It started with a last minute decision to go to the first Startup Weekend Jamaica event in October 2013 held by ConnectiMass and ohhhh what a ride co-founders of Agrocentral Jermaine Henry and Janice McCleod has had since then!
They recently pivoted two months ago-so are in the process of re-branding and launching our new product. At end of August though, they went to Aruba’s first Tech Conference Atech and won US$20,000 in the Pitch Contest. Then today Monday Sept 15th, Jermaine Henry heads off to an initial 30 day stint at DevLabs in Oakland, California.
We spoke to Jermaine and Janice to get a snapshot of their journey.
SC: List all of the countries you have been as a result of coming in with an idea, finding your co-founders and winning the first Startup Weekend Jamaica in October 2013?
Agrocentral: We have been to so many awesome places on our startup journey-Kenya, Trinidad, Barbados, Canada, Suriname, China, Panama and Aruba.
SC: Give us a list of the competitions you guys have entered and won?
Agrocentral: Startup Weekend Jamaica 2013, Omraan Smart Cities Competition (Finalist), InfoDev Investment Readiness Bootcamp, TIC Americas Economic Innovation Award (Caribbean) 2015 and ATECH Conference Demo Day 2015
SC: How did you end up going to Atech Conference in Aruba this past August?
Agrocentral: We are avid readers of startup forums and blogs. We found out about ATECH through Techcocktail (tech.co) one of Jermaine’s favourite blogs and we decided to apply.
SC: What was the competition like in the Atech Conference Pitch Competition? How many other startups and what kind of ideas?
Agrocentral: The competition was an amazing experience. We went up against teams from the US (Croissant-Subscription to use shared office spaces ), Canada (ShareShed-specialises in the sharing of specialised sporting equipment), Dominican Republic (Sali-a wearable that monitors blood pressure) and Aruba (Juicy-a vaping platform that allows people moving away from smoking to find specialised vape flavours). The startups ranged from wearables to co-working space subscription. It was very diverse.
SC: Now that you have won the US$20k from Atech Conference Pitch Competition what are you going to spend it on?
Agrocentral: We plan on using the money to onboard an additional developer, pay a small stipend to the founders and cover our operating expenses.
SC: What really is the status right now of Agrocentral as a startup? And what chief lessons have you learnt along this 2 year journey?
Agrocentral: AgroCentral has recently pivoted (2 months ago) so we are in the process of re-branding and launching our new product. The chief lessons learnt so far are
1) Persistence is key – We had many challenges that we had to overcome, but because we believed in our vision we persisted and it has brought us this far, and we look forward to where the company will take us.
2) You should always be learning – Our team is constantly learning and evolving. We read constantly within our domain and always on the look out for things that will help us to improve as ourselves as individuals and this carries over into our company.
3) Nothing can replace a great team – We have grown together as a team, and our newest member Phillip a developer, is awesome. Our team is built on trust and the understanding that we can depend on each other to get sh*t done.
SC: What is next for Agrocentral? Here you are off to Oakland to DevLabs? What’s the goal there?
Agrocentral: The goal of heading to DevLabs is to accelerate our business and technical development efforts as well as using the opportunity as exposure to the US market.
NB: DevLabs defines itself as “a fund and incubator that provides business development and product development support to early stage software startups. We have early access to outlier entrepreneurs solving big problems to expand into global markets.”
Heard: We heard that DevLabs may be setting up a Trafalgar Road office in Kingston, Jamaica. And is Minister Julian Robinson headed to Devlabs in Oakland California shortly?