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The Innovators Hosts Mentor Young Entrepreneurs

Published:Friday | August 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Photo Tshani Jaja (left), marketing manager at Jamaica Yellow Pages, chats with hosts of The Innovators, Gary Matalon and Yaneek Page.
Contributed Photo Tshani Jaja (second left), marketing manager at Jamaica Yellow Pages, is joined by young entrepreneurs (from left) Andre Heslop of Social U Consultants, Nastasia Nash of Uniform Apparel, and Toshshena Beckford of Jen's Landscaping. The trio won the mentorship lunch with hosts of The Innovators, Gary Matalon and Yaneek Page.

While Season 5 of The Innovators has come to a close, the business advice and guidance that hosts Yaneek Page and Gary Matalon have to offer have not.

Through show sponsor Jamaica Yellow Pages (Jamaica YP), four lucky winners were able to have a chance to sit down to lunch with the hosts to discuss their business ideas. The winners of the competition were Toshshena Beckford of Jen's Landscaping, Norman Prendergast of Pretty Chicken, Nastasia Nash of Uniform Apparel, and AndrÈ Heslop of Social U Consultants.

Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records was the venue for this innovative lunch, and the young entrepreneurs plied the hosts with questions as they sought to get as much out of the session as possible. While Prendergast was unable to make it, the other entrepreneurs made sure to use that extra time wisely.

With these varying business lines, the entrepreneurs were able to keep Page and Matalon on their toes, and the marketing team from Jamaica Yellow Pages also made a valuable contribution to the discussion, especially in light of one of the businesses being a social media company.

"It was so inspiring to have this mentorship lunch with these young entrepreneurs. Jamaicans are such a creative people, which is why entrepreneurship is such a great avenue for us to develop," said Page. The questions from the entrepreneurs spanned business and personal topics.

hosts' story

But the story that got laughs from everyone was how Matalon and Page became business partners. Matalon first told Page no, but she convinced him that the show would cure his stage fright. Matalon was later forced into the spotlight when his business went public. Five seasons later, the pair, as hosts, are inseparable. Nash raved about the mentorship opportunity.

"It was awesome! It was really interesting, and I learnt a lot of what to do and not do in business. It was an inspirational experience." For her, the biggest takeaway was Matalon's advice to never take no for an answer, no matter what.

The Jamaica YP team also had tips for the young entrepreneurs. They suggested for small business players in a heavily dominated industry, it's important to identify their niche target and what makes their company unique.

The team also warned the entrepreneurs about underestimating the importance of market research, whether formal or informal; and to ensure they understood their target market, and were aware of their needs, how to reach them, and the price they would be willing to pay for the services.