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.
Scofield Thomas - Managing Director 800-TECH and Southern Technology Ltd.
What is that thing? That thing that causes innovators and entrepreneurs to keep going when the chips are down? When people doubt them? When they doubt themselves even? That core essence of drive and determination that causes people to want to build and grow and create impact? It's a really powerful thing, and its one of the things that are really fascinating about alot of the conversations that I have on this show. Today's guest in no different.
Scofield Thomas is founder of 800-TECH, a business that's devoted to helping Caribbean Small to Medium sized Enterprises really harness the power of Information Technology and modern technologies to transform themselves and their businesses to become even more competitive. Pretty eerily similar to some of things that myself and my co-founder at Caribbean Ideas really believe in.
I was fascinated to explore with Scofield some of the ways that he has tackled the hurdles that has come his way, how he has juggled his entrepreneurial dream with working and studying and all of the different things that has formed him into being someone so focused on building impactful experiences for his customers and really building long term relationships.
Dr. Rochelle Haynes - CEO and Founder of Crowd Potential & Gig HR Expert
I’m always interested in understanding what leads to greatness. How people from all around the world and especially in the Caribbean build the belief that they can impact the world.
What’s interesting is that things often don’t start off with such a grandiose idea. Often great ideas start with being curious about something you see in the world, and then following the trail of your curiosity to an insight. And then you do the work to validate that your insight has relevance to more people.
In an earlier episode this season Ron Johnson of Blue Print Creative mentioned the work that Dr. Rochelle Haynes of Crowd Potential UK has been doing and as I learnt more about her work I knew we had to add her to this season’s roster so that listeners could hear her story.
Rochelle and her business partners have the copyright around a set of frameworks related to the idea of Gig HR, and they are some of the leading thinkers on a hugely important area, how organizations and people can think about designing their operations to adapt to the Gig Economy. In just the United States, in 2018 it was estimated that 36% of workers were involved in the Gig Economy and that US freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion dollars to the economy. That’s right 2018, well before the pandemic, so if that was the case before, post-pandemic, organizations worldwide have got to have a plan for how to contend with this evolving space.
Like all the stories we explore on this podcast, what I love is that Rochelle is acutely aware that ideas alone aren’t enough if you don’t have the perseverance to follow them through and the belief in yourself that no matter where you’re from, even if you’re from the smallest island, that if your idea is big enough, and your commitment strong enough, that the world will come calling.
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 now 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…