Picture Perfect Tours takes top honours in Rocket Pitch
Business Buzz is a monthly column presented by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. Every month, read about entrepreneurship, obtain business management tips, and find out what's going on in the small business sector.
Bermuda joined more than 140 countries around the world to collectively celebrate entrepreneurship from November 18-24. Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a week dedicated to inspiring, connecting, engaging and mentoring entrepreneurs. During GEW aspiring entrepreneurs participate in activities that encourage creativity and innovation, finding solutions to some of the worlds challenges.
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Department of Ecommerce and the Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative of Bermuda (YEI) and the GEW Advisory Committee, coordinated 14 events to get Bermudians inspired, connected, and engaged.
GEW Bermuda 2013 launched on November 6 at Nineteen under the patronage of the Deputy Premier Michael Dunkley and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy Minister, who were both present to give words of encouragement to those participating in the week long activities geared to foster entrepreneurship. At the launch of GEW, the first activity included the presentation of awards to the winners of the 2013 YEI BizCamp. This week-long camp run over the summer allows students to learn about the many aspects of running a company by assisting with the development of their own business idea. Prizes went to the following participants: Third place to Rheina Webb-Hollis and Micha Baker. Second place was won by Renisha Trott, Chelsea Ray, and Britney Bannister. The top prizes provided by CellOne were taken home by Hannah Guntl and Justin Fullerton.
On Monday, November 18, the first day of GEW started with the BEDC hosted the Sixth Annual Rocket Pitch Competition. For five years the Rocket Pitch competition has challenged emerging and existing entrepreneurs to submit an abbreviated plan to launch an enterprise.
This year, there were three categories for would be entrepreneurs to enter: Pitch PINK (tourism/hospitality) sponsored by the Tourism Authority's More Pink Bermuda, PitchTECH (technology), sponsored by the Department of Ecommerce and PitchTOWN (local business solution), sponsored by BEDC and the Ascendant Group. The BEDC received 24 submissions from entrepreneurs vying for a chance to win over $5,000 in start-up services and funding enabling them to go from concept to creation.
Contestants in each of the three categories pitched their business ideas in front of a panel of judges who decided the first place winners. This year, the judging panels included PitchPINK: Isabelle Ramsey-Brackstone, owner of Lili Bermuda; Colin Campbell, Regional Manager OBM International; Karla Lacey, CEO Bermuda Hospitality Institute; Erica Smith EEZA Director and Jeremy Deacon, owner Deep Blue Communications.
PitchTech judges included: Marisa Stones, senior analyst for the Department of Ecommerce; Edgar Dill, vice-president sales and marketing, Link Bermuda; Florence Smith, vice-president head of merchant services Bermuda and Cayman Islands, Butterfield Bank; Anthony Hansen, business development manager, Logic Communications; and Don Mackenzie, chairman, Suite Solutions. Rounding out the judging panel were the PitchTOWN judges: Adam Hawley, general manager Facilities Management, iFM Ltd; Robert Platt, general manager, Air Care Ltd; Judith Uddin, general manager and chief operating officer, Bermuda Gas and Utility Company Ltd; Nick Kempe, BEDC chairman and vice-president Bermuda Forwarders; and Leon Bascome, Owner MoonGate Insurance.
Each panel of judges heard from eight entrepreneurs who in seven minutes had to explain their business idea. The judges had the difficult time of identifying the top three pitchers in each of the categories. Ultimately the top three were identified as: PitchPINK: Aderonke Bademosi–Wilson, Picture Perfect Tours; Vic Ball for Massage by the Sea; Tareek Somner, Bermuda Wheels and Raleigh Bermuda, Outdoor Adventures. PitchTECH top three included: Carla Lambert, Bermuda Connect; Katherine Fisher, Gotcha Covered; Matthew and Michael Sinclair for L.O.V.E and Courtney Daniels-Bushner, The Odd Jobber. PitchTOWN finalists included: Katrina Ball, Bermuda Parent & Kids Expo; Omar Lodge and Amber Center, Amber's Rum Cakes; and Carla Emery, Art Works. The winners of the competition would be announced at the Celebration of Entrepreneurship & Innovation reception held later in the week in conjunction with the TechAwards.
Every week day during GEW, there was a series of Lunch & Learns held to help provide entrepreneurs with information on a variety of subject matter including the Bermuda Realty discussion on Real Estate opportunities, the BEPRO panel discussion with existing entrepreneurs, the Inspire eBusiness panel discussion on starting an eBusiness in Bermuda and the TechTalk panel discussion on using technology to increase business efficiency. In addition to the day time events, every evening during the week entrepreneurs attended events designed to help them connect and network with each other.
On Tuesday, November 19, the EEZA hosted Vendor Market Seminar and trade show that allowed micro-entrepreneurs to meet and mingle with all things related to vending. Representatives from each of the six established vendor markets on the Island met with and spoke with interested entrepreneurs and shared the requirements for establishing a booth at their respective markets. Also in attendance were representatives from Government departments related to vending.
Wednesday, November 20 started early with a Youth Workshop sponsored by the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU). Forty young men and women enrolled in the Adult Education School participated in the four-hour workshop and received breakfast, lunch and information on identifying a business opportunity which included an overview of entrepreneurship and a testimony by new entrepreneur, Owen Millet owner of Green Star Wash.
Owen shared his vision of establishing a franchise model for his all green, no water car wash. Other topics covered during the workshop included a presentation from BEDC finance director, Ray Jones on understanding the importance of costing and pricing as a business owner.
Following him was BPSU vice-president, Jason Hayward who spoke on the importance of Customer Service. Closing out the session were Troy Thomas, Trades & Technical Programme Officer, Ascendant Group, and Barbara Jones, Human Resources Coordinator, Bermuda Gas, who focused on the importance of identifying and working with a mentor. Each student received a “toolkit” a GEW Branded bag which included pens, pencils, highlighters, pads and a GEW T-shirt.
Wednesday evening allowed young entrepreneurs to get together at Goslings Wine Cellar at the Young Entrepreneurs' Mixer coordinated by co-owner of Traveler's Price Card, Nhuri Bashir. Nhuri remarked that he “wanted to host the Mixer for those with young ideas and who are young at heart with regard to their passion for entrepreneurship.” Over 60 attendees were treated to short inspiring tips from seasoned and new entrepreneurs while enjoying music, refreshments and drinks graciously sponsored by Goslings.
Leading up to GEW, the TechAward nominations were underway. On Thursday, November 22, at the Celebration of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the winners of the TechAwards were announced with Mount Saint Agnes Academy App/Tech Club winning for the Most Innovative Youth Project, the Easy Park Mobile App won most Innovative Mobile App, Innovation of the Year in the Bermuda market was won by Bermuda Aerial Media who gave a demonstration of their aerial camera that can take clear aerial photos of Bermuda from as high as 19 kilometres. Innovation of the Year in the Global market was won by MediaMine LLC for their Hollywood Walk of Fame App and a favorite for the evening was the newly introduced People's Choice Award, won by Bermemes who maintained a spot at #1 for almost the entire nomination period. During this event the Rocket Pitch Winners were also announced with 1st place prize going to PitchPINK contestants Keri Pacheco and Justin Cann representing Raleigh Bermuda for their Outdoor Adventures, hiking and camping tour business. For PitchTECH, Katherine Fisher took home the 1st prize for Gotcha Covered a custom upholstery business using computer aided designs and automation systems. The last category PitchTOWN was won by Omar Lodge and Amber Center for Amber's Rum Cakes, pop up shops providing homemade goodness all over Bermuda.
Ascendant, as lead sponsor of Global Entrepreneurship Week contributed to the week, with its subsidiary company, Bermuda Gas hosting the Business Booster GEW Sponsor Thank you Reception at the Bermuda Gas Kitchen Showroom on Friday, November 23.
GEW sponsors got a chance to mix and mingle with participants in the weeks events as well as see the opportunities for new entrepreneurial ventures that exist in the Showroom space. Cynthia Wright Marketing Manager for the Ascendant Group offered that those in need of kitchen space can consider using the facilities because it is a fully functioning kitchen. In addition the space is well equipped to host functions as attendees were able to utilize the indoor and outdoor deck space equipped with a fireplace, waterfall fixture which provided ambiance and warmth. Nick Kempe, BEDC Chairman, thanked the sponsors for their support throughout the week and offered that “this event is a nice way to wind down from the week's worth of inspiring activities organized by the GEW Advisory Committee.”
The launch of GEW began in an Entrepreneur's office space at Nineteen and it was fitting that as the week came to a close that we were able to celebrate the launch of a new business – All Things Sassy, located in the Bermudiana Arcade. Owner, Gina Flood coincided the grand opening of her Pet Boutique with GEW. Mrs. Flood stated that GEW helps young entrepreneurs fulfill their passion and she always says, “find what makes you sing and starting her business has allowed her to fulfill her passion and stepping out on a limb to take this chance is what makes her sing.”
The feedback from participants and sponsors of GEW was very positive with most agreeing that the Bermuda Events definitely fulfilled the objectives of GEW which to reiterate are to engage, connect, mentor and inspire. One participant stated that it was “exciting to see the long list of activities taking place every day and it made me feel like I was in a larger city where these types of inspiring activities take place on a more frequent basis.”
As the Business Development Officer for BEDC, I have the pleasure of working with entrepreneurs on a daily basis, so coordinating GEW is similar to what we do at BEDC but in a concentrated format. I would like to thank all our sponsors of the week including Belco, Bermuda Gas, iFM, Air Care; Link Bermuda, the Department of Ecommerce, More Pink Bermuda, BPSU, HSBC, Butterfield Bank, Bermuda Realty Group, KPMG, Deep Blue Communications, MindMaps, Amicus Corporate Services, Gosling's, Suite Solutions, XL, The Chamber of Commerce, BEPRO, Traveler's Price Card.com and Nineteen.
The GEW Advisory Board has been the driving force behind this action packed week so I would be remiss if I didn't thank the members of the Advisory Board for all their efforts including: Sheilagh Robertson, BEDC Board member and owner of Harbourmaster; Kristin White, BEDC Board member and owner of the Book Cellar; Joe Mahoney, Director of the Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative of Bermuda; Nancy Volesky, Director Department of Ecommerce; Marisa Stones, senior analyst with the Department of Ecommerce; Aliyyah Ahad, Bermuda Emerging Professionals (BEPRO) board member; Travis Gilbert, Business Development Unit – Ministry of Economic Development and last but not least, Nhuri Bashir, co-owner of Traveler's Price Card.
Every year GEW gets bigger and better and I look forward to continuing to help to support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bermuda by coordinating another successful GEW in 2014. Until next year... stay GEWy my friends.
If you have questions about starting a business in Bermuda, just ask BSBDC: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 292-5570.
Jamillah Lodge is a business development officer for Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation. She specialises in providing aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with business development advice and loan guarantee assistance. In addition, she manages the marketing and communications plan for the Corporation and oversees the development of a mentorship and youth entrepreneurship programme. She has a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and should serve a general guide and should not be considered as replacement advice from a lawyer, accountant or other professional service provider. Readers should consult with the appropriate professionals as necessary.