” I don’t think you’ll see anything big in 2010 for Jamaica online. Not being negative but just realistic. For anything big online, it’s going to cost some cash to get it built and marketed. That kind of money exists with the Internet Ignorant and while they are slowly gaining confidence even with the evidence as blatant as Facebook’s 200,000+ Jamaicans (in Jamaica) and climbing they still choose to throw money at the old mediums..playing it safe!”
This was the last email in the discussion I saw this morning, and it came from a colleague of mine as part of an email discussion thread started last night between a bunch of us Jamaican-based technology entrepreneurs. It started with the list of Alexa.com’s top11 Jamaican sites curated and published by another colleague.
Here’s the list.
Top 11 Jamaican sites on Alexa.com
5. Jncb.com (National Commercial Bank)
6. Utech.edu.jm (University of Technology)
7. Uwi.edu (University of the West Indies)
The responses from the group followed.
1. One major thing I noticed is that all the sites seem to have a major offline presence or at least some offline marketing going. I’ve seen the 876Radio.Com sticker too many times in Juci Beef. (Kudo’s to Dancehall Mobi btw). Tells us a thing or two about offline promoting at least in Jamaica!
2. Looking at the other list, without the ‘only’ Jamaican sites – I see Facebook now at number one – I guess people almost fully reserve their regular mail for business and are now using facebook solely to communicate with family/friends?…first it was letter, telegram, cable…phone, then text message, then email / IM – now it’s Facebook -interesting to see what’s next. I need something spectacular out of Jamaica…that serves the world and not just Jamaicans…
3. Right on the money…. but seriously – do we really care about visitors? I mean, visitors can be used to convince companies to pay big bucks for adspace – not for sales but mainly for brand awareness, positioning etc…. (Not withstanding the adult site space… its a wonder how people pay more to see half naked people than fully naked people – How come EHarmony.Com makes more money than Porn.Com ?) But what about sites like comparecards.com with 10,000+ visitors monthly and $100,000+ plus in revenue monthly???
4 years ago you needed to improve your Alexa ranking or you were dead…
2 years ago if you were not marketing on MySpace you were dead….
1 year ago if you were not marketing on Facebook you were dead….
Today if you are not marketing on Twitter you ARE dead…..
4. The problem in Jamaica is with those old dudes running the companies who are just getting a hang of FaceBook and the other marketing mediums…but no worries about them and their backward old self – just set your site up, you don’t need millions to do it – I am going to make one and show to you – it will only take a month to build and I will only spend money to market it for the first 2 months just to get a rush in membership – and then it will all be viral, even you gonna join in 🙂
But – as I said, you don’t really need to make the site and depend on local advertisers to advertise – most of them know about Google Adwords and are getting a hang of it…so, you will catch those ads on your Jamaican sites – plus, you have a lot more Jamaicans outside the country who are constantly looking for Jamaican content online…you just have to place the ad for your site on the most trafficked Jamaican sites for the first few months then go viral… just make sure whatever site you are doing, the content is driven by the users – a democratic process, by the users for the users…and bam bidi bam, you gone clear…most hosting companies have good up time now, so – no worries about big expensive hosts – just make sure that your database is well structured and you are not using any free scripts off line (well, I think there are some good things you can find online ) but strive to build everything in house so that it does not eat up the server resource – then it will be expensive on your part – and the returns may not be great.
My two cents
I agree we should stop expecting many of these large, top heavy, old school companies to start thinking and acting like they know they are living and doing business in the Digital Age. Just expect them to continue to lose money and eventually die ( Retail, Tourism and Travel, Food and Beverage industries are ones to closely watch). Haven’t we seen enough evidence of this in North America, in fact world wide. Big brands that are slow to change get clobbered or gobbled up.
We’ll see this in Jamaica and the Caribbean too and this year. Many of these “industry leaders” are unaware of the digital termites ( small, nimble, smart, hungry entrepreneurs) who have been eating away at their foundation and even if they are, in their arrogance they discount and disregard them and it will be to their peril. This is why I keep saying that is Global Recession is also a Global Redistribution of wealth. You just have to chose which side of the change you want to play on. Some Jamaican and Caribbean companies are choosing status quo – same mind-set, management style, way of doing business that has “worked” for them for years.
I believe we’ll see remarkable and spectacular stuff coming out of Jamaica for the Jamaican, Caribbean and Global market. I am a firm believer that you don’t have to be big or the next Facebook to matter or in fact be be a game changer in Jamaica,the Caribbean or globally. Let’s borrow the lens of the 37signals CEO Jason Fried who led his company to ignore the big companies and focus on the many more small companies he had access to in the American market and of course globally. Let’s look out for the startups, the niche players, the many many more small companies who are doing so much more for consumers and industries.
I’m very fortunate to be continuously privy to developments in web-based software, online sites and mobile plays here with Jamaican and Caribbean startups to be hopeful. Alot of which I have not be able to write about here as yet for privacy reasons. But I do expect some remarkable stuff coming to market. And when we say big, what do we really mean…big in terms of the product or service’s impact on consumers; big in terms of revenue for the company; big in terms of it being a game changer in the industry; big in terms of a Facebook type company?
I’m inviting you to read also Seth Godin’s post Welcome to the frustration decade (and the decade of change)