dwayne samuels

Innovation…even from an island.

Posted on November 11, 2013

Innovation is everything. Even in Jamaica.


The only way for stagnant industries to become dynamic, shareholders to earn tremendous returns on their investments and for the world to advance technologically is through innovation.

Opportunities and great ideas come from everywhere, and being an entrepreneur from the Caribbean (Jamaica) it is often (mistakenly) assumed that inhabitants from the most remote places from the world aren’t as creative, don’t have access to information and couldn’t possibly innovatively resolve some the world’s most active problems.

In building Grik.ly I believe that people have come to see that Jamaica is not just the home of reggae or fast runners, but much like the rest, a talent pool which houses some of the world’s most dynamic thinkers. Grik.ly (available for Android and Windows Phone) is a hybrid phonebook that stays dynamically updated when any contact changes their number, email address or work location. It gives you the ability to move your phonebook to any phone you want and  gives you the ability to share your details easily, just like a business card Although at times feeling long, it has indeed been a great journey in building this company, with opportunities to partake at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (Kuala Lumpur); speak at the World Bank Group Youth Summit (Washington D.C.) and pitch in Moldova at the VentureOut Finals in Chisinau being the last three of my to-do list being crossed out in October. But these are some of the rewards of sticking out a sometimes overwhelming experience – one that many entrepreneurs are often not prepared for.

No man is an island. Being an entrepreneur is a tough job anywhere you are in the world and in Jamaica the story is the same. Many start on the entrepreneurial journey but quickly jump off because they were too dazed by the work load. They believed that they could do it all by themselves. However, for any business to have the potential to thrive it requires support. Mentors and proper advice are essential when venturing into an unknown territory, and we at Xormis decided before starting anything we would do it the right way.

We spent 6 months planning and seeking mentors before we started work on Grikly. We met our first mentor, Marcelle Smart, manager of Microsoft Jamaica, at a conference. We pitched our idea and asked for a meeting the following week. After the meeting she was really inspired with what we wanted to accomplish and she wanted to play a vital role in getting us there. Because of this, we were able to sign a partnership with Microsoft and she became a part of our advisory board. You could imagine the value that her 20 years’ experience in customer and business development brought to the startup – as we had no business experience at the time.

To further cushion our prospects of success we attended the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship in Jamaica to gain knowledge of practical entrepreneurial skills. People often forget that the idea is only the starting point of the journey – but the skills to harness the potentials of the solution need to be developed. We went through a 12 week crash course (upon the advice of our lawyer) whereby we grasped how to basically run a company. The individuals that surround the Xormis team play a huge role to the success of this story.

There are various levels in this entrepreneurial endeavour whereby young entrepreneurs need to be honest with their practical knowledge and capabilities to support their business interest. By being true to yourself at every point you are able to adequately adjust your position and make provisions for your short commings. Nobody likes failure. Thus there are things which you could do to help prevent. Innovation, knowledge, passion and team is all you need to get there.

Signed straight from Jamaica,

Dwayne Samuels.