In January 2021 Boost invited Saint Lucians with innovative business ideas to submit to the National Idea Pitch Competition. Seven participants made it to the finals with the best ideas and they gained entry to a rigorous and intensive business development programme where the ideas were incubated into a fully-fledged business. They were paired with mentors and were given insight into the inner workings of running a business and the relevant agencies established to sustain and regulate the economy.
On Monday, April 26, 2021, the seven participants pitched their now developed ideas to a panel of judges of renowned businesspeople namely Jodi Boodhoo who is the deputy chairman of Invest Saint Lucia, Margaret Monplaisir who is the CEO of St Lucia Distillers, Zai Mohammed who is the managing director of Baywalk Mall, Michaeline St Juste who is a Business Development Officer at the Small Business Development Centre, and Fabian Jagroop who is a board member of the Youth Enterprise Equity Fund (YEEF). The pitch competition was followed by thorough deliberation by the judges, after which Boost announced the top three finalists at a closing ceremony on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Real 3D Printing, owned and managed by Kayode James, emerged the winner and received EC $10,000 worth of cash and prizes, inclusive of EC $6,000 from the Boost Entrepreneurship Seed Capital Fund, and advertising, marketing, and communication services from sponsors Invest Saint Lucia, Sagicor, 123 Digital, SLUDTERA, and Advanced Intellectual Methods. The company pitched an idea to use 3D technology for scanning which will help to close gaps in research, to prevent human error, and collect data in major industries such as health and manufacturing.
In second place was 3Sixty, founded by Kissia Peter. Her company won EC $4,000 worth of cash and prizes from the sponsors. 3Sixty’s innovation is designed to bring a travel destination to tourists through virtual reality. In third place was Bioganics, managed by Kyle Nicholas, who won EC $2,500 worth of cash and prizes. This company seeks to produce a more affordable and eco-friendly form of cooking fuel. The top three competitors also won fast-tracked spots in the Saint Lucia leg of the Entrepreneurship World Cup which will take place in July. This will grant entrepreneurs the chance to represent Saint Lucia in the international leg and possibly win the prize worth US $1 million.
Head judge, Jodi Boodhoo, congratulated the winners and gave them some words of encouragement, “My hope is that everyone who participated in the National Idea Pitch Competition would achieve a change of mindset—where you get fired up about startups, startup investing, and entrepreneurship and you can pass it on to the people around you.”
Boodhoo, with consultation from Invest Saint Lucia’s board of directors, anticipates that the competition will be an annual event. The other five finalists will still benefit from the services of Boost and the connections with their mentors. Invest Saint Lucia continues to stimulate economic sustainability with more emphasis during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Boost is the most recent project which helps to close the gap between startup and having the requirements to access investment facilitation services. Boost is a virtual incubator and accelerator programme which culminates all the key stakeholders for local entrepreneurship expertise and guidance.
In addition to announcing the winners on Wednesday, the agenda included Miguel Trim, deputy team leader for CariSECURE at the United Nations Development Program in the Eastern Caribbean. He introduced the Saint Lucia Business Directory at the ceremony. The platform is a list of all local relevant services and agencies for business startups and entrepreneurs.