NCU team heads to Silicon Valley for International Business Model Competition
Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has been crowned winner of the National Business Model Competition (NBMC) and will represent Jamaica at the upcoming International Business Model Competition (IBMC) in Silicon Valley, California.
Its the fourth-consecutive year that NCU has walked away winner of the competition since it’s inception in 2013.
The Mandeville-based student-entrepreneur team, Natsima Nutraceuticals, made their winning presentation to a panel of private sector judges in the final round of the national competition last Friday, beating 13 other teams from four universities to also take home $2m in cash prizes along with the all-expense paid trip.
Runners-up were GenesisWay (first) and SOTARE (second), also from NCU; and ShopMobi (third) from the University of the West Indies.
Natsima team members detailed the process of their business model as they presented their all-natural and locally made formula to treat asthma.
Chief Executive Officer Shanea Wint, in describing how the business idea developed said, "I was born with asthma. I suffer from chronic sinusitis. When I was younger, my grandma gave me a liquid made from guinea hen weed, garlic and ginger. I decided to share my idea with my team members and innovate on it because when I would take products on the market, I suffered."
"Each time I took those medications, it seemed like I would get worse. So I said, why not create something for someone who suffers like I do," she continued.
Coincidentally, Wint suffered from a severe asthma attack the night before the finals. And, just before her team and competition coordinator Hazel O’Conner took the decision to take her to hospital, Wint treated herself with the Natsima pump, which stopped the attack.
Natsima also has the backing of the Ministry of Health as they have pledged to help move it’s asthma solution product forward.
"We will be able to conduct clinical testing through them. We’ll be working with other players in the industry, and the ministry will be a major part of that going into market." said Natsima’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technical Officer Lancelot Riley.
This year’s staging of the IBMC will be held on May 11 and 12 at the new and groundbreaking venue of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Teams from scores of universities and business schools across the globe will compete for the grand cash prize of US$30,000 and the prestigious IBMC trophy.
The NBMC, which is now in its fourth year, is organised at the local level by the Development Bank of Jamaica through the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica. Judges from the private sector selected the winner from one of four Jamaican tertiary institutions: Northern Caribbean University, University of Technology Jamaica, The University of the West Indies, and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
Last year’s NBMC winner Guardana Inc, an all-female team from NCU, placed sixth at the international competition at the Microsoft Ventures campus in Washington, DC. In 2015, local team JarGro Enterprise reached the NBMC semi-final stage.
The NBMC was launched at 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 in taking their business models from the idea stage, and facilitates access to mentors, coaches and angel investors to provide the capital to build their businesses.