On June 27th, “community” as TechBeach Retreat members know it will come to mean something far more tangible with the launch of TBR Connect - a membership community platform that will serve as a new home for tech entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, stakeholders and investors from the Caribbean and the diaspora.
The concept of community has always been at the center of TechBeach's mission - to bring together individuals from all over the Caribbean to develop relationships, share ideas, unlock opportunities, and learn from recognized leaders in the global tech space.
“Right now, there is no one comprehensive platform where people from all over the world can join an aggregated network where investors, entrepreneurs, stakeholders, and companies can all live cohesively in one space and find new avenues for collaboration. So what you'll see with TBR Connect is a global platform, where you can come in, create a profile, state your country of origin as well as where you live now and it enables you to connect with people both near you and around the world,” said Spann.
TBR Connect will have forums, where tech enthusiasts can share their opinions, debate, and discuss various topics and issues.
The platform will feature a job board, where members can browse openings from companies specifically seeking out Caribbean talent, either in the region or for remote work opportunities.
Members can benefit from free, discounted or early access to virtual and in-person TechBeach events. Through the Events calendar they can also indicate which events they’ll be attending and organize meet-ups with other members.
Critically, TBR Connect will democratize access to training, mentorship and investment from key players in the global tech industry.
The online portal will be free for general users, however members will have the option to upgrade their package to unlock additional features tailored to the category of user - entrepreneur or investor.
The launch of TBR Connect is a natural next step in the evolution of TechBeach Retreat, and founder, Kyle Maloney, sees the platform as a vital tool in the company’s arsenal for realizing its core mission.
“TechBeach’s larger strategic mission is progressing the technology ecosystem of the region. That means that you want to see homegrown applications that solve our local needs and have them scale and become polished. All technology applications start off scrappy and buggy because everybody's bootstrapping to get to that next point. We want to help these companies evolve to that polished level through the ecosystem coming together; so that’s bringing together the mentorship, the access to capital and the networks to really help them get to that point.”
According to Maloney, the seed for TBR Connect was first planted in 2018.
It was around that time it was decided the TechBeach membership needed a dedicated space to engage with each other and other players in the tech landscape.
Until then, TechBeachers had primarily stayed in touch via a WhatsApp group, where a few hundred vocal members would keep conversations going.
Maloney said, “It took us a little while to really figure out the platform. This is almost like an entirely new business where we need to really devote time to understanding it and building out the product road map and marketing.”
To realize this vision, TechBeach recruited Spann, an app entrepreneur, strategist and consultant with a passion for building startups and the communities that support and enable their growth.
From Spann’s perspective, the existing TechBeach community played a major role in defining many of the features that will be available on the platform.
“I think there was always a desire for a global community but figuring out what that would look like takes time. I think in the past year or so, and especially in the pandemic, there became a bigger need for it as people were searching for their community and tribe, just trying to figure out a way to better connect with people given the lack of in-person events.
The TechBeachers definitely started to segment into different groups organically. We wanted to provide them with the resources and the tools to assist them in doing that,” she said.
Maloney said he’s most eager to see what relationships the network will enable: “I'm just excited to add another piece to the overall picture that drives what we're trying to create - an ecosystem where people can engage, connect and cross paths in a way they otherwise would not have been able to because we're still fragmented in the islands.”
As for Spann, she’s most looking forward to measuring the impact of TBR Connect, and says the platform has the potential to affect a far broader audience than just the tech entrepreneurs and investors who join it.
She said: “I always say ‘People before product, product before promotion’. Community is at the core of what you do and it’s why you’re doing it. You’re solving a problem for people. Even if you're solving a problem for businesses, behind those businesses are still people. And so the community is not only how we thrive but at the root of why this is important. Because it's not just about the startups and innovation, it's about who the innovation touches.”
Interested entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders can sign up here to get notified of the launch on June 27 and be among the first to join the TBR Connect network.
Subscribe to the TechBeach newsletter for more insightful content related to tech and the Caribbean region/diaspora.- By Ceola Belix