AN idea for a smart mosquito repellent monitored through a software app has emerged as the winning idea at the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) Greentech Start-up Bootcamp here 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 recently held at the Cave Hill School of Business.
The second prize of US$500 went to Forté Agrosciences which proposed using fish offal to develop a chemical-free liquid fertiliser, while Greentech Agri-business Centre 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) which spoke about the challenges in the sector, which helped the bootcampers develop Greentech business ideas; they were advised by several mentors 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.