On Thursday, the Accelerate VI program held a virtual demo day showcasing the seven tech businesses that participated in its 2020 cohort.
The program is an initiative of the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park, an economic development organization that attracts technology-based businesses to the U.S. Virgin Islands. While participants are from all around the world and region, 80 percent of businesses that have participated in the program are local.
Accelerate VI is a structured, three-month accelerator program designed to help early-stage companies grow and scale their business from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The program supports entrepreneurs who are building technology solutions that address today’s most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges.
The benefits of the Accelerate VI program are access to capital, mentorship, office space, partnership credits, curriculum and education, export promotion and technical assistance and legal office hours.
The demo day was a two-part virtual event. In the morning the presenters went live on Accelerate VI’s website. The second part was a question and answer session later in the evening.
The seven businesses participating in this year’s cohort were CareWindow, Everyday Carnival, Flyion, K-Mill 360, Ocean Prospects, Squeeze Cash and Virgin Islands Video Game Network.
CareWindow was founded by Chip Buck to provide objective support for families that need to find the best care facilities for their loved ones when under pressure. The platform would benefit families because it would provide a safe environment to research and inquire, and also save providers from paying commissions for customers while having positive interactions.
CareWindow has created an independent rating system from reviews by family members of people that have been put in assisted living facilities, employees and professional care managers in assisted living facilities. They also plan to lower the customer acquisition cost with a software-based solution for care facilities.
CareWindow was launched in January 2020 and the site has already received more than 3,000 reviews. CareWindow makes money when care facilities subscribe to be featured on the site and take advantage of the provided tools.
In the Q&A session, Buck said he was surprised about the number of reviews they were getting from employees of the facilities.
Leon Perkins is the owner and founder of Everyday Carnival, an app that focuses on keeping people in the loop with all the information about more than 100 Carnivals. A lot of people travel to different islands to participate in Carnival, but don’t know all the information about the events.
The app has a global Carnival calendar, a place to purchase event tickets and sends notifications with updates on relevant changes.
One major issue that Everyday Carnival addresses is that it prevents scams as it provides security measures to make sure tickets are purchased securely.
Flyion CEO Yann Barbarroux gave the presentation, saying that Flyion’s main goal is to address the fact that travelers are unhappy with the claims process and don’t trust insurance companies.
Travel insurance is inefficient, he said, as only 11 percent of travelers get compensated through the claims process, and COVID-19 has caused travel insurance to be purchased at a surging rate of 680 percent.
The company uses machine-based learning to identify which flights are likely to be delayed and which flights a passenger should purchase insurance. They also automate the claims when you are eligible and use blockchain technology – a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack or cheat the system – to get the payment to you in less than an hour, making it effortless and effective to deal with the process.
This was the first business that used blockchain to participate in the Accelerate VI program.
Kendall Holmes founded K-Mill 360, which he called a twist on the common treadmill. K-Mill 360 allows the user to move forward, backward, sideways and in diagonal patterns, while facing the console.
Unlike traditional treadmills, which focus only on forward motion, K-Mill 360 is designed to utilize 360 degrees of movement via the rotation mechanism of the platform.
The design is patented, and Holmes called it a more efficient way to burn calories than the traditional treadmill. An independent study found that users on the K-Mill spend 57 percent more energy than walking at the same speed.
The plan is to distribute the K-Mill on the website and build awareness at trade shows. The K-Mill will cost $4,500.
When asked about how he can protect the idea, Holmes said he has seven patents that cover any treadmill that turns.
Ocean Prospects was founded by Allison Bourne-Vanneck, and she describes it as LinkedIn meets Instagram for high school athletes in the Caribbean trying to get recruited for college athletics. The region has proven to produce top-level athletes, but still has the problem of attracting college coaches, Bourne-Vanneck said.
Athletes will be able to build profiles on the app’s platform, including their highlight reels. College coaches can then subscribe to watch the videos and reach out to the athletes they are interested in.
Ocean Prospects plans to host two college combines in the territory a year.
During her pitch, she used examples of prominent athletes from the Caribbean who had a hard time getting recruited.
Kenrick Quashie is a co-founder of Squeeze Cash, a company with the goal of making money transactions easier in the Caribbean and Latin American regions. Squeeze Cash hopes to grow into a virtual and more efficient version of Western Union.
Quashie said the business would address three problems in the Caribbean. It would lower the cost per transaction for businesses that want to move away from cash but don’t want to pay the high fee. It would address the lack of e-commerce solutions in the region. And it saves the time that you would spend in line to do a physical transaction.
The difference between Squeeze Cash and Venmo is that Venmo does not work in non-U.S. territories in the Caribbean.
Virgin Islands Video Game Network
The Virgin Islands Video Game Network was founded by twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Isacc. They had the idea after realizing there was a lack of community for video gamers in the territory, so they decided to create their own.
They have hosted gaming events, such as game release parties and tournaments. They also sell merchandise and host a weekly podcast to build a sense of community with gamers.
Esports is a fast-growing industry, and the brothers estimated that 25 percent of the people in the USVI can be considered gamers.
When they start to increase revenue, they hope they can start an Esports league in the territory and build arcades and gaming lounges.
More information on the businesses and video of the full pitches can be found online at Accelerate VI.