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Are you a disruptor?

I guess the first question is “what is a disruptor?” – (and no not that loud guy who butts into every conversation or the jerk who turns on music in the library) a disruptor in the business sense. To disrupt is to radically change an industry, business operating model or wholesale change the way people interact with an industry by introducing a new product or service that creates a new market. The disruptor is the person or company that leads the change or transformation of a product or service. Facebook radically changed the way people interact with one another. In the Bermudian context Easy Park disrupted the way that people pay for and monitor parking within the City of Hamilton.

Bermuda is currently faced with a challenge as it relates to the future viability of its economy. As technology and the speed of connectivity progress, large companies have the ability to seamlessly process transactions in lower cost jurisdictions. That is a fancy way of saying what one phrase sums up quite succinctly “outsourcing & redundancies”. Similarly, other jurisdictions like Ireland and Cayman are enacting policies that are providing stiff competition for Bermuda in the offshore business market.

Bermuda Tourism Authority has laid out the challenge for entrepreneurs to create new products that will increase “heads in beds” and will provide financing, marketing and analytical support to assist in developing new ventures. A challenge accepted by various entrepreneurs who have stepped up to the plate to revitalise our tourism product.

The question remains however, who are the disruptors? Who are the individuals and/or businesses that are creating new markets and streams of revenues for Bermuda? Where are the entrepreneurs who are breaking norms and developing truly innovative ways of approaching global business. Bermuda led the charge in the development of destination tourism, it also led the charge in the development of re-insurance/(off-shore business) which are now the 2 main pillars of our economy. What will we lead the charge in next, what industry will we disrupt to form the third pillar and fourth pillar of our economy?

Are you a disruptor? If so, then start disrupting!

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Reframing Entrepreneurship in Bermuda

When I ask what is an entrepreneur, the most common response is a small business or a vendor, but where would Richard Branson fit into that response? Of course, I strongly believe in the power of small business as a vehicle for socio-economic mobility, empowerment through self-employment and filling niche market needs, however I believe that a reframing of the conversation in Bermuda is necessary. Some question if Bermuda compares with the rest of the world. Whilst we may have a nascent start-up educational system, we are world leaders in entrepreneurship in other fields. We must believe in our collective and individual strengths, we must understand where we are world leaders and we must celebrate our creators, our risk-takers, our market disruptors, our entrepreneurs!

Events such as Global Entrepreneurship Week hosted in November every year does a great job in celebrating business creation. We are the host country with the highest participation per capita in both events and partners, consistently beating out other jurisdictions both large and small.  Our young talent is as creative as any. Just this year Bermudians Conor Burns and EJ Burrows beat out world-wide competition to win the Future Agro Challenge. Their idea was innovative, their application of technology was brilliant and their business model had almost no application in Bermuda, but was scalable worldwide. Small island, big thinking. In the last month, we held the island’s first Start-up Weekend. Closely held ideas that were starving for air were allowed out into the open where they flourished. Participants and organizers alike were allowed to peek behind the curtain and see what is possible when ambitious thinkers were allowed to collide and create.

For as small an island as we are, many are not aware of the global innovations that have emanated from our IB sector. It was a group of big thinking Bermudians over 30 years that understood what our assets as a country were and managed to leverage them turning Bermuda into the Reinsurance Capital of the world. As a jurisdiction we continue to innovate in this market. Just now Britain has finally passed a law to try and imitate our success with Insurance Linked Securities. Bermuda epitomizes the fast moving, flexible entrepreneur and it has taken Britain almost 5 years to figure out how to respond. International Business is a convenient descriptor for the reinsurance and related industries, however I feel it is limiting in many aspects. At the tech awards during Global Entrepreneurship Week, FinTech company Trunomi was celebrated for its innovative solution to Know Your Client and Data Sharing challenges in the financial industry.

We are in a pivotal period in our island’s history. I have full faith that our entrepreneurs will lead the charge in our recovery. I challenge all of you that call Bermuda home to think big. We live in a world economy, on an island with world-class communications networks and an impressive professional services support network. Like Conor and EJ, don’t limit your ideas just because they may not apply to Bermuda. Technology allows even folks who live 1000 kilometres at sea to scale with incredible ease. I challenge every entrepreneur to consider scalability in everything you do. Our economy is based on attracting foreign capital. If your company can attract even one foreign dollar, you are helping support the recovery. Entrepreneurs rise up, your country is counting on you!

Originally posted at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/reframing-entrepreneurship-bermuda-nick-kempe?trk=mp-reader-card

Nick Kempe

Nick Kempe

Contributor

Chair, Bermuda Economic Development Corporation