Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 9th 2013 Contents RAPHAEL JOHN-LALL
There will not be strong growth
in the hotel industry in 2014, says
Fred Chin Lee, chairman, Nor-
"The growth in rooms in the
hotel industry will be slow because
the tourism product is not in place,"
Chin Lee said in an interview at
the launch of Hotel Normandie's
Breakfast Buffet, St Ann's.
"The international promotion of
destination T&T is not there and
falls short of what should be done.
That is on the room aspect of the
hotel industry. I was thinking of
room expansion for Normandie but
I changed that plan and opted for
renovations of the hotel instead."
Chin Lee expects "more activity"
on the food and beverage side of
the industry in 2014 as he said the
economy should do better.
"The food and beverage side of
the industry will be more active
than what took place before the
economy slowed down during the
global economic downturn. T&T
is spending about TT$50 billion to
$60 billion right now in the econ-
omy and it should have the trick-
le-down effect on the domestic
economy which will help the hotel
industry," he said.
He said T&T cannot continue
to depend on oil and gas as the
main source of revenue for the
country and must diversify into
"People must look at the island
of Aruba as they had a refinery
there which was closed down. They
then introduced a tourism master
plan and in 15 months they reduced
their high unemployment rate and
even had to import labour after.
This is a model T&T can look at
in terms of how it can expand into
new areas. No country in the
Caribbean has the talent or
resources like T&T," he said.
He said T&T's hotel industry
survived the worst of the global
"Prior to the 2011 financial crisis
there was some expansion in T&T
like Courtyard By Marriott Hotel
and Holiday Inn and then there
were the smaller guest houses
expanding. Then came the slow-
down in the industry. After that it
became competitive which trig-
gered the upgrade at our hotel," he
Despite the challenges, Chin Lee
is optimistic about the economy
and said work continues on
upgrading the Normandie Hotel.
He has also hired Ali Khan, for-
mer general manager of Hilton
Trinidad, who is now special advis-
er at the Normandie Hotel.
"We have been upgrading the
hotel for the past two years. Ali
Khan coming here is part of the
upgrade. Then there is the physical
upgrade. We have already spent
TT$ 120,000 on refurbishing the
bathroom area. Then there is the
air-conditioning and the bathroom
areas which are being renovated
right now," he said.
Chin Lee expects business to fare
better than previous years as the
hotel industry heads into Carnival
"I think December will be better
than last year and for the Carnival
period of January to March it will
be better. I have energised managers
here at the hotel who will open up
the Carnival programmes," he said.
Chin Lee predicts
growth in 2014
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 9, 2013
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Caribbean people are full of ideas
that could make a great business or
change the world. Too often, however,
there is not enough time, resources,
connections or skills to bring those
dreams to life.
Startup Weekend was designed with
just that hurdle in mind. Backed by the
US-based non-profit Kauffman Foun-
dation, the event debuted in the
Caribbean in touching down in Haiti
after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake dev-
astated that territory. Since then, it has
been rolled out in Puerto Rico (October
2011, Oct 2013), Trinidad and Tobago
(May 22-24), Jamaica (Oct 4-6), Mar-
tinique (Nov 29 to Dec 1).
Startup Weekend brings dreamers
together with people with the technical
and business skills to turn those dreams
into successful small businesses---all in
just three days.
Wikipedia describes a startup as "a
company, partnership or temporary
organisation designed to search for a
repeatable and scalable business model."
Some 82 startup enthusiasts showed
up at One Woodbrook Place on
November 22 for T&T's second Startup
Weekend. Twenty-six of them pitched
their ideas in 60 seconds to an audience
of fellow startup participants. Each
pitch sought to explain the core business
idea and outline what skills a team
would need to in order to bring the
vision to life.
One participant, David Hamilton, lit
up the crowd when he rapped his one-
minute pitch about an idea for a music
streaming site (We Music).
Once the pitches were made, the
next step was the self-selection of the
most viable ideas. This was done very
quickly by crowd voting, a process
intended to simulate the much slow-
er---and arguably, more devastating---
real-world process of customer vali-
dation. In the startup world, generally
only the ideas with the most traction
Colin Ali, of TriniTrolley, reminded
the attendees of some struggles that
typically await startups, but encouraged
them to stick to what they believed in
and persevere through the difficult
times to achieve their dreams. The top
ten ideas with the most votes were
announced and teams formed around
them, and the work began.
Over the course of the weekend, par-
ticipants had access to a dozen or so
coaches who gave advice on marketing,
legal, business strategy, graphic design
and software development, as the teams
tried to refine their core ideas and build
workable business models around them.
Startup Weekends are known to be
intense, as teams must learn to work
together from the very first day, lever-
aging individual strengths into a group
effort, to nurture one central business
idea until it is ready to be presented
on the evening of the final day.
As one participant, Ismail Barton
said, "Quite a lot can be accomplished
in a short period of time. It's easier to
start a business than most people
The teams made their presentations
on Sunday evening to a panel of judges
that included Derek Chin, of Movi-
eTowne; Derrick Lewis, of Island Peo-
ple; Kim Mallalieu, of the University
of the West Indies; and Claude Mar-
shall, of DMS Digital and Byte Acad-
E-Sports Caribbean League (ESCL),
a company aiming to standardise digital
and online gaming in the Caribbean
by hosting tournaments and ranking
users, emerged as first-place winners.
"It has pushed me to actually start.
I have been only thinking and procras-
tinating with the idea. Now that I have
people watching my back I am forced
to get it off the ground," said Kevin
Lee-A-Ping of ESCL.
In second place was the Play Whe
on the Go team, whose company aimed
to allow users to play the game from
the convenience and comfort of their
mobile phones, anywhere in the world.
TOUT, a mobile application aimed
to make people's daily commute easier,
won third place, while Shabbac Sweet
Potato Flour won the audience prize.
Capitalising on Global Entrepreneur-
ship Week, which ran from November
15 to 24, more than 200 cities across
the world also hosted their own Startup
Weekends from which teams would be
selected to compete with each other
in an international competition called
the Global Startup Battle. From T&T,
two teams submitted video presenta-
tions of their ideas to the Global Startup
Battle: ESCL and Team Ah See, whose
company aimed to create a mobile
application to improve communication
with the hearing impaired.
Events like Startup Weekend are not
a final destination but a point of depar-
ture for entrepreneurs. ESCL has already
started preparing for its first gaming
tournament, which is scheduled to take
place in the near future.
Business dreams come
true at Startup Weekend
Fred Chin Lee
Police officers assigned to the Tunupuna Police
Station are now investigating the killing of a
homeless man by a hit-and-run driver.
According to police, the man identified as
Andrew Griffith was knocked down around 2.30
yesterday morning on the Eastern Main Road,
Tunapuna. Investigators are calling on the driver
to come forward as they have recovered closed-
circuit television cameras and believe that an arrest
Griffith died on impact, police said, and was
hit a few feet away from the police station. His
death pushed the road fatality toll to 136 for the
Homeless man killed in hit-and-run
Startup Weekend Trinidad and Tobago participants, facilitators and judges
take a photo call moments at the end of the three-day event, which took place
at One Woodbrook Place, Woodbrook, from November 22nd to 24th.
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