StartUp Robot — kicking manual start-up processes to the curb

Nominee #9

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

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CHIEF Executive Officer of technology-based company StartUp Robot Winston Wilkins hopes to revolutionise the process of registering a company in Jamaica.


The 37-year-old has embarked on a programme that streamlines the process of registering a new company as well as facilitating business compliance.


Wilkins, who has been operating StartUp Robot in Jamaica for the past nine months, now plans on expanding his services into the Caribbean markets before tapping into Latin America.


"Research has shown that our market is much larger than what we thought initially," Wilkins told the Jamaica Observer during an exclusive round-table interview yesterday. "We found out that there are 13.8 million businesses between the Caribbean and Latin America still doing paper-based filing like what we have in Jamaica and it is something that we have started building a software to address."


Currently, StartUp Robot assist entrepreneurs with annual returns, incorporation, name reservation, business and partnership services. The idea was conceptualised after he entered an accelerator programme and was approached by angel investor and google engineer JJ Geewax.


"We started out looking at applications for automation and cloud computing, we thought that a lunch delivery service was a good application for that and we pitched the idea. I was approached by an investor who said he liked the presentation but he didn't like the idea," Wilkins told the Business Observer.


At that point, Geewax introduced the young entrepreneur to what he termed as 'a bigger problem' for many international investors looking to register businesses in Jamaica. Wilkins was then provided investment capital of US$10,000 and partnered with five software developers to get the programme off the ground.


"In doing our research, we looked at the current process of registering a business," he said. "The biggest part of that is how long it takes standing in line at the Companies Office and how many times one gets rejected when conducting the registration process. Additionally, approximately 2000 businesses are registered every year."


"It was also in that research that we found out the real value of the market. We found that 53,000 companies in Jamaica are active on the company registry and that 20,000 were inactive and needed to be removed but the process to do so is very tedious. We also saw the potential in other markets," Wilkins added.


StartUp Robot's automated platform allows users to enter the company's information online, after which Wilkins fills out the respective forms, submits it to the Companies Office and corrects any mistakes.


"We achieve efficiency that none of our competitors have by using automation. That allows us to process hundreds of business registrations per day, matching up to 10 times what the Companies Office can do in one day," the CEO stated.


According to Wilkins, his prices -- which start from $7,500 -- has also been a main instrument in attracting over 40 companies since incorporation.


StartUp Robot is operated under StartUp Jamaica, a technology-based accelerator programme which provides key skills and technology, business, management, legal and accounting support to young entrepreneurs.


The programme prepares the start-ups to pitch to equity investors, allowing them to receive investments to grow their businesses.


The University College of the Caribbean graduate was always keen on operating a business. In 2004, Wilkins started a company called TeamWillo Productions, which produced TV commercials, music videos and documentaries, among other media products and services after graduating from the University of Technology. Currently, Wilkins is chairman of the company.


He has teamed with paralegal domain expertise and a law panel to streamline the operations of his new venture. As part of expansion plans, Wilkins is now eyeing the development of a discussion board to allow free access to information on starting a business in Jamaica.


"There is an amnesty going on now at the Companies Office and we would like to be able to process as many of the annual returns online during this amnesty because we know that the Companies Office tend to get crowded during this period and it may become frustrating for persons," Wilkins said.



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