Directory.gy wins PitchIT Caribbean Challenge in Jamaica
If the launch of Directory.gy last month was not exciting enough, local IT solutions company Intellect Storm (IS) is now one of five winners of the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge, which wrapped up on yesterday in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
A regional initiative, the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge was executed by the World Bank to promote the development of mobile applications-based entrepreneurship.
And it was with the submission of Directory.gy, Guyana’s lone mobile application, that the company triumphed over 20 other regional mobile applications for one of the five coveted spots that would secure start-up tech companies US$5,000 in seed funding among other prizes.
According to a statement issued by the company yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of Intellect Storm Rowen Willabus described the win as a major step for young Guyanese in the field of ICT.
“To have a Guyanese innovation selected as a winner in the first PitchIT Caribbean Challenge is an honour, not for me but for youth and ICT push in my country. This is a win for those with solutions, to inspire them to swim against the tide in their belief of betterment for our country,” he said.
Directory.GY was represented in Jamaica by Willabus and Marketing Director Ronson Gray. During the course of their stay in Jamaica, they both underwent a two-day training in preparation for the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge, which also lasted for two days. This saw rigorous presentations to two panels of judges with backgrounds in investment, financing and ICT.
Initially, the company started off as one of 25 finalists selected to pitch its business idea to the panel of judges and an audience of regional and global investors; on Friday last, the company advanced to the semi-finals before ultimately being selected as winners.
In an exclusive interview with Stabroek News prior to leaving for Jamaica, both Willabus and Grey had related that winning that competition would not only be a huge achievement for the company but also for Guyana as it would be an opportunity to “put Guyana out there” since the app is heavily based on what Guyana has to offer the rest of the world.
“Even though it is a model that can be replicated throughout the region, we are Guyanese-based and Guyanese-specific and that is what we will be promoting a lot of,” Grey said.
Willabus saw it as an opportunity to show that Guyana can produce technology related solutions and that start-ups can make it. “This journey that we are on is not just for us, this is for all the different developers in Guyana that do not have access to venture capital to make their ideas a reality. We want to be that model to show people that it can be done,” the CEO posited.
The PitchIT Caribbean Challenge was launched under the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project’s (CMIP). CMIP is part of the Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) and is executed by the University of the West Indies Consortium which consists of the UWI Consulting Inc, Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Mona Business Support Services (MBSS). PitchIT Caribbean Challenge is funded by the Government of Canada and executed by the World Bank.
Back in May, Directory.GY was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and was branded the official mobile application of Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary. It functions as a hub of information ranging from product finding, news, details and locations about utility services, restaurants and entertainment among other categories of products and services.
Intellect Storm’s CEO Rowen Willabus (second, left) and Marketing Manager Ronson Grey (first, left) along with the other four winners of the ‘PitchIT Caribbean Challenge’ which concluded yesterday in Montego Bay, Jamaica.