Earlier this year we got a call informing us that Caribbean Ideas was nominated for the Hidden Champions Programme. This was the first time this programme was held in this region and of course we were honoured to be nominated as we saw it as a nod to the work we have been doing, as entrepreneurs in the industry, over the last few years.

Unveiling the Hidden Champions

The Hidden Champions Project is an initiative of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) that was recently launched in Trinidad and Tobago. This program recognizes companies with high growth potential and provides advisory services to help them gain traction in the market or expand regionally. The ALJ GSB, operating as the local administrator for the programme, reached out to Local companies, associations and strategic partners to nominate businesses they believe met the criteria and from the almost 100 submissions representatives from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and the IIC evaluated the candidates and selected the hidden champions.

The Process

The evaluation process for the nominated entrepreneurs was quite rigorous including interviews, questionnaires about the business performance and strategy and culminated with a presentation to representatives from IIC, KEXIM & ALJ GSB. During the evaluation the team looked at factors like:

  • Annual Sales
  • Size of the business
  • Growth & Export potential
  • Business track record
  • Productivity
  • And many other Key Performance Indicators

Ultimately Caribbean Ideas, along with Full Circle Animation and Survival Systems Ltd, were selected as the Top 3 hidden champions for Trinidad & Tobago.

As part of the award, a representative from the company was invited to attend the IDB-IIC conference in Busan, South Korea. This conference was top notch from start to finish and allowed participants to experience the beauty and culture of South Korea while networking with potential business partners and other entrepreneurs. The overall experience in South Korea was fantastic on multiple levels:

  1. Business Level
      • This trip allowed entrepreneurs indigenous to the Caribbean to interact with other companies in the same industry, compare notes and open the door for future collaboration. Caribbean Ideas had the opportunity to meet with a Korean Digital Agency. This exchange was refreshing as it emphasized for me the fact that technology transcends geographic boundaries and can allow two people from two ends of the global to share something in a common language. To reference Thomas Friedman, technology has indeed made the world flat.
    • Over the last couple years we have partnered with other companies to conduct research on the Digital Habits of specific demographics in Trinidad & Tobago (shameless plug, the 2014/15 edition is available now. Click here). The findings of these studies locally are always interesting, so entering the home of Tech giants like Samsung and LG, I used this opportunity to observe behaviour of Technology usage in the market and I noted a few key points:
        • WIFI – Glorious WIFI – This of course is a given in most large cities, but deserves a mention here because as a traveler it is always refreshing to walk off of the plane and immediately connect to FREE public wifi from the airport and throughout the city including the subway
        • Tech Teens – Our study showed that the most popular platforms across the 16-35 age group were Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, with Linkedin and Pinterest closing out the group and explored what the various groups do when they are online. From my observation the comparative group in Korea also favoured these platforms but given the ubiquity of wifi and data service, engaged in lots of gaming, music and entertainment content while in transit.
      • Technological Generation Gap – I also observed that the technological generation gap seemed to be small because the 36-50 and older group was equally engage on handsets in transit but swiping what seemed to be more news content
  2. Personal level
      • This was great opportunity for me to visit South Korea and experience their culture, food, music and various tourist sites
    • A Pleasant add-on was the fact that I was able to connect with a former classmate from my time in London/France almost 10 years ago

Overall the Hidden Champions experience was a fantastic one and I would like to thank the team for the recognition and the IIC and KEXIM teams for their hard work and hospitality while we were in South Korea. Steve Jobs always reminded us that the journey is the reward, so we are grateful and excited about this new segment of our journey.

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