Jamaican Start-Ups...

Jamaican Start-Ups Share Solutions for Emerging Markets at Slush

BookFusion and CrimeBot were selected by PitchIT Caribbean, a program to advance mobile app development in the Caribbean

This week, four of the Caribbean’s top mobile entrepreneurs are traveling to Slush, a leading technology conference held annually in Helsinki, Finland. The entrepreneurs will participate in the Global Impact Accelerator, a two-week program designed to help impactful entrepreneurs from emerging markets accelerate their businesses and attract financing.

We spoke with the founders of BookFusion and CrimeBot, two Jamaican companies selected for the accelerator by PitchIT Caribbean, to learn more about their innovative solutions.

BookFusion Heads to Slush Global Impact Accelerator

The BookFusion team, from left to right: Sergey Nartimov, CTO; Dwayne Campbell, CEO; and Kellye-Raé Fisher Campbell, COO.

Dwayne Campbell, CEO and Co-Founder of BookFusion

1. How does it feel to be representing the Caribbean at Slush?

We are excited to be attending Slush and feel honored to have been granted the opportunity. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing from innovators and technology leaders from around the world.

2. Could you share an elevator pitch for your company, BookFusion?

BookFusion is an global ebook platform that gives publishers and authors direct control of their rights and digital content, while enhancing the reader's experience through interactive and responsive features and socially engaging tools.

Publishers and authors can enhance their ebooks by adding engaging interactive features, such as animations, read-along audio, pop up pictures and information, embedded videos, multiple choice questions and answers, open ended questions, and more.

For readers, reading and managing your bookshelf is fun and easy. Readers can sign up, browse the store, purchase an ebook, or download one of over 50,000 free titles. They can also upload any ebook they own and enjoy free digital library management and hassle-free cloud reading on any device.

3. What big challenge are you trying to solve?

Publishers and authors from emerging markets have not yet made the transition from print to digital. The problem is that they don’t trust the solutions available from existing platforms, which hijack authors' rights and dictate their prices. In addition, there is a lack of credit card penetration in emerging markets, which in turn limits readers’ access to ebooks.

The result is a general lack of cultural, creative, and educational content from emerging markets in a digital format. And finally, books have generally remained flat — even digital content is simply words on a screen. There's no interactivity.

4. How does BookFusion help authors and publishers transition from print to digital?

BookFusion aims to solve the biggest technological and digital publishing hurdles — namely, control and cost, access to technology, and global distribution. Among our range of features, authors and publishers gain a variety of distribution and publishing tools, access to rich reader data and analytics, and more control over their price, content, and rights. We offer global market access, full transparency on sales and reader data, and higher royalties.

We support increased interactivity for an enhanced reading experience, as well. Readers can not only interact and receive immediate feedback from their ebooks, but they can also store, manage, and discover ebooks of any format, from any device, both online and offline. Finally, to encourage readers to download ebooks, we introduce "BookCards" that can be purchased at a physical location and redeemed online.

5. Tell us about your target markets.

Publishers and Authors: Publishing houses and authors in search of solutions for digitally publishing their local content on a global scale, while having total control of their rights and prices. In particular, publishers and authors in the education industry who want to enhance their content by adding interactive features, such as true-false and multiple choice questions, read-along audio, and more.

Content Providers and Providers of Corporate Libraries: With our ebook and digital content management solution, corporations and institutions can distribute content securely to its members for defined periods of time.

Readers and End Users: Our users range from avid readers who are seeking a digital library cloud management solution to students seeking educational texts in an interactive ebook format. It also includes a variety of readers who are seeking educational, cultural, and creative content from emerging markets like the Caribbean and Latin America.

6. How competitive is your market?

While there are a number of ebook platforms, such as Amazon, iBooks, and Nook & Nook, none of these companies are focused on or cater to emerging markets, which are just now becoming technology-ready and growing three to five times faster than developed markets like the United States and United Kingdom. Additionally, all of these companies mentioned are largely focused on selling ebooks, rather than enhanced and interactive reading.

7. What are your goals for Slush?

Our main aim is to build relationships and create a worldwide network of mentors, partners, and industry stakeholders across the globe. We are confident that we will meet brilliant minds and make strategic connections that will convert into partnerships, mentorships, and clients. Slush will also provide much needed international exposure.

8. How did you become involved with PitchIT Caribbean?

We are extremely thankful to have applied for PitchIT. We were one of the winners of the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge, and since then we’ve forged many vital connections and have continued to grow and learn from the mentorship and support of the PitchIT Team.

9. Do you have any advice for other mobile entrepreneurs?

Continue to test and develop your idea, work hard, network, and believe in your solution. With perserverance and diligence, great opportunities will present themselves. When they do, make the best of it!

Dave Oakley, CEO of CrimeBot

David Oakley, CEO and Founder of CrimeBot

1. Could you share an elevator pitch for CrimeBot?

Crimebot limited is a Jamaican startup focused on using technology to solve crime. It is a mobile application that allows users to anonymously report crimes and criminals. It pinpoints crime hotspots and uses push alerts to notify users of crimes near their current location.

2. What big challenge is CrimeBot trying to solve?

Our core mission surrounds the tech-for-good concept. We feel we can leverage technology to fight many issues affecting the Caribbean — and by extension, the world. With CrimeBot, we are trying to reduce crimes and criminal activities in the Caribbean and beyond by giving a voice to the voiceless.

3. What solution does CrimeBot offer for tackling crime in the Caribbean?

We are offering users a safe way to report crimes and be aware of crimes in their respective locations. This tool is built to ensure that users are safe when they choose to do their civic duties.

4. Who are your target markets?

We launched our MVP [minimum viable product] in Jamaica and we plan to scale to other Caribbean countries. We are focusing on countries with high crime rates and high smartphone penetration.

5. How competitive is your market?

Currently, the market we are targeting has only traditional media for crime information. In Jamaica, there is a similar program offered by the government; however, we are providing a service that users will prefer and trust, given its complete anonymity.

6. How does it feel to be representing the Caribbean at Slush?

We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to participate in Slush. We are thankful that we get to represent Jamaica on the world stage.

7. What are your goals for Slush?

This is an opportunity that we must take complete advantage of. We need to find new tech partners to aid with the rebuilding of the application. We also need mentors who can give us critical advice. We think Slush will give us a chance to those partners.

8. How did you become involved with PitchIT Caribbean?

PitchIT is creating a needed ecosystem for Jamaican start-ups. It offers a platform for a diverse crowd to find support when building their products. We have been involved in the World Bank, Start-Up Jamaica, and EPIC ecosystem, and that's how we were made aware of PitchIT Caribbean and decided to participate.

9. What advice do you have for other mobile entrepreneurs?

Failure is not fatal.  

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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