Caribbean BETA 2012: the business of the Internet

ICT/tech businesses are frequently considered risky ventures, for which the entrepreneur or business owner receives little support. Caribbean BETA 2012, which will be held on 16 November in Jamaica, will be highlighting identified demands or deficiencies in key sectors, and the resulting business opportunities in the Internet space. have all heard it before, and by now take it for granted, life, as we know it – both personal and professional – has irrevocably changed thanks to the Internet. While many among us are working valiantly to build businesses or deliver services that use technology, the extent to which they are successful is often hit or miss.

Although tech businesses fail for many reasons, but one of the major ones, which is frequently realised well after considerable time and money have been invested, is that the concept might not have been viable in the first place. Caribbean BETA 2012, the annual tech entrepreneurship conference that is now in its second year, will be offering some insight into some potentially lucrative tech opportunities that could be harnessed, particularly in the Caribbean.

Focused around the theme “The business of the Internet – mobile, social, consumer driven“, the one-day conference will again be held in Kingston, Jamaica, on Friday, 16 November, at the Knutsford Court Hotel. It will feature a number of talks exploring business opportunities in four areas that are especially relevant in the region: government; mobile; Creative Industries; and entrepreneur support. Teams have also been invited to pitch their business ideas for the chance to win mentoring, financial and technical support towards launching a viable business.

What and where are the opportunities in Government?

In individual countries across the Caribbean, governments are typically the largest employer and the largest procurer of goods and services. However, they are continually being challenged to, among other things: streamline processes; become more efficient, effective and innovative; foster engagement, and to be more user-friendly for all stakeholders.

The panel discussion, “When technology meets a Government”, will highlight ways in which technology can be used to help governments solve many of the problems they are facing, e.g.:

  • What opportunities does the public sector offer?
  • What are the priority areas for tech intervention?
  • How best to harness those opportunities?

What and where are the opportunities in Mobile? proliferation of mobile/cellular phones across the Caribbean (and worldwide), provides a unique and opportunity to interface with virtually every citizen within a particular country, or even in the region. The panel discussion, “Mobile – a phenomenal Caribbean opportunity”, will be answering questions, such as:

  • How can we better harness the platform?
  • What are some of the opportunities we are not exploiting?
  • How can a viable, or even profitable, business using the mobile/cellular platform be realised?

What and where are the opportunities in the Creative Industries?

Increasingly, many countries in the region are using cultural events and activities to attract investment and revenue, but little attention has been given to using technology in the Creative Industries and the Internet to drive wealth creation. keynote speaker for Caribbean BETA 2012 is Mike Johns, the Chief Executive Officer of Digital Mind State, based in Los Angeles, California. Although he might not be well known within the Caribbean, Mike is widely respected internationally for helping global brands marry hip-hop culture and wireless (especially mobile/cellular) technology. Mike’s talk will be on, “Reggae Music 2.0: How will it succeed in the Digital Age of Music, Brand, Culture”, will focus on the business of reggae music, and how this genre can fulfil its potential in this digital age.

Later in the morning, there will also be a panel discussion, “When technology meets the Creative Industries”, with persons representing the music, film, animation, and publishing industries.  The panel will be examining how technology is being used in the Creative Industries and within their respective fields, and highlighting trends and business opportunities that marry the arts and technology.

How and where can you get the support to build your business?

One of the challenges frequently highlighted by Caribbean entrepreneurs and business owners, particularly in the tech space, is the limited avenues for financing in the region. However, as was noted in one of our posts, 6 reasons why Caribbean tech start-ups cannot access funding, there are variety of reasons entrepreneurs or businesses are unable to access what little is available. In the last panel discussion of the day on “Funding entrepreneurship and innovation”, a broad range of expertise, including entrepreneurs, incubator managers and investors, have been assembled to discuss how to find, fund and nurture the next big Caribbean Tech Entrepreneur.

The Caribbean BETA PitchFest

Finally, and similar to last year, the Caribbean BETA PitchFest will be the highlight of the event.  The PitchFest will give budding and established entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch a new business idea or an existing prototype that uses the Internet, mobile or social media platforms.  As at posting, 13 teams have committed, and the deadline for registration is Monday 12, November.

Unlike last year where the prizes were primarily cash and mobile/cellular devices, through the PitchFest, Caribbean BETA is focussed on facilitating tech entrepreneurship success stories. Hence, in addition to bragging rights, this year’s winners will receive some of the support they will need to realise viable businesses, such as:

  • connections to Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists
  • coveted spots in tech/business accelerator
  • development support.

For those who will be in Kingston on 16 November and are interested in attending Caribbean BETA 2012, the event website has the requisite details, and up to the minute developments can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

ICT Pulse will also be Caribbean BETA 2012, so please feel free to drop by and say hi.


Image credits: Caribbean BETA,  LascooCaribbean BETA.