UpTick brings you conversations with the Caribbean entrepreneurs & innovators who are building the brands and businesses that have the potential to not only impact the Caribbean, but also represent the Caribbean on the global business stage. Their stories will move you, inspire you, push you to take action or maybe inspire your next big idea.
Resa Gooding - Founder of Cacao Media
There have been times where I visited somewhere for the first time, like the first time I ever went to Hawaii. As an island boy, the unique mix of island life and vibe as someone from the Caribbean islands, but also the feeling that you have some aspects of the US professional world all in the same place.
They say that there are Caribbean people pop up everywhere doing all sorts of things, and one such example is today’s guest, who is a Caribbean entrepreneur born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, who has ended up not in one of the common places like London or Miami and New York, but rather in Israel.
They say that if you can make it in a city like New York you can make it anywhere and that’s no doubt true, but I’d say that if you’re a Caribbean woman who has never done marketing before, living in Israel where you don’t speak the language, and you go from that to having one of the most in-demand ad agencies not just in the country, but in the lobal HubSpot agency partner network, you might be one of those people who can make it anywhere.
Ron Johnson - Managing Director, Blueprint Creative
Some people have a gift of telling incredibly vivid stories that allow you to visualize in amazing detail the experiences they’re recounting. When you add to that, an ability to impart a lesson and you have a rare and unique gift.
The Caribbean has been blessed with some amazing storytellers, but what I find incredibly interesting about today’s guest is he’s a businessperson with big ideas who also simultaneously has this gift and the commitment to
Some ideas can have incredible impact, but the thing that differentiates the best innovators is an ability to pair powerful ideas with a relentless commitment to execution that helps those ideas take root and spread and have the impact that they’re capable of.
Fundamentally this podcast is about what’s possible for people from the Caribbean. It’s about the amazing impact that we can have and that we are already having, embodied by people who are all over the Caribbean region or from the Caribbean region living abroad. People who not only embrace their potential, but also are undaunted by things like being from a small part of the world. They actively work to shed themselves of the mental barrier that Mia Mottley, the inspirational female Prime Minister of Barbados calls the barrier that Caribbean people must work hard to avoid, the barrier of self-contempt.
Ron Johnson, co-founder of Blue Print Creative is also ironically from the island of Barbados, and in addition to his work building a well-respected branding and design agency, he is also spreading a powerful idea about the essential inter-connection between branding and HR. You’ll learn a ton from his story, his philosophies, his commitment to impact and I know you’ll enjoy his ability to communicate powerful ideas and lessons through vivid storytelling. Let’s take a listen.
Alex Siu Chong - CEO of Excellent Stores
On the one hand I bet many Caribbean entrepreneurs out there wish that they had an opportunity to inherit a great brand and business that a family member had built up, where they wouldn’t have the stress of figuring out every single thing from scratch. And that’s the opportunity that today’s guest had.
But you know when you really think about it, it’s also incredibly hard to take on something that someone else has built and come into it, stamp your own ideas on to it and also take it further into new waters.
Today we’ll explore the journey that Alex Siu Chong has taken. Alex is CEO of Excellent Stores, a department store operation that was started by his grandfather in Trinidad, but that is not operating in multiple markets around the Caribbean, but that’s not all.
This is a time when Caribbean businesses can’t hide from global competition reaching us right on our doorsteps. It’s a time when rapidly evolving tools, technologies and techniques threaten to make almost every business disappear unless the leaders and employees of those businesses have the courage to learn and then master those very technologies and techniques that are threatening to disrupt. And that’s what I love about Alex’s journey. In his case it was the need to embrace ecommerce as a retailer in the face of not just local, but global competition. He recognized that regardless of whether you’re leading the smallest startup, or the largest pan-regional Corporation, that today’s Caribbean leader must be prepared to take on global competition that is far bigger, has more resources, and that if you aren’t equal parts careful and brave will crush you without a moment’s thought.
In the process, he’s tackled the challenge of stepping into big shoes and facing the high expectations not just from those who’ve come before, but the high expectations of a rapidly changing consumer base. And what I love about his evolving story, is that like every innovator, he has been willing to shift approach and pivot, he has been willing to persevere through all manner of challenge, and all of this while maintaining a commitment to a core mission and purpose.
He is today’s guest on the new Season 2 of the UpTick Caribbean podcast. He is Alex Siu Chong, CEO of Excellent Stores..
David Mullings: The Entrepreneurial Investor
You know, some people look at the Caribbean and they see our vibe and our vibrancy, some look at the Caribbean and they see our inefficiency and the things we don’t do or the things we could be doing. And some people look at the Caribbean and they see more than just an opportunity for themselves. They see a path to connecting the best of the Caribbean to the world. That’s the type of higher order purpose that I really connect to personally, and today’s guest does so as well.
David Mullings of Blue Mahoe Capital is a Jamaican entrepreneur who is blazing a unique path by embracing being one of those people who can create a bridge between the Caribbean and the world.
As a founder of Blue Mahoe Capital, he is taking a unique and aggressively audacious approach to connecting Caribbean businesses to the US and wider international capital markets. He is taking private equity where many have tried, but few have succeeded, but what’s really cool about that, is that he is doing it all while living in service of a wider purpose, to be a positive role model and representative of the Caribbean on a global level. And fundamentally telling stories like this one, is what the UpTick podcast is all about. That’s why I’m thrilled to kick off season 2 of the uptick podcast, where we feature Caribbean innovators and their stories, by introducing you to the story of David Mullings, a story that I believe will inspire and educate.
But perhaps most exciting of all, like so many of the stories of the innovators and leaders that we feature on UpTick, his is a story that is very much being written as we speak. Let’s hear more from David…
Jane Wight: CEO of The Business Supply Group of Trinidad
Barack Obama had a bestselling book called the Audacity of Hope. Somehow while not exactly the same thing, when I think of this episode’s guest, audacity is a word that comes to mind. On the podcast often we’ve explored the stories of Caribbean entrepreneurs, but this season we’ve widened the scope because innovation takes many forms and there are many Caribbean businesses that have been established for quite some time, yet they are also on a path of innovation and transformation. And within many of these businesses are leaders at multiple levels who are pushing a change and transformation agenda that in their own unique ways are going to help to shape a new Caribbean business reality, and I want you to hear these stories too.
Jane Wight, is CEO of The Business Supply Group, and I wouldn’t say that she’s a rarity simply because she’s a young female CEO . But I would say that she’s a rarity in that she got to her leadership position after starting out in the HR field. And while that could be pretty unique, what I was most struck by was her combination of confidence, gumption and willingness to break established conventions and norms, not only to get to where she’s gotten to, but most importantly to take on shifting work culture to embrace the power and potential of people. At the end of the day, Caribbean competitiveness on a global stage is going to be led by people. People who understand what they are capable of, and who benefit from leaders who give them the opportunities to achieve all that they are capable of. Today’s guest, is exactly that type of leader, she pushes the envelope, holds herself and people around her to incredibly high standards, all while maintaining a huge focus on balance as a foundational part of her philosophy when it comes to people. On today’s episode of UpTick, I invite you to learn more of the story of Jane Wight….
Monty Pemberton: DeNovo Energy | Trinidad & Tobago
Say hello to Monty Pemberton, founder of De Novo Energy.
In this episode, you'll learn what's possible when you combine an entrepreneurial itch with a determination to innovate by continually challenging the status quo.
You'll discover how leaders can encourage a culture of innovation and problem solving in their own organisations plus some of the core traits you need to be successful as an entrepreneur and innovator.
You'd also hear from him about why it's so important to not just set goals for your business success but also for your mental health as you tackle the entrepreneurial journey.