Five of the teams that participated in this year’s renewal of the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) National Business Model Competition (NBMC) for tertiary institutions will represent the country in the 2018 International Business Model Competition (IBMC) in Utah, USA, from May 10 to 11.
Heading the record list of entrants is University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus-based market research entity, Queritel, which topped the six teams participating in the recent NBMC finals at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, to emerge as Jamaica’s official representative at the IBMC.
Queritel will be joined by first and second runners-up, Eco-Structures and Pneulyfe, representing the UWI and Northern Caribbean University (NCU), respectively.
The UWI’s Skolastik Oasis and NCU’s Beasc Technology were also invited to participate.
This year’s record number of NBMC entrants results from Jamaica securing four of the 12 coveted spaces offered in the IBMC’s highly competitive ‘At Large Round’, a feat never before accomplished.
The DBJ’s Jamaica Venture Capital Programme Project Coordinator, Audrey Richards, who coordinates the NBMC, describes this as a “tremendous achievement”.
“It endorses the work our universities are doing in building future business leaders. It is an endorsement of the quality of the judges at our competition, and it sends a signal that the work we, the Development Bank of Jamaica though the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme, are doing with our universities and, indeed (towards) the development of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, is on the right path,” she says.
There is great anticipation of Jamaica doing well again in the upcoming IBMC, to replicate and even surpass impressive performances recorded by teams entering since 2014, when the country sent its first representative.
Jamaican teams have consistently finished in the top 10, despite competing against thousands of participants from over 40 colleges and universities across the world.
The 2014 NBMC winner, Herboo Enterprise, placed eighth; 2015 champion, JarGro Enterprise, reached the semi-finals; 2016 winner, Guardana Inc, which received honorary mention – sixth; and 2017 champion, Natsima Nutraceuticals – fourth.
The replication or surpassing of these placements would cap a record-breaking year for the NBMC, which saw the UWI, through Queritel, winning the competition for the first time and, in the process, breaking NCU’s dominance of the initiative since its inception.
The competition, which is designed to encourage and promote the creative and innovative thinking of students, facilitates local entrepreneurial skills and enhances collaboration and communication between stakeholders in the private sector and academia.
According to Querital’s Vice President for Marketing and Operations, Kedonne Martin, “originally the idea for Queritel was (to name the entity) Research Aid Plus, which came up after realising that students on campus needed research work done and they needed help with this… so they came to us”.
“After working with this idea for a year and pitching it, we realised that it made more sense to (market it) to entrepreneurs, who would be more willing to pay for this service. So, we pivoted to Queritel and, since then, we have had over 120 customers and made over US$6,000 in revenue, and it has been amazing. Winning this competition is another form of validation for us, and we are so happy for it,” he says.
The members of Querital copped the winning prize of $2 million, plus an all-expense paid trip to the IBMC, slated for the prestigious Utah Valley Convention Centre and the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Centre.
Prizes totalling $4 million were up for grabs in this year’s NBMC, which was sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, through the Multilateral Investment Fund; PanJam Investment; Restaurant Associates, through its flagship brand, Burger King; Musson Foundation; NCB Foundation; Sagicor Group; Scotiabank; GK Capital Management; and the PetroCaribe Development Fund.
The IBMC is sponsored by the Kevin and Debra Rollins Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, headquartered in Provo, Utah.
The entrepreneurship programme at the Marriott School, which has campuses/students across the United States and in 105 other countries, is consistently ranked among the top such offered, annually.