CaribVenture is a partnership between the CSF, CADSTI and well-known technology investors, executives and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Through CaribVenture, the CSF intends to help foster an entrepreneurial culture in the Caribbean and facilitate the launch and growth of technology-based start-up Caribbean businesses by providing:
- Opportunities to receive initial seed funding.
- Access to advisors and mentors including researchers, academics, industry experts and successful entrepreneurs and executives who have created and/or managed successful, globally competitive technology businesses.
- Exposure to angel investors and technology venture capital firms.
- Access to decision makers both inside and outside the Region who can help provide introductions and access to markets, customers and potential strategic partners.
- Annual seed funding on a competitive basis of up to US$ 100K each to 2 technology businesses that have the potential to be globally competitive and to scale to annual revenues of about US$ 50M in about 5 to 7 years.
- Exposure to opportunities for potential Series A venture capital funding.
Start-up businesses will be identified through the CaribVenture Start-Up Challenge, a business plan competition for individuals or teams based in the Caribbean who have a technology-based business model, a motivated and entrepreneurial founding team, a realistic go-to-market strategy with a feasible work plan and timeline, and the potential for scaling to annual revenues of at least US$100M within 5 years. Targeted companies include those that have partnerships with businesses or industry experts outside of the Caribbean, and founding members who are based in the Diaspora. The startup businesses, however, must be registered in the Caribbean, have a plan for regionally generated intellectual property through Caribbean based research and development activities, and must have the potential to create hundreds of jobs in the Region.
Preferred will be Caribbean-based technology and technology-enabled entities with business models focusing primarily on serving regional and international markets, not just local market opportunities. These companies must show the potential to create new economic growth sectors and strengthen the economies of Caribbean countries by providing opportunities for high levels of employment (including a significant percentage of knowledge-based workers). Preference will be given to businesses that are either led by entrepreneurs with a track record of success and credible management teams, or entrepreneurs and management teams that are open to guidance, direction and mentorship from CaribVenture and its network of advisors.
Winners of the CaribVenture Start-Up Challenge will incubate at a new CaribVenture Innovation and Impact Center, to be based in the Caribbean, where on-site mentorship and guidance for the start-up leadership team will be available 24/7 from an Entrepreneur-In-Residence. The plan is for CaribVenture to make investments primarily in angel seed rounds, but with the flexibility to participate in Series A rounds. Assuming an initial 3-year period with a target investment of US$ 100K in each of 2 businesses every year, and assuming an average “hold back” of US$ 100K for potential follow on investment in each company, then over the next 3 years, CaribVenture could provide about US$ 1.2M in seed funding to 6 high potential start-up ventures.
To raise these funds (US$ 1.2M initially), CaribVenture will be seeking investments from high net worth individuals, international and Diaspora organizations, regional companies and regional governments, and co-investments by partners, and others. Further investments could come from multi-national businesses which would co-invest in any of the companies that appear to be a strategic fit for them. The aim is also to set up strategic VC relationships with international VC firms which would agree to review these companies within the first year of funding by CaribVenture, as potential opportunities for Series A investment.
CaribVenture will be managed by a combination of technology and investment professionals with proven experience investing in, creating, developing, and/or managing technology businesses (perhaps within the VC firm). All money raised will be invested directly in the startup businesses. No management fees will be charged. The longer term goal is that 1 or 2 of these companies will achieve a level of success that would allow CaribVenture to be able to raise a US$ 20M – 30M venture fund at the end of the initial 3-year period.
CaribVenture Makes its First Investment
CaribVenture published a request for proposals to participate in the ITCity consortium in the fall of 2016. The competition was open only to Barbados companies. The ITCity project is aimed at responding to the citizens’ needs for new information technology applications of various energy technologies usage, integrated in an intelligent way at the City level. The general expected results are based on the design of an intelligent ICT platform that will promote energy efficiency initiatives in cities and municipalities, will contribute to urban planning and environmental lifestyle, will take part in active power management of energy consumption, and will support energy end users who become active market players.
AES Energy Award.JPGThe winner was AES Energy systems, and the grant award of 20,000 Euros was made in February of 2017. The photo shows Kevin Devonish (right) of AES Energy Systems receiving the award for Professor Cardinal Warde (left) of the Caribbean Science Foundation, with Lois Oliver looking on.