A spirit of innovation continues to thrive in the Caribbean as more and more entrepreneurs seek to leverage technology to solve problems within their communities, countries, the region, and even the world. In this edition of the Spotlight on Startups series we take a look at companies that have been making moves in industries ranging from beauty to data to travel.
De Jeunésse, Trinidad & Tobago
De Jeunésse is a Caribbean beauty brand that specializes in handmade bath and body products made from natural, local materials. According to its cofounder, Shenelle Hills-Fife, the company is committed to giving back to the environment. To that end, every customer receives a packet of seeds in each soap box to encourage them to plant their own kitchen gardens. "This ensures that our brand literally grows inside their homes," says Hills-Fife. De Jeunésse got its start in 2014 in a University of the West Indies dorm room. Less than a decade later, its products can be found in select Massy Stores locations. "This was a huge milestone for us...This proved to us that starting in your kitchen and ending up in the largest retail store in the Caribbean is possible and we can compete with larger brands on the market," says Hills-Fife.
Lynk-Me is a platform designed to to change the way people and businesses manage data. Founded in 2017 by Kesha Julien & Louis Kinley, the company facilitates the seamless collection, verification, storage, management and reuse of data. It also offers customization services including no-code text extraction and machine learning, at minimal additional cost. This, Kinley believes, sets Lynk-Me apart in the industry. "Most of our competitors stop at the verification stage with little thought given to the storage, management or reuse of this data to improve the customer experience," he says. It's in part due to this unique product offering that this TBR LAB alum has also secured a grant with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the European Union (EU) and IDB LAB in collaboration with the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI). Lynk-Me is also in the process of raising a seed round in the next quarter which will allow them to expand into the wider Caribbean, Latin America and the USA.
The LocaL App, Antigua and Barbuda
The LocaL App is a travel app created to help its users “feel at home wherever they roam”. Developed by Elijah James, after he found himself wandering around in search of a hotel at 1 am in a foreign land, the platform is a GPS-enabled digital portal that connects travellers with local businesses. The app provides a convenient way for visitors to find the services they require, while enabling businesses to quickly and easily establish an e-commerce storefront, with zero technical skills required. "Indeed many others have attempted what we endeavour to achieve in building a successful two sided marketplace and although intimidating - The LocaL App has taken several innovative approaches since our MVP stage to ensure we could overcome the classic chicken-and-egg challenges in our business model," says James. Since inception, the startup has had several big wins, including participation in competitive accelerator programs such as TBR LAB and BID ao Cubo. In terms of next steps, James and his team have plans to launch fintech services, MoneyMate and LocaL Pay, that will enable its users to easily open a digital bank account and e-wallet to facilitate cashless payments.
We hope you appreciated learning about these startups as much as we enjoyed sharing their stories.If you know of a Caribbean-founded startup that is making great strides in their industry, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to feature them!
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