Mon | May 27, 2019

Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, gets innovative with Caribbean ecosystem, technology

Published:Sunday | December 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera
Kirk-Anthony Hamilton (centre) with (from left) Peter Blair Henry, former dean, NYU Stern School of Business; Michael Lee-Chin, chairman of NCB; Ambassador Audrey Marks; and Wes Edens, chairman of New Fortress Energy, at the 2017 staging of the Destination Experience Visionaries Summit.
Kirk Hamilton (right) and Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter.
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Kirk-Anthony Hamilton gets innovative with Caribbean, ecosystem, technology

In May 2015, President Obama invited him to the White House as a part of his Global Entrepreneurship initiative, and Jamaica-born Kirk-Anthony Hamilton was accorded the singular honour of being recognised as one of 75 emerging global entrepreneurs.

Such is the measure of this entrepreneur, investor and experiential designer from Kingston, who aims "to elevate the Caribbean's tech scene on the global stage and help fuel a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the region.

"We are working to spark an entrepreneurship and innovation revolution in the Caribbean. Our goal is to connect the best in the Caribbean with the best in the world, driving a paradigm shift in the economic outlook of the Caribbean," he told Outlook two weeks ago during his Tech Beach Retreat 2018 event at the Iberostar Resort.

"Our summits are designed to serve as catalysts for big ideas, innovation and investment, positioning organisations with the right resources to make their visions happen," said Hamilton, cofounder and curator of Tech Beach Retreat.

"We're taking the message of innovation and technology in Jamaica to the world. Tech is often considered boundless and borderless [and] in order to be successful in this space, we must be collaborative," says the Campion College past student.

Last year, Hamilton and his Tech Beach co-founder, Kyle Maloney, invited Jack Dorsey, founder/CEO of Twitter and Square, as well as Lloyd Carney, former CEO of Brocade (which was sold for US$6 billion a week before the conference), to Jamaica's north coast for his innovative confab.

Dorsey, who was visiting Jamaica for the first time, shared the story of Twitter's growth from a simple idea shared by friends into a massive global enterprise. He spoke passionately about blockchain technology and bitcoin as the tool millennials will use to change the world, and defended Twitter's unbiased stance and refusal to silence any single political voice.

Asked how he was able to top last year's staging this year, Hamilton said, "It was not easy to top Jack, after all, we're talking about one of the top three CEOs in tech and one of the top-10 in general."

Admitting that Dorsey could not be replaced, he still did a great job with Vonage's cofounder, Jeff Pulver, who had the attention of the large audience who sat attentively on the Iberostar Beach.

 

ENHANCING EXPERIENCE

 

"Those who attended the event saw that we are more focused on enhancing the experience for participants and offering hands-on learning experiences. We were also doing more curated matchmaking to ensure value to participants, to ensure people were able to connect with the best resources in the room," he told Outlook.

His aim was to connect regional business, ecosystem, and governments with the shifts happening within the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR). Explaining the idea of the FIR, he noted that this was now the current innovation/tech go-to word.

Hamilton was the only person from the Caribbean in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2016, when the World Economic Forum announced the concept of the FIR.

His approach is simple but effective, connecting with leaders who are successfully navigating the ever-changing economic and social environment, and having them share their success journeys and failures in meaningful conversations with their local and global peers.

Experience, he declares, is the greatest teacher and people love Tech Beach because the information is first-hand and not theoretical.

With three stagings now in Jamaica, Tech Beach has emerged as the dominant force driving conversations on technology and innovation in the region and the world, with many in Silicon Valley associating tech in the Caribbean with Hamilton's event.

The 2018 theme was 'Disruptive Innovation - Exploring the Technological Transformation of Industries'. Focus areas included fin tech, health tech, and consumer tech, with special attention paid to emerging technologies, including digital payments, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, cybersecurity, big data and blockchain technology, and cryptocurrencies.

Some of this year's speakers included Michele Romanow, cofounder of Clearbanc; Jeff Pulver, cofounder of Vonage; and Erin Teague, head of products, virtual reality, at YouTube.

Hamilton's partner, Maloney, shared: "These are some of the areas which we believe are ripe for adoption in our market and they present the opportunity for the Caribbean to ride waves of new innovation. It's very difficult for us to jump on the bandwagon of far advanced technologies, but these emerging areas have massive wealth-creation potential for the region."

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com