Last year???s winner of the National Innovation Competition, Shannon Clarke has some advice for the 2013 competitors.
???Make sure that it is very clear that your product or service will be creating unique value to the customer and that you have a clear plan for how you will receive payments from the customer,??? said the young man, who is currently a trainee electrical engineer at the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited.
Acknowledging that the competition will prove challenging, he said it was, nonetheless, a big opportunity for persons to focus on completing their business plan and transforming their ideas into reality.
???Do not make the mistake of presenting an innovative idea without clearly identifying a realistic plan through which you will make money,??? the 2012 winner of the Prime Minister???s Award for Innovation and the coveted cash prize of $75,000 for CleverGrocer advised.
A free online shopping assistant, CleverGrocer provides price comparisons across grocery stores in Barbados, and provides retailers with a platform that enables them to engage their customers, before, during and after the shopping experience.
According to the innovator, his idea has since taken off and met with much interest, thanks largely to a showing at BMEX 2013. He said: ???I launched the website (www.clevergrocer.com) at BMEX and received an amazing amount of feedback and excitement from those who visited the booth. I???m working to incorporate some of the suggested ideas, while also finalising the mobile apps for Android and Blackberry.???
The trainee engineer has no doubt that CleverGrocer will be a successful product/service. And, while ironically its success may be said to be closely linked to the economic recession, Mr. Clarke perceives it was related to the fact that his product ???addresses an immediate need that is affecting the livelihood of all Barbadians and is needed not only here, but around the world???.
???It [the economic situation] is a very difficult problem to solve but [CleverGrocer] is also highly valued as a necessity. Around the world, the need to innovate the retail industry, especially grocery shopping, is seen as a billion dollar opportunity,??? opined the 2012 winner as he admitted that the National Innovation Competition presented a great opportunity to fully explore and document his business plan.
Additionally, Mr. Clarke disclosed that it helped him to receive the necessary funds to pay for business and product development as well as marketing, and provided an opportunity to meet other innovators and entrepreneurs, who gave him invaluable advice.
In its short life span, this innovation has made a great impact on the Barbadian psyche and, according to the owner, it holds even more promise for the future.
The trainee engineer, who based this on responses seen to date, said of his brainchild: ???Even though we were one of the few BMEX exhibitors who were showcasing a software product, we had an amazing reception and many persons wanted to pay for it, although it is a free service.
???We are happy to announce that over 420 persons signed up for CleverGrocer during BMEX 2013 and the sign-ups have been continuing steadily ever since. We are looking forward to satisfying these initial users and continuing our roll-out within the coming months.???
Persons interested in participating in the 2013 National Innovation Competition may download application forms from the website www.ncst.gov.bb, and place them in a sealed envelope addressed to the National Council for Science and Technology, Reef Road, Fontabelle, St. Michael, Barbados. They may also be faxed to 228-5765, or scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the first prize of $75,000, the competition also offers second and third prizes of $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.
The deadline for applications is Monday, September 30.