Improve – Troy Hector
“The worst that they could ever tell you is no.”
What inspired your project?
It was a collaboration between Andre George of Antigua and myself. We thought about it and we liked the idea. Initially we wanted to do a Caribbean Mall but we determined that we could only have a limited amount of products, so we decided why not allow people just to put whatever they want for sale. It really kind of came out of me sending back what we would term “big island” goods to Antigua for Andre, car parts mostly. You couldn’t get black cake across there either. I had to send black cake all the time. I think what we really want to do is give the Caribbean what the First World enjoys, that connectivity. Europe has the European Union, the U.S. is one big country and they can quickly and freely move goods. It has made these countries what they are today. If we do that in the Caribbean and move merchants beyond their brick and mortar, we’ll be happy.
What was your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
i2i submission was on the 7th and my dad died on the 1st. I actually had to go to the States and I was planning a funeral while we were submitting. I came back, found out that we won, and Andre moved here in January. The greatest challenge for Island Square was for Andre, having to leave his fiancée, moving to Trinidad, giving up everything for the dream. I sold my car and we used that money to help out. I think that when it comes to challenges, if it matters to you, you’ll just remove them, just keep pushing through.
Where did you find the confidence to apply to the programme?
The worst that they could ever tell you is no. That’s how we went about it. If you don’t believe in your idea, you can’t ask someone else to believe in it because before we even won, Andre was on planes coming to Trinidad twice a month or so up until we submitted to i2i, planning it out. That was expensive but we believed in it.
What advice do you have for entrants?
Do a lot of research. Don’t leave anything uncovered. Do a business plan even if they don’t ask for it. It helps you figure out every step from A to Z. Doing a business plan helped us figure out a lot of things we hadn’t considered. Don’t leave a stone unturned, from how many pencils you are going to need, where you are going to find money for those pencils, month to month operations. Think about your business and see how your model can actually make money.
Troy Hector’s project, Caribbean Market Square, now Island Square is an electronic shopping platform that will exclusively sell Caribbean products from Caribbean merchants and manufacturers.