Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2014 Contents JULY 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG11
"How do we differentiate ourselves in the market by spicing
up the mix, and measure our success in an environment where
we are forced to do more with less?"
Brevard Nelson s 2009 article for Communication World,
an international publication from the International Association
of Business Communicators (IABC)), had struck a chord which
resonated with many local marketers and business owners.
It s a dilemma that Chike Farrell and Brevard Nelson, former
schoolmates at St Mary s College, and now business partners,
had been tackling since 2005. Their passion for technology
and fervor around developing the Caribbean, one brand at a
time, brought them together and a clear market opportunity
kept them at it.
Somewhere in 2008, Farrell and Nelson shrugged off their
blue-collar cloaks and donned their entrepreneur capes, leaving
behind their respective jobs at Microsoft (International) and
Guardian Holdings Ltd, as they dove full-time into the pro-
duction of an idea. Six years, a sizeable client portfolio, four
conferences and an in-house development team later, that
idea has evolved into a thriving business: Caribbean Ideas Ltd.
"Back in 2009, the marketing landscape in the Caribbean
was considerably different," Chike explained. In fact, the
Internet penetration rate at the time was a mere 17 per cent.
By 2013, it stood at over 32 per cent, a 15 per cent growth in
just four years. "Marketing budgets were tied to traditional
media channels and it was challenging to get businesses to
understand the value of digital investments."
Farrell said their persistence was tied to their passion for
developing the Caribbean.
"A friend once said that changing the world doesn t happen
in a day and that was essentially what we had been attempting
to do. It would take a whole lot more than a few closed doors
to keep us out of the game," Chike said.
He was right.
In 2011, the duo worked with a four-member team to host
the region s first ever digital conference: Caribbean Digital
Expo. The event delivered a number of significant wins for
the small team. CDX 2011 was the first event to host an
executive from social media giant, Facebook. Jennifer Katulla
was joined on stage by more than 20 speakers and panelists
representing brands from across the region.
The success of the conference drove two others -- Mobiworld
Caribbean and CDX2.0 in 2012 and 2013 as well as positioned
Caribbean Ideas as the strategic co-ordinator responsible for
executing other events, like the Innovation Forum 2013, which
was executed on behalf of the Council for Competitiveness
and Innovation (CCI).
"We re a data-driven organisation," Brevard Nelson, chief
operations officer said.
"Caribbean Ideas is pretty much a living, breathing organism
that responds to changes in the marketing environment,"
Nelson said. "Marketing shifts open doors of opportunity. We
review these trends and apply them to our market, analyse
the solutions that are most applicable and work on testing
and implementing them."
Their direction is often mapped out by global digital trends.
These marketing shifts have led to some big changes to the
brand relying on big data. At the start of 2014, Farrell and
Nelson decided to cement their successes in the digital education
space with a brand new business line. The Knowledge and
Connections Division was rolled out and with it the duo s
latest offering: The Caribbean Marketing Innovation Experience
Farrell described MIX as "local and global marketing knowl-
edge and insights flavoured with a hint of digital innovations
and technology business solutions."
Cordell Lawrence joined the team in 2012. In his role as
chief technology officer, he has leveraged his Medullan and
Teleios experiences to build out a sturdy in-house development
"Having a development team to rely on is like a football
team with a strong midfield," Chike said.
They ve now been able to roll out a "host of digital business
solutions ranging from touch solutions, mobile applications,
custom-social media apps," and been able to "work on a
number of CI incubation projects that are set to drive our
own local market shifts."
Farrell summed it up by saying "global markets are continuing
to evolve and Caribbean markets are no different."
"We seeing an increase in digital innovations that impact
businesses and brands and Caribbean Ideas has a role to play
in helping bridge this gap in our market," Farrell said. "These
are exciting times for companies like us. Market dynamics are
changing the game and creating new opportunities for everyone,
consumers, brands and providers alike. It will be interesting
to see how brands manage with these changes, Caribbean
Ideas will continue to evolve as an organisation and will be
here to serve businesses looking for real time, digital solutions,"
An evolving Caribbean Idea
Market dynamics are
changing the game and
creating new opportunities
for everyone, consumers,
brands and providers alike.
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