Starting a technology-based company in the Caribbean is no small feat. The region has great potential, but remains at a natural competitive disadvantage due to inadequate ecosystems and infrastructures.
In addition, it is estimated that 90 percent of startups fail within the first 5 years of being founded. With this in mind, Tech Beach Retreat has launched a new startup accelerator program called TBR LAB, which is specially tailored to the needs of startups in the Caribbean.
TBR LAB is a Tech Beach Retreat collaboration with IDB LAB and the DMZ, a world-leading tech incubator at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. The program supports Caribbean entrepreneurs by mentoring the world’s leading technology companies, giving companies access to world-class resources and membership benefits of over $ 500,000.
While the application process is still ongoing, we reached out to DMZ Executive Director Abdullah Snobar to share his insight into how Caribbean startups can thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Here are the top five tips he gave for business success.
Build a diverse founding team
If viable growth is your goal, building the right team is important. While startups may not have access to the extensive networks and decades of expertise that more mature companies have, studies have shown that having a diverse team offers more than just financial benefits. According to Snobar, “If your team not only believes in your vision, but also has a wide range of skills and experience, it can only strengthen your company.”
Understand your competition
Success comes to those who innovate, and a strong understanding of your competitors is critical to innovation. “Remember, competition is necessary so that you can expand your ideas and boundaries and think outside the box,” says Snobar. As such, it encourages founders to learn about similar offerings in the marketplace and gain a clear understanding of what these companies are doing and how they are doing it differently. This allows founders to be more strategic about how they position their own offerings.
Live by your unique value proposition
In the business world, your value proposition is an important pillar of success. It helps potential customers quickly understand what you are offering and, more importantly, why they should use your product or service over the competition. Snobar underscores the importance of companies that embody their value proposition from day one. “Try to be very clear about the problem your company solves and how your product or service is helping. Your unique value proposition should be the foundation of all business decisions and act as your North Star, ”he says.
Don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills
Soft skills are often overlooked, but are critical to creating an environment that enables success. Communication, leadership, and time management are all qualities that help build relationships and solve problems. “By developing these skills, entrepreneurs can broaden their ideas and connect with investors, potential partners and customers,” says Snobar. He also emphasized the importance of being able to adapt to change. “Change is inevitable in the startup ecosystem. To be successful, entrepreneurs need to be able to turn. Sticking to what you know is always going to be easier, but to be successful, founders need to accept the idea of change, ”added Snobar.
Use a support system
It takes a village to build a successful business. So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Burnout is often associated with entrepreneurship, but the two don’t have to go hand in hand. Snobar encourages founders to surround themselves with people who can provide both the professional and personal support they need. “Connect with investors and co-entrepreneurs, rely on your family and friends, build a strong ecosystem, and don’t be afraid to get in touch.” He also recommends leveraging the founders’ community networks, attending industry-specific summits and conferences, and various incubator support programs and training programs.
The application process for TBR LAB ends on April 2, 2021. Visit https://techbeach.net/pages/tbr-lab to apply before the deadline.
About TBR LAB: TBR Lab is a solid partnership with IDB Lab, PwC, HubSpot and the DMZ. TBR Lab’s vision is to radically transform the digital landscape of the Caribbean and emerging markets. TBR LAB’s mission is to promote the emergence and diffusion of high-growth technology start-ups and enable business organizations and governments to deploy effective technology-driven solutions.
About the DMZ: The DMZ helps companies expand their business. That means, if founders want an effective and tailor-made technology incubator program, they come to the DMZ. The DMZ is the world’s leading technology incubator at universities and offers founders a launch pad on which they can build and scale quickly. Bigger and bolder than any other program of its kind, the DMZ has been creating the next generation of groundbreaking global companies since 2010. To date, the DMZ has helped more than 400 startups raise over $ 959 million in capital and create 4,000+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, DMZ has a widely recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam and India and over 70 partnerships around the world. Learn more at www.ryerson.ca/dmz