STARTUPS – So what do you get when you take the best or most popular features of FourSquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Groupon, Facebook, Online Yellow Pages and Google Search?….. a mashup of a social and commerce platform called F1RST.com – that was hatched in Trinidad by a team of Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurs.
This is how they describe themselves “From Caribbean Food, Shopping & Nightlife, to big Deals & Discounts, www.F1RST.com connects you to Caribbean experiences you LOVE and NEED. Our first product is a web and mobile app that easily allows you to access anything your looking for, from a nearby gas station to your favourite local restaurant.”
How it works is that F1RST.com ” allows everyday consumers and local businesses to build an intimate and valuable relationship, like they have never been able to develop in the past.
Search and find expansive details about any business in the entire region. Never miss a large discount sale or exclusive event at your favourite places again. View delicious items from the most popular menus of the best restaurants around. Keep up with friends and let them know where the fun is at by checking in to hot spots when you visit. We are all about solving problems that deliver a great experience, bringing you the results you desire and most importantly, the satisfaction you deserve.”
The platform having being built for the last 2 1/2 years goes live on February 1, 2014. According to Kiev Wilkie, a Co-founder and director of the startup. The site already has 40,000 people who signed up to be alerted about the launch, 25,000 social media followers and 100,000 businesses on the site which was garnered from APIs, disparate databases and on-the-ground teams manually making additions.
Now while this idea was born in the Caribbean and they are pitching to users and businesses here first and now, their vision is global and their team reflects that. They have 25 people based between Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados and another 40 scattered between India, Bulgaria and other countries. The company is headed by Eesa Mohammed, Serial Tech Entrepreneur and Cambridge University graduate- who is from a moneyed and entrepreneurial family.
That said, having business experiences and success in the energy and other sectors, a serious a head for business, memorable branding, strong financial backing plus a highly skilled and diverse team are strong points for F1RST. I also get their ‘build and launch from the Caribbean then take it to the world strategy’ – but I am a bit unsure about them seeking to build a viable business from what seems to be a mashup of top 5 most popular social sites on the planet right now. I have a feeling though that there is more teaming beneath the surface.
What I do know also, is that there is clearly a major data and advertising platform play as well under the hood of this Caribbean Startup, so we’ll see what happens when they go live on Feb 1 and see how many of those 40,000 signups actually convert to become users and buyers. Without question though, F1RST.com is a Caribbean Tech Startup to Watch in 2014!