Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 24th 2015 Contents 6 Friday April 24, 2015 • Issue 177
The fact that the successful networking
gurus of Yo Pro (composed of Trinidadian
Ty Richardson and American Brett Torina)
met through networking is reason enough
to legitimize their ability to bring together
passionate people from around the world
under one unique umbrella.
Setting up Yo Pro is particularly important
because it will serve as a sustainable commu-
nity to anchor the entire region. Trinidad is the
base, the testing hub and the first Yo Pro
community in the region and it will also be the
launching ground of all the products and serv-
ices they intend to offer on a regional scale.
"Besides what we already offer like semi-
nars, networking events and opportunity
fairs, we want to introduce Yo Pro House
which is a place where young professionals
can go to always have a friend to connect
with. So far we've built a sustainable commu-
nity with an ever expanding committee. We
want to start licensing Yo Pro to the regional
community and allow people to create Yo
Pros in their countries but always use
Trinidad as their resource," Ty explained.
With the goal of setting up 75 Yo Pro com-
munities globally in three years, it's hard to
believe that they packed everything into a
duffle bag to set up in Trinidad last year.
"We got to Trinidad and we said for the
next 60 days we're going to set up Yo Pro and
then move on to another a city, but we soon
realized that was not possible," Brett added.
"We thought we could run the entire organ-
ization by sending emails like we would be-
fore, but that model didn't work here; people
wanted to meet us because they like the face
to face connection. So what was supposed to
be 60 days has now turned into 18 months.
We had to adjust the business as it was
premised on Europe and the US, more devel-
oped societies who understood what net-
working was, who understood technology
and more adept to using emails. You
know...people who understood sites like
Linked In and used them daily. But that was-
n't the case here, we just couldn't incorporate
our model into what was happening in
Trinidad. But what we could do was stay here
and understand what it would mean to build
our model in a developing country."
So they set out to understand the market,
culture and the differences in an emerging
economy and a developed one. It forced them
to introduce new products that they never of-
"We never did seminars before but we real-
ized we needed to teach people how to net-
work effectively to be successful. Then we
realized that we were giving people the plat-
form to meet each other. We're teaching
them how to meet each other but we're not
giving them the opportunities that they're
coming for. Thus, we created this new idea of
Opportunity Fairs which are basically a
monthly forum covering a stream of topics.
So you can go to this Fair and find everything
you need about a specific topic. We've been
here building an eco-system for Young Pro-
fessionals. At the end of the day people think
that we just do events, but that's just one
facet of what we do. Our goal is to create an
eco system where every young professional
feels as though they have an instant family, a
support system and a belief system with
which they can do and be and achieve any-
thing they want to. We want to foster eco-
nomic growth, amongst young people, foster
start up incubation in entrepreneurship, foster
a greater sense of personal worth so that
people can impact change in their society."
Ty's involvement in Yo Pro came about
while working in Dublin. After moving there
for work he realized he didn't know anyone
and he was interested in networking with like
minded people who were equally passionate
about life as he was.
"London had this group call European
Young Professionals and these would just get
together and do some really fun events," Ty
recollected. "They did a roof top garden party.
They did a cruise. So I flew over and met with
one of the guys and asked to borrow their
name and if I could take it regional. If I could
start something like this in Dublin I could
make the network that I want to meet."
Thirty days later they started EYP Dublin
which was a concept that involved monthly
innovative, creative, exciting and fun events
for people to get together and network.
"We started with a speed dating network-
ing mixer, the next event was a cocktail mak-
ing class; we also did a Durex testing play
ground. People were really coming to the
events because we started with 130 people
and we never went under that mark. So we
were just conceptualizing cool things with
hardly any money."
After two years he took a look back to see
where the organization had gotten to and re-
alized that they had 800 followers in two
years. And all of this was achieved without a
team, a business model, a structure or a mar-
After four years in Dublin, American Air-
lines decided to close their Dublin office and
gave Ty the option of relocating to either Lon-
don or Dallas, but Ty decided to consider a
third option which was to evaluate all that he
had accomplished with Yo Pro Dublin to see
whether there was a viable business there.
"I hired some guys from the Czech Republic
to analyze what we had been doing for the
last four years and the result was that we
had a viable business model. It was a prof-
itable business that could sustain itself, we
needed to create a digital presence and we
needed to change the name to something
that was translatable worldwide. And after
working with a focus group, Yo Pro was born. I
decided to leave the airline and that's when I
spent three years understanding what a tech
However, the pressures of a company start
up were too great for two of the guys he was
working with so he needed to find more sup-
port. Through a mutual friend he met Brett
and they began working on the Yo Pro project
together looking closely at what was done
before and what they needed to do for the fu-
Ty and Brett plan to set up at least three Yo
Pro communities regionally before heading
out to start again maybe in some other part
of the world.
"Thus far in Trinidad it has been a growth
process and we've found certain individuals
who see the vision and see the mission and
have taken it with us to different areas of
Trinidad," Brett said, proudly.
"It's all about finding the right people.
We've somehow been able to attract the
right audience. Yo Pro is psychographic; it's all
about attitude -- that's what we look for. If
you are driven, motivated or ambitious, you
can be a hair dresser or an accountant -- we
want you in our community," Brett concluded.
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