NASSAU, BAHAMAS – It’s no easy feat to identify promising companies and entrepreneurs with the strongest potential to change the way we live and work, but The Investment Group (TIG) is on a mission to do just that as interviews are set to commence this week with shortlisted candidates vying for thousands of dollars in a second round of funding from the venture capital fund.
“I’ve been impressed by some of the ideas we have seen,” said Mick Holding, chairman of TIG’s Board of Directors. “They are outside of the box in terms of what people are looking to do. Not everyone will succeed but some of them have got huge potential if it comes off.”
The Investment Group, a $1 million fund, aims to support entrepreneurship and employment by providing seed capital to fledgling companies. In return, it receives a private equity stake in the enterprise.
The fund was established by Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) in 2017, to nurture startups possessing the vision, drive and innovation to succeed but lacking the necessary financing to kickstart their business growth. It is a story BSGC knows all too well having itself been a benefactor of government’s largess eight years ago when company founders Atario Mitchell and Dominic Sturrup needed a hand-up.
The first three recipients receiving varying amounts of undisclosed sums in 2017 were United Data Technologies Limited, K.W. Paving and Global Energy Solutions Limited.
Applications for TIG’s second round of funding closed last September. Although 63 business persons applied with ideas ranging from catering to agriculture to tourism, 20 applications were immediately dismissed due to the lack of a business plan of any description.
“By far the biggest reason for not progressing to the next round was inadequate business plans and lack of financial projections,” said Holding, a former president of Grand Bahama’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Some may have had an idea but not been able to connect that idea to paper and put it into a plan. Many did not include any financial projections which is clearly something that is essential. If you go to a bank or any other financial institution unless you’ve got financial models you are not going to be entertained at all.”
After a first round of scrutiny with fellow board members Fredericka Sturrup, BSGC’s vice president of human resources and training, and Yvette Ingraham, President of 360 Training and Consulting, the trio emerged from rigorous discussions with a shortlist of seven candidates to be interviewed and looked at in even greater detail.
The number was narrowed down further when only four applicants progressed to stage three.
“The first step of stage three will take place this Friday. That is where we invite them back and start to ask them more detailed questions about their business plans,” Holding explained.
“Following on from that we will go into more depth in three areas: financial projections, which is obviously very important; commercial considerations, how well they know their market and competition; and the third area is the structure of the investment.”
Once initiated those discussions are expected to continue over the next few weeks culminating with at least two successful candidates emerging.
“We are looking for people with different ideas. It is innovation that catches our imagination followed by the quality of the applicants themselves,” said Holding. “It’s not just a good idea that we’re looking for and a sound plan, we are also looking to see if the individuals themselves, in our judgement, are able to deliver. You might have a great idea, but you may not be able to execute it.”
One of the finalists is in the agricultural sector, another has export potential.
TIG said it would invest between $50,000 and $150,000 into the winning ventures. Still those numbers are not absolute.
“If someone came in with an excellent idea that required $175,000 or $40,000, we wouldn’t exclude them,” said Holding. “Our objective is to try and help as many as possible with the funds that are available.”