THE CARIBBEAN – CaribbeanStartups.com launched the region’s first digital accelerator earlier this year and released the final list of companies selected for the summer session.
Of the 105 companies, Darren Butcher and Onicia Muller were the only two entrepreneurs representing St. Maarten, who were selected. Butcher is a Full Stack Software Developer. Muller is a Writer and Comedian.
The inaugural program runs from July 11-13. Divided into two parts, it opens with a 2-day startup development program, followed by a virtual demo day for 10 selected companies. Demo judges include angel investors, global accelerator leaders, and press. Upon completion, teams will have scheduled mentor meetings and pitch practice sessions throughout the summer.
If selected to pitch, Butcher hopes to secure funding for Cator, his education-focused communication. “In schools today, many limitations and gaps in communication exist among faculty that hinders the effective flow of communication,” said Butcher. Cator (http://cator.co) aims to improve faculty communication and collaboration with a messaging tool that provides analytical insights based on collaboration.
“As an entrepreneur and developer groomed in the Canadian startup community, participating in the Caribbean Startups Accelerator program is a great way for me to connect further to my roots. Through this program, I am hoping to learn more about the challenges and opportunities that exist in the Caribbean startup ecosystem. I really believe that technological learning and networking is the key for young entrepreneurs to innovate and shape the Caribbean in the age of digital disruption.” stated Butcher.
Muller is seeking funding to help her independently produce her work in the Caribbean and Chicago. Presently, Muller’s writes about the challenges facing women in comedy and short-format scripts. She also hopes to take her stand-up on the road. Her comedic style is described as sassy, observational, and blunt. Find samples of her work at www.oniciamuller.com.
“The accelerator program is a great initiative. I’m excited to support any project that helps advance Caribbean talents and stories,” said Muller.
CaribbeanStartup.com’s co-founders, Christine Souffrant and Guelma Emile, have Haitian and American heritage. Souffrant is an entrepreneur with seven years of business management experience. She was selected for the 2016 Forbes “30 Under 30” and AdAge “40 Under 40.” Emile founded the Haitian Art shop in the Jamaica Colosseum Mall in1998 and has 25 years of business experience.
The majority of accepted startups came from Trinidad (40), Haiti (18), and Jamaica (13) and founded within the past three years. Requested funding amounts varied greatly as the Digital Accelerator is open to small business owners, startup entrepreneurs, and freelancers who reside in the Caribbean or connected to the Caribbean diaspora.
Forty-five percent are seeking less than US $50,000. The remaining 54% seek sums between US $50,000 and US $20 million. A final list of companies will be able to pitch investors for prize amounts ranging from $5k-$25k in December 2016.