Kenia Mattis - A year of abundance

By JAVENE SKYERS

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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FOR entrepreneur Kenia Mattis, a passion for culture and creativity has not only resulted in changing the local scene when it comes to media production and animation, but also staking her claim as a successful start-up business on the global stage as well.


Mattis, who is the CEO and co-founder of ListenMi Caribbean Limited, recently won the Spark the Fire start-up award at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California, having been chosen initially from a pool of over 5,000 applicants.


"That was the experience of a lifetime. I feel really blessed just to have been in a space with over 700 entrepreneurs, over 150 investors, hosted by none other than President Obama himself in the presence of the CEOs and founders of Facebook, Uber and all of those companies. But we all share so many similarities that I realised I belonged, and the four of us who went from Jamaica — Yaneek Page, Patria-Kaye Aarons, Nicole Crawford-Thompson and I, we share the same sentiment, that it was very good to be in a space where, as small as we are, we belonged on that stage," she expressed.


Mattis was selected as a special delegate and had the opportunity to go a day earlier to participate in a pitching competition, where her pitch video was shortlisted as one of the top 36 projects.


She took home one of only three awards presented at the summit, topping the category of entries for start-up companies.


The Immaculate Conception past student stated that even though her business has been around for roughly three years, it was the last 12 months that has taken her and her team to where they are now.


"On a daily basis we do product development and we also have projects that we’ve done for our clients, so we have clients who we are right now working on animations for, and we’re also now developing our apps. We primarily do apps for ourselves but for other clients we do animations, video production, so I’d say we do media production and content creation for our clients," she outlined.


Two of the focal points when it comes to apps for the entrepreneur are the Greater Cakes project and the League of the Maroons, both of which focus on using interactive illustrations to display stories written for and by children.


"Greater Cakes is based on the premise that kids have a lot to say and they deserve a platform to share it with others," she said.


The project took place over the Easter break where a workshop was created to facilitate over 50 children at the Trench Town Reading Centre, where they were given three weeks of intensive storytelling courses. Their stories were later illustrated and published on an online platform.


"The League of Maroons came about because my co-founder and I wanted something to capture the vibe of our culture. So we decided to create a comic or graphic book novel series around who are Maroon descendants and whose stories included Rolling Calf, Ole Higue and River Mumma," Mattis highlighted.


"They are the different characters our grandparents told us about but we don’t really hear anymore because it’s lost in our culture. The beauty of this project is that it incorporates our traditional culture but in a really new way of telling the story — combining new technology with our folklore."


Both Greater Cakes and the League of Maroons can be found not only on the ListenMi Caribbean website, but in the Android play store.


For Mattis, the future "has got so much more exciting" as she is expanding her team, working on new apps, and using her new partnerships to work on new projects. But getting to where she is now hasn’t been easy.


"Being a start-up in Jamaica; being a creative start-up in Jamaica as a woman, makes life very interesting. I think that we don’t have enough support networks for people like me, but having a support network is critical."


She added that she has found this support in the Women Innovators of the Caribbean group, with a set of persons dedicated to the support of others.


And despite the challenges she has faced getting to where she is now, Mattis remains optimistic and calls 2016 so far her "year of abundance".


"This year has been the year that I’ve been waiting for for a very long time. I asked for it, I prayed that this would be the year of abundance, and I prayed that I would start harvesting the work that we were putting in, and I’m happy now for where the future is taking us."

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