They wowed the judges with their pitch from a field of five competing firms and walked away with the coveted USD$5,000 prize. Chief Executive Officer Shenelle Hills-Fife said, “We are overjoyed but we also realized that it does not matter what kind of company you have. If you show your passion, demonstrable evidence that the business can work and get feedback from customers, then you are in business — if not, it is a hobby. We plan on using the funds to purchase equipment that will triple our current production capacity.”
Like many start-up founders, Hills-Fife juggled full-time work with developing a business but quit her day job earlier this year to concentrate fully on growing her business. “This is only the start. We intend to apply for the $25,000 USD LINK-Caribbean Investment Readiness Grant and even the Co-Investment Grant given the increased interest of investors in our company,” she said.
The 5-5-5 Pitch Campaign is the latest initiative of LINK-Caribbean in an effort to find more investable businesses, or “deal flow” for the region’s Angel Investor networks. The competition allows five entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses to a panel of five investors, with the top successful business selected to receive a USD$5,000 cash award.
“We decided to run this initiative to raise greater awareness around the LINK-Caribbean programme and to ultimately spur a more buoyant angel investment ecosystem within the region,” explained Chris McNair, manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at the Caribbean Export Development Agency. The LINK-Caribbean pitch campaign will continue in the Bahamas, Grenada, and Saint Lucia in 2018 and all interested entrepreneurs are encouraged to submit applications via the website www.link-caribbean.com.
The World Bank Group, together with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, launched LINK-Caribbean in September 2016, funded by the government of Canada. This investment facilitation program aims to enable early-stage Caribbean entrepreneurs to raise capital from private investors, particularly business angel investors.