215 applications for Start-Up Jamaica
Richard Browne, Business Reporter
Some 215 applications have been received by Start-Up Jamaica (SUJ), the government-sponsored accelerator programme for entrepreneurs with mainly technology-based businesses ideas, according to state minister for technology Julian Robinson.
A quarter of the applicants have qualified so far for the next phase of the programme.
"To date, 55 individuals (including six females) have secured a place in the bootcamp and they have been contacted," said Robinson.
But the numbers could end up being slightly larger.
"Some applicants are 'on hold' as the final numbers are being tallied while participants confirm whether they will bring a partner or not," he said. "No more than 60 individuals will be accepted to the bootcamp."
The bootcamp starts on September 8. It will be led by the CEO of Oasis500, Yousef Hamiddadin, and a team of five trainers from Oasis500. That team will be supported by project manager Sandra Glasgow, and a team of Jamaican-based mentors and technical specialists who are currently being recruited, Robinson said.
SUJ is a government initiative, based on the success of Start-Up Chile. It is designed to help entrepreneurs transform business ideas over a period of about four months into effective business plans capable of attracting investment.
The project is supported by the World Bank, with funding from the Development Bank of Jamaica. Oasis500, a Jordan-based company, will provide training and seed investment for the entrepreneurs.
"The bootcamp covers all business aspects, including business modelling, financials, pitching, facilitation and marketing, among others," Robinson said.
"This experience is designed to prepare entrepreneurs for the upcoming stages that they will be facing in order to reach their goals, and create a successful start up from their innovative idea."
The programme has been getting some interest from the Jamaican private sector.
"FirstAngelsJA, Jamaica's first formal angel investor network whose founding members are Joseph M. Matalon, Keith Duncan, JJ Geewax and Sandra Glasgow, have signalled their intention to support Start-Up Jamaica by accommodating pitches from participants in SUJ's accelerator programme for second-round funding," Robinson said.
Robinson said he was "very pleased" with the application stage of the programme, and that many of the ideas were connected to gaming.
They also included educational games and apps designed to market regionally made goods and services, particularly tourism services, he said.
The programme is open to all nationalities, but the majority of applications, 92 per cent, were home-grown. Applications also emanated from nine other countries - Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Dominican Republic, St Kitts-Nevis; St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and United States.