Linda Dias, a young entrepreneur from Montserrat, was in Antigua with her father at Epicurean supermarket when she received an email from the organizers of the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Programme (CTEP).
The message informed her that she, out of 50 other entrepreneurs, had just won the Ideation Phase of the competition with her software application, Bodio.
Dias, who is the Chief Architect for the Government of Montserrat and the Executive Director at Aeon Studios Limited, spoke to OBSERVER media on Tuesday about Bodia, a booking entertainment software application that was launched earlier this year.
“My business concept was a mobile app that focused around the entertainment industry … it is a mobile app for musicians and it will help the musicians to network and get hired work, so you can book musicians through the app from around the region,” she said.
According to its website, Bodio “is a multi award-winning mobile app company in the Caribbean with representatives in Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados.
The app “gives musicians, venue operators and event promoters a platform to network while increasing their exposure through marketing to music lovers.”
Dias said the app is still in beta-testing and she hopes persons in the music industry will assist her to further develop the software.
“Bodio, acronym for Booking Directory Online, is not quite in the App Store/Google Play just yet – we are still in beta-testing. So we are looking for feedback from musicians, like instrumentalists, vocalists, music producers and writers to see how we can improve the app so we can have it redeveloped,” she remarked.
Dias – the proud daughter of an Antigua-based musician who goes by the name of Buell Stringsthatsing, and wife of Barbados-based musician Chris Goodridge – received her inspiration for the app from her family.
“They are successful musicians,” she said about her father and husband, “but I have always noticed that even though they are getting a lot of work there is also the low season and sometimes there is a situation where there are people who are looking to hire musicians and there are musicians looking to be hired but there is not a lot of platforms there to connect both.”
After receiving support from her father and her husband about her idea, Dias said she “decided to run with it.”
And run she did — winning in the senior category of the business pitch competition in Montserrat known as #i2LPitch Montserrat, earning a $5,000 prize.
The competition helped refine her business concept after being mentored by Richard Pummell of Workonnex – a human resource app which tests employee satisfaction – and Sandra Baptist of Antigua Barbuda Association of Small Business Owners (ABASBO).
A week after winning the competition, she entered the regional competition, CTEP, and won.
Dias spoke about her feelings after reaching the finals of the competition and eventually wining the Ideation Phase.
“So, I entered [the competition], got through and when I got through to the finals it was great; it was an amazing feeling and winning was absolutely great,” she said.
The Caribbean Tech
Entrepreneurship Programme featured over 90 entrepreneurs from the region with a variety of business concepts, competing in three categories: the Ideation Phase, the Startup Phase, and the Business Validation Phase.
In her own words, she “couldn’t believe it” as she was practically jumping for joy in the aisles of Epicurean Fine Foods and Pharmacy.
“Having heard that I had topped out as number one over fifty business concepts, fifty business teams from around the region; it was absolutely amazing,” she added.
It was also in Antigua where she met up with Chaneil Imhoff, an Antiguan entrepreneur who placed third in the Ideation Phase of the competition.
According to Dias, as she was passing through Antigua, having been on a business trip, Imhoff messaged her through Instagram to congratulate her.
“We exchanged WhatsApp numbers and it just so happened that we were heading to the same location. We met up very briefly, took some photos, we interacted, and we have been chatting on WhatsApp since,” she said, adding that she looked forward to seeing a familiar face when she travels to Barbados for the awards ceremony.
She also had a message for aspiring entrepreneurs in Antigua and the wider Caribbean.
“Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone,” she said. “For me, I am an architect – and I don’t mean a technological architect – I actually do construction architect type work. But I had this idea and I said, ‘you know, why not?’ I did a lot of research, spoke with a lot of people.”
She said, “it is always scary to conceptualize a business idea and you are kind of wondering all the time: ‘will this actually be successful’ and ‘will people actually gravitate towards it’ but the best advice I can give is to just go with it.”
“The whole idea of having a successful business endeavor is to actually be able to appeal to your market, your users. Once your users are okay with what you’ve conceptualized and once you’ve bounced off and gotten feedback from them, then you are on the right track,” she said.
“Just try it, just step out there. I may or may not work but at least you will not have any regrets, once you try it and see where it goes,” she remarked, adding, “Even if you don’t get immediate great feedback, just go back to the drawing board and try again.”
For DJs, live music artistes, vocalists, event promoters and planners, instrumentalists, music producers, music writers, venue operators, such as hotels and restaurants, or anyone who works in the music industry, the app can be found at bodioapp.com.
“If you are a band and your bass guitarist fell sick for whatever unfortune reasons, and you have a gig coming up, you can go on the app, if you don’t know other bass guitarists out there, check out the registry of artistes that are there, you can see all the bass guitarist around the region.
“[Bodio] narrows into your particular location. For example, if you are in Antigua, it will narrow into the bass guitarists in Antigua, you can check out their portfolio, see if there are the right fit, chat with them and maybe invite them for a gig,” she said, adding that a venue operator or event planner can also use the app to find out about what talents are out there.
CTEP is an initiative of the Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank Group in partnership with the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre.
It tailors support for participants according to the stage at which the entrepreneur or firm is currently operating.
CTEP addresses two main problems faced by youth: the lack of appropriate job opportunities and the lack of a regional strategy to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.
CTEP provides regionally relevant capacity-building workshops and critical mentorship support and is focused on stimulating the creation, and supporting the growth, of technology entrepreneurship in the Caribbean Development Bank’s 19 Borrowing Member Countries.