Techstars Company Delivers the Goods
If you’re an American, you probably take for granted the ability to have almost any product you want delivered to your doorstep in a few days. Not so in the Caribbean, where shoppers go through as many as eight steps to achieve the same result — and pay a higher cost.
Kadion and Tennyson Preston, brothers and entrepreneurs from Jamaica, are working to change all that with their startup business, CaribShopper.
The Miami-based company is one of 10 participants in Techstars Atlanta 2018 class, where they’re getting valuable insights from professional mentors and undergoing training on how to launch and scale a successful business. Kadion said the program is “probably one of the most fulfilling entrepreneurial things I have done.”
“We still haven’t really grasped the level of help they are offering, because we are so used to doing things on our own,” Kadion said. “It’s weird, but wonderful having someone outside your immediate team thinking about your business.”
The Preston brothers said their idea was born from necessity and inspiration through their mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Her dream was to bring greater access to the Caribbean market. She didn’t quite get there…. But we are picking up where she left off,” Tennyson said. Also, each time they traveled home, they were bombarded with requests from friends and relatives to bring products from the U.S. back for them. Such requests have become a common nuisance for travelers from the region, the Prestons said.
Why It’s Arduous
Currently the process to order items online from the Caribbean is arduous and expensive because most online retailers won’t accept a Caribbean customer’s form of payment or deliver to the region. Customers usually buy a product and have it shipped to a freight forwarding address. That freighter then weighs and prices the cost of delivery to the customer’s country. Once the product arrives in the shopper’s country, it is then subject to additional customs fees before it can be delivered.
“It gives you a sense of not belonging to the world,” said Tennyson. “This is a meaningful mission. We break down the borders so Caribbean consumers are treated as well as anybody else.”
The CaribShopper Difference
At CaribShopper, customers can shop once on the online platform, which calculates the full price and delivers the product straight to their door. Shoppers can use their local credit card (although only 18 percent of Caribbean consumers have access to credit cards), or shop online using vouchers they’ve purchased with cash at one of 12,000 convenience stores scattered across the region.
Demo Day Approaching
The culmination of the Techstars program is fast approaching: Demo Day is Oct. 15. At the event, company founders pitch their business plan to hundreds of potential investors and community supporters. For more about the 2018 Techstars Atlanta class, click here.
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