Entrepreneurs Benefit From Experts
TEN Habitat thrives on leading by example and employs an all-inclusive approach in the process. Recently entrepreneurs who are a part of the TEN Habitat Hybrid Acceleration Programme were provided sage advice, wisdom and guidance from a leading entrepreneur coach and a trade specialist.
San Francisco based Rachel Brooks is a technology entrepreneur and expert in digital product experiences and manufacturing innovation. A self-described maker of the Digital and Physical, Rachel is founder of the ecommerce software company Citizen Made, where she makes it possible for brands and makers to sell their custom products online.
She has been guiding entrepreneurs globally for over 10 years and was recently in Barbados to analyse the status of start-ups under the TEN Habitat umbrella. She is no stranger to the Program’s team as she spoke at the Caribbean Start-Up Summit in April on innovation, refining pitches and the value of validated learning.
Rachel said she was very impressed by the calibre of proficient speakers and resources at the Caribbean Start-Up Summit. “I witnessed lots of great energy and a high willingness to learn and absorb. Participants were super eager and so willing to learn and grow.”
To that end, the entrepreneur aficionado was excited to return to Barbados to examine the stage of projects first revealed at the Caribbean Start-Up. Rachel met with 13 budding entrepreneurs in an intensive two-day workshop to provide tools aimed at identifying their product market niche and to also help with a more objective view of their potential products.
She enthusiastically explained: “This will be a very hands-on approach digging into the beautiful and hard truths behind building
products. I will be pushing the entrepreneurs to seek truth and value while asking difficult questions. It’s start-up therapy.”
Part of the workshop determined where each of the start-ups have reached in the process, they were then split into industry segments and worked in groups to share hopes, fears and next-steps of business. “I’m here to force them to think bigger. I am here to help them make it happen!”
She further added that her focus was to anchor the entrepreneurs’ dreams against what they can realistically achieve. “I am going to fine tune their elevator pitching strategies. I am going to help them make certain key assumptions like who will want what they plan to offer versus who needs what they plan to offer. We will explore variables, challenges, hypotheses and test plans. I am going to create confidence around those assumptions.”
Entrepreneurs also heard an inspiring and informative presentation by Barbadian Lisa Cummins who is a noted trade specialist and Executive Director of UWI Consulting. Lisa has also served as a diplomat and as Executive Director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries.
She advised the entrepreneurs on the importance of familiarising themselves with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and its legal framework. The EPA is a structure to create a free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).
Passionately explaining that the EPA is what will provide access to external markets, specifically in the European Union (EU), Lisa also disclosed that a major area of development for Caribbean entrepreneurs is the creative industries. She highly commended the start-ups which have chosen this direction.
To this end, Lisa also encouraged participants to investigate the world of co- production which generally sees the production of a recording, theatrical work, television program, etc. jointly with another or others.
After the workshop, the consensus from the group was abundant gratitude to TEN Habitat for the work it continues to do to develop and grow entrepreneurship in Barbados. “We would never have reached this stage in our individual development were it not for TEN and its mentors.”
TEN Habitat benefits from the expertise of many global mentors and industry experts through their expansive network. Entrepreneurs also have ready access to the programme’s three in-house mentors: Roger Hennis - Manager, Consulting – Deloitte; Mark Hassell - business development, strategic partnerships and corporate development executive and Selwyn Cambridge - founder and driving force behind TEN Habitat.