Di­rec­tory.gy wins PitchIT Caribbean Chal­lenge in Ja­maica

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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