Smart mosquito repellent attracts top prize at startup boot-camp
An idea for a smart mosquito repellent monitored through a software app has emerged the winning idea at the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) Greentech Startup Bootcamp in Barbados.
SHU! won the first prize of US$1,000 after a team of Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and Barbados Community College students pitched the idea to a panel of esteemed judges on the final day of the three-day bootcamp held at the Cave Hill School of Business October 14-16.
The second prize of US$500 went to Forté Agrosciences which proposed using fish offal to develop a chemical-free liquid fertilizer, while Greentech Agri-business Center took the third prize of US$250. The other team, Pacific Dream, which pitched vertical aquaponic farming to produce premium fruits and vegetables was also commended.
In announcing the winners, head judge Dr. Jeannine Comma reported that it had been a tough choice for her and fellow judges Dr. Monica Masino and Leighton Waterman because of the high quality of ideas and work presented by the budding entrepreneurs.
“We think this is an excellent project and it was a very difficult decision for us…We really had four winners,” she said, after telling the participants that their projects were “very interesting…and obviously needed in our community.”
The pitches and the announcement of winners was the climax of the bootcamp that was organised by the CCIC’s hub in Barbados, the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (CoESL).
Over the three days, the 21 participants heard from local experts in renewable energy and other green areas in an Idea Generation Session (IGS) who spoke about the challenges in the sector, which helped the bootcampers develop Greentech business ideas; were advised by several mentors who advised them on how to take their businesses forward; and were coached by Kristyna Zapletalova, chief executive officer and founder of MAQTOOB, and Adil Gherib, the company’s co-founder and chief operations officer.
At the end of the intense 54-hour event, the coaches, organisers and mentors agreed that the transformation of the participants – many of whom were students who entered the programme with no previous experience in business – was astounding.
“The first day we invited them to pitch their ideas. Often we couldn’t even understand what their ideas were about and we couldn’t hear them. Over the following two days we coached them in how to speak well, how to present their ideas better, how to build a strong message. We helped them to build their prototypes and their pitch decks…And the progress from day one to the final pitches was really incredible,” explained Zapletalova.
CoESL’s managing director Dr. Marcia Brandon said while she was hoping to get more people coming out to participate in the bootcamp, she was satisfied that the initiative attracted “quality, even though not the quantity”.
She said watching the growth was inspiring.
“I was extremely impressed with their performance,” Dr. Brandon said, stressing that it was not only the final pitches that deserved praise, but the bootcampers’ dedication to the entire process. “They made the effort, they gave up their weekend and they worked long hours and we see the results.”
The bootcamp in Barbados was the fifth the CCIC has held throughout the region. Previous bootcamps were held in Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua and St. Lucia. The next one will take place in Belize from November 11-13, followed by Dominica, November 18-20. Dates are yet to be announced for bootcamps in other CCIC participating countries: The Bahamas, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
CCIC’s project manager Carlinton Burrell said the winners of the bootcamps would move into the CCIC’s six-month Accelerator Programme.
“Each of them will receive US$15,000 to help them develop and grow their idea into the next stage, which is the Incubator Programme,” he explained.
The CCIC, established in 2014, is spearheaded by a consortium which includes the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in Trinidad and Tobago and the Jamaica-based Scientific Research Council (SRC). The initiative is one of the core components of the Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) which is funded by the government of Canada and managed by infoDev, an Initiative of the World Bank Group's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit.
The Caribbean CIC is one of eight CICs established across the world. The others are in Kenya, Ethiopia, India, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana.
Featured photo (top): Team members of the winning business idea, SHU!, with CoESL’s managing director Dr. Marcia Brandon (extreme left) and CCIC’s project manager Carlinton Burrell (second left).