written by owen on 2011-Dec-01.
What I learnt from the SRC/PIOJ: 'Innovate or Die' Panel Discussion held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011;
Services instead of products
Basically the only thing investers will fund are service industry activities. They are very easy and are of little risk to investers. Avoid anything physical, because it would require too much initial investment and the risk of failure is too much for the local market.
Food, Herbs and Food Additives
Do not even think of producing anything that is taken internally or are considered to be a medicine or food additive. It is simply too risky and investers are not willing to take a chance on anything that is removely difficult or requires a large amount of human testing or research. You are on your own.
Outsource your labour to other countries
At some point you will have to leave Jamaica. Find a country overseas for your factory where there is cheap labour and lower electricity rates. If you want to compete in the global market you simply cannot physically operate in Jamaica - its just too expensive.
Go big or go home
Avoid markets which are dominated by bigger companies because there is simply no protection for you in the global economy. The only way to compete is through efficiency, and if you are not as efficient as a multi-billion dollar company you might as well not try because your idea (if it is profitable) will be stolen in an instant.
The Jamaican Consumer Society
Avoid targeting the local consumer base in any large scale, at least in the long run, it will not support you. The Jamaican people are conditioned to buy overseas products in fancy packaging. Provide a service that is attached to foriegn product such as software apps, cellphone repairs or auto-mobile repairs, invest in fancy-high quality packaging. Build your customer base quickly and watch the market closely.
Better not to wait on the government to help you out. Government policies may do you more harm than good and will probably take 20 years to come to reality ( fruition ). The government is busy and is probably spending their money on more important things. You will have to be creative without putting yourself into too much debt - nothing tried - nothing done. Register your company and get the appropriate licenses for your operation, it may take a while and seem rather haphazard but at least you will reduce the chance of you getting raided and locked up by the police. Pay your taxes.
Innovation is a tool. Stop doing the same thing over and over. Invest money in a research department and encourage employees to suggest ideas on improving efficiency and creating new products and services. Research is a investment, you may not see results today or tommorow but when you strike gold the returns will be 10 fold. Do not be afraid to try something new because you are never sure when the next iPad will come out and you will not be able to afford the USD to buy one.