if local universities collaborated.

The competition was designed to facilitate young entrepreneurs who are in need of mentors, coaches and angel investors to provide the capital to build their businesses, while aiding in taking their business ideas through to operationalisation.

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