TechBeach Retreat and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) are aiming to ramp up investments in the Caribbean technology industry.
Both organisations have entered into a partnership to provide capacity-building interventions to 20 of the region's most "promising technology companies" with a view to helping them map out opportunities to increase revenue and attract investors. In addition, the initiative aims to the enhance the profile of the firms to that of "high-growth tech companies".
Companies will be hand-picked from the past three cohorts of TBR LAB programme, having met the criteria for participation.
"Our basic requirements are for at least one dedicated founder, a built product and market traction based on revenue generated or capital raised," Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, co-founder of TechBeach Retreat, told Jamaica Observer.
Since January 2021, TechBeach Retreat has collaborated with Canada-based DMZ and the Inter-American Development on TBR Labs, which aims to be the "Caribbean's first pure tech accelerator programme". So far, TBR LAB companies have collectively raised in excess of US$50m, contributing both to economic growth and job creation in the region.
For this reason, Deodat Maharaj, executive director of Caribbean Export, believes the capacity building initiative is timely and augurs well for the region.
"The transformation of the Caribbean can only occur through embracing technology in all aspects of our society. Tech-based businesses have the ability to create a wealth of jobs and opportunities for our people, and this programme provides the participating companies with the tools to scale-up and integrate into the global economy," he said.
The programme will be supported by a Caribbean Export curriculum that focuses on market access and key paths to business expansion into new markets both locally and globally. Moreover, it will provide participants with opportunities for greater exposure within their target markets as well as to connect to vetted investors and global technology companies.
Still, one of the challenges regional technology firms encounter is accessing the venture capital necessary to operate at the global industry standard. Furthermore, there are limited angel investors available in the region to support the proliferation of technology firms regionally, moreover, the conventional financial system considers technology-operated firms as risky venture, thus creating additional difficulty in accessing finance within the industry.
"For this programme, we are doing a few activities including building out deal sheets for the companies to promote them to our network of investors," Hamilton told Caribbean Business Report, adding that participants will receive "expert pitch deck reviews with feedback from venture capitalists from various countries.
"This will help founders better position their pitch for success with investors. We'll also be offering the companies office hours with venture capitalists to prepare the founders to present their companies to investors and corporate executives during our conferences," he added.
Hamilton pointed out that the TechBeach Retreat's partnership with Caribbean Export is an extension of a relationship that began pre-pandemic. However, he said that given the nature of technology companies and their unique needs to scale, the partnership will now take on a new dimension.