Originally published in the Jamaica Observer

Erica Wynter remains unfazed by the daunting statistics for start-up companies such as hers – that up to 50 per cent of them fail within the first five years.

Minutes after collecting her Jamaica Observer Mogul in the Making award at the Courtleigh Auditorium as one of the Three to Watch, Wynter says the programme has renewed her confidence in her business, C&E Innovational Services.

“Tonight was something of great value to me, because this basically says that I am doing something right,” Wynter tells The Jamaica Observer, in between congratulatory hugs and kisses from well-wishers, among the 400 guests packed inside the “cinema style” auditorium.

“I believe in (C&E Innovational Services), but it’s never enough for you alone to believe. This has motivated me to push further with my plans,” she says.

Wynter was selected as a ‘mogul in the making’ by an expert panel, comprised of Observer CEO and deputy chairman Adam Stewart; Restaurants of Jamaica (owner of KFC) marketing manager Tina Matalon; Ambassador Patrick Casserly; Scotiabank’s Patsy Latchman-Atterbury and Mayberry Investments boss Christopher Berry. Wynter founded C&E in 2009. The company offers services for small businesses, including accounting, taxation and payroll solutions.

The newspaper’s business journalists selected Angelica Barrett, principal of cleaning service provider Glad Helpers.

 

Dissatisfied with the cleaning services available on the market, Barrett started Glad Helpers less than six months ago. The company sends at least two workers to each propertiy it cleans, to ensure that quality is maintained. Glad Helpers has over 20 commercial and residential customers and, according to Barrett, the business has benefited from a spike in interest due to its involvement in the Mogul in the Making programme.

“With Mogul in the Making, we have gotten the word out,” she says enthusiastically. “More persons now know who we are and are willing to work with us.”

The exposure for Glad Helpers is especially important as the company has found it difficult to allocate enough of its limited funds towards advertising, she says.

The Observer Reader’s Choice award went to Alex Morrissey, who runs Jamaicansmusic.com, with more than 3,500 votes in an online poll.

Unlike most other participants, Morrissey’s Jamaicansmusic.com already had lots of exposure before its involvement with the Observer’s start-up series. The website has over 300,000 views each month and has one of the most popular local fan pages on Facebook. The site provides visitors with access to the work of almost 1,000 artistes who do “Jamaican music”. The artistes are charged up to US$10 ($870) monthly for their work to be featured on the site.

However, despite the website’s pre-existing popularity, Morrissey says the programme has helped him gain recognition in corporate Jamaica, a previously untapped market for the company.

“I am grateful to everyone who voted for me and thankful to the Observer for choosing the story of Jamaicansmusic.com to highlight in the Mogul in the Making program,” Morrissey said from Trinidad & Tobago, where he had a business engagement.

“Our awareness in Jamaica before this programme was mostly in the entertainment and tech communities. Being spotlighted in the program has helped our branding in the business sector.

“We have been getting a lot of interest from corporate Jamaica, especially in our social media consulting services.”

Morrissey, 23, says the company will be focusing on social media consultancy in the upcoming year and plans a site relaunch “with some great innovative and interactive features as well as build up the digital distribution.”

The gala event on Wednesday was streamed live on the Jamaica Observer website and featured a question-and-answer session in which nominees and members of the public got to ask questions of the panel.

Equipped with fresh knowledge from their interactive session with more established business minds, Barrett and Wynter – Morrissey was unable to attend the ceremony due to his overseas engagement – are eager to use some of the teachings in the management of their businesses.

Barrett, embracing advice put forward by Jamaica Observer CEO Stewart, says that promotion will play a bigger role in her business going forward.

“My immediate plan right now is to do more marketing and advertising,” she says. “It’s just for us now to put in the extra effort.”

Wynter put great value on a suggestion by KFC’s Tina Matalon about how to handle the critical issue of human resources.

“Hire slow and fire fast,” says Wynter, recalling Matalon’s advice. “People can take down your business. That is something we try not to compromise on.”

Fortunately for the Three to Watch, they have access to that bank of knowledge at anytime. Among the prizes they received was mentoring, if needed, from the panel of experts