FOUNDERS of TechBeach Retreat Kirk-Anthony Hamilton and Kyle Maloney are confident that the return of the conference to the shores of Jamaica will drive the organisation's mission of accelerating digital transformation in the Caribbean and driving investment and partnership in the region's technology sector.
"We've done well to leverage the strength of global technology brands and people including our diaspora to be drivers of our community, provide education and partnership. We're seeing more and more companies in the region leverage these same relationships," Hamilton said.
"We believe, within the next three to five years, we're going to see a number of companies go public or expand into a number of new markets with technology as the driver," he continued.
But this can only happen if there is an ecosystem to support that growth.
In this regard, Hamilton pointed that having been a staple event on the business calendar between 2017 and 2019, the conference is known to connect players in the technology industry in a single space where education and productivity are at the centre of conversations. Moreover, TechBeach Retreat provides tech start-ups who operate in silos with access to a global network of entrepreneurs, investors, experts, and partners.
"People in the region need access to global networks that can truly help them catalyse their visions. TechBeach is a major access point for people to find capital, networks, jobs, partnerships, education and mentorship. We're a bridge connecting our regional ecosystem to a number of global tech communities," he explained further.
Slated for December 8–10, 2022 at Iberostar Resort in Rose Hall, St James, TechBeach Retreat will make a return to the Jamaica after a three-year hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
During that time, however, the organisation continued to provide technology and entrepreneurial education to several start-ups from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Barbados, and The Bahamas through its accelerator programme, TBR Labs. A joint programme with IDB Lab — the innovation arm of the Inter-American Development Bank — and Toronto Metropolitan University-based The DMZ, TBR Labs has supported some 100 companies over 200 entrepreneurs since its inception in 2021.
"These companies have raised over $50 million in funding. Many of these promising founders will be participating in the upcoming event," Hamilton shared.
Just last month, TechBeach Retreat had its first in-person gathering since 2019 at The Confidante Miami Beach in Florida, where a number of start-ups from the Caribbean had the opportunity to cross paths and interact with tech executives, angel investors and venture capitalists from across the region, Latin American and North America.
Even so, Hamilton highlighted that while the Miami Beach edition of TechBeach Retreat was "founder-focused", the Jamaican event remains the organisation's flagship and offers a more diverse content focused on emerging global trends.
"This year we're evolving and breaking up the event into forums focused on start-ups, fintech, content creation, government and corporates. In each forum we'll offer a learning curriculum alongside the content we deliver on the big stage," the co-founder stated.
What's more, participants can expect a line-up of regional and global speakers offering industry insights in an all-inclusive campus-styled environment that's both relaxing and productive.
TechBeach Retreat has become the technology ecosystem hub of the Caribbean given its history of generating investments, facilitating partnerships and developing talent. Through its platform, companies like WiPay, Caribshopper, Edufocal and MDLink have secured significant funding amounting to millions in US dollars.
"We set out on a mission to add visibility to our ecosystem and arm our tech start-ups with play books for success. Now we're seeing numerous companies take on the confidence to build their companies and products and establish their space," Hamilton said."
"We are in the early stages of the emergence of real tech companies in the Caribbean while they raise noticeable rounds of financing, capture great customers and most importantly, build amazing products. For our part, we've introduced and helped guide their interactions with investors, partners, customers and well positioned mentors in their industry," Hamilton concluded.