Silicon Valley experts explore Jamaica’s tech entrepreneurial ecosystem

BY RICHARD BROWNE Business Editor browner@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

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Wayne Sutton and Melinda Epler, two entrepreneurial experts from Silicon Valley in California, were in Jamaica on Monday to help boost the island's progress in developing opportinities for entrepreneurs in a series of talks and meetings.




The two succesful entrepreneurs were brought in by the United States embassy to bring their knowledge to the Jamaican entrepreneurial community




In an interview with the Jamaica Observer before their arrival, both looked forward to sharing their knowledge and experience to help develop Jamaica's tech entrepreneurial ecosystem.




Sutton, a serial entrepreneur and general partner at BUILDUP.vc, has more than 14 years experience in technology, design and business development. He was recently recognised as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 most important African-Americans In technology by Business Insider and one of the top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014. Sutton is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to change the world using technology.




One of the key questions for entrepreneurs to ask themselves include: "how much are you willing to sacrifice to see your product come to market," Sutton said.




Epler has more than 20 years of experience elevating brands and developing business innovation strategies for social entrepreneurs, mature social enterprises, Fortune 500 companies and global NGOs. One of her passions is empowering women and minority entrepreneurs. As founder and CEO of Change Catalyst, Epler empowers diverse leaders in social and environmental change -- through events, workshops, and a new online education platform for women social entrepreneurs and angel investors. Epler speaks and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs and investing. Although new to jamaica, she has previously worked in haiti and the Dominican Republic.




She believes that to build a succesful entrepreneurial eco-system one of the keys is not to build a Silicon Valey, but to use technology to solve local problems.




On Monday the two led conversation about ways of building the Jamaican tech entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide global solutions.




Among the participants in the wide-ranging discussion were: Julian Robinson, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining; Kirk Hamilton of The Destination Experience; Marime McIntosh-Robinson, partner at Portland Private Equity; Karen Wilson Edmonds, managing director of Expand Managment Consulting and Yoni Epstein, president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica.




Epler and Sutton were also scheduled to meet with The Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation before leaving yesterday.






















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