Finally! The long awaited day came and Converge did not disappoint. They were unconventional and brought a new experience to Jamaica. Converge took us to the rustic terrace of Cellar8 in Manor Park Plaza for their art showcase. On site was ReBlink, an augmented reality experience that transforms the way we view and interact with art and had art pieces from the Art Gallery of Ontario that were brought down for the event. Through the ReBlink App, patrons could hear music and see the art on display come to life. One of the featured artist was Jamaica-based, Ceej Arts, whose pieces were made interactive with the Artivive App, which is an app that worked similarly to ReBlink. Designer and illustrator, Samantha Hay, displayed her brand, The Jamecca Motif and had calendars, daily planners and gift tags on sale.
The Converge: Tech and Culture Summit successfully achieved their goal of melding tech and culture. The conference day had an interesting, educational and inspirational twist. Each segment was carefully curated so that attendees had an even blend of tech, culture and business topics. We were held in the spacious Courtleigh Auditorium, decorated beautifully by Blueprint Consulting. I was extremely inspired and each segment left me with many take aways, which will be listed below:
‘Beyond the Hype - The Future of Technology’
With co-Founder of Next Gen Creators, Nicholas Kee, as the moderator and two panelists, Bevon James King, Partner of Disrupt Ventures and Egbert Von Frankenburg, CEO of Knightfox App Designs. They spoke about technology as a mean of behavioural change in the Jamaican society. Devices like traffic cameras will enable the prosecution of persons who break the law, and overtime reduce the number of people breaking the law.‘League of Extraordinary Women in Tech & Culture’
For this panel, Ingrid Riley, CEO of Silicon Caribe, was the moderator and the panelists were: Stacey-Ann Hines, Strategic Planner for the ICD Group, Dr. Deborah Gordon, Managing Director of Ink & Vision Ltd, and Iset Sankofa, Music DJ, Producer, Curator of Sankofa Sessions. Hines brought up an important point: that Jamaica is at a tipping point towards the digital age and there are a lot of small impactful things happening in the government sector, private sector and with entrepreneurs. Though, we’re not fully prepared for it, in Jamaica there’s currently no formal policy that speaks to the convergence in tech and culture, explained Gordon.
With what we have here, what is next?
Iset said we’re offering a cultural experience. Value should not be limited to that of the monetary. “Culture is currency” so it can mean something to someone else and like currency, we trade it. Gordon encouraged us to continue doing what we’re doing and organize it in a way that becomes efficient. Hines added to Gordon’s point that we should create opportunities for each other as we need to be collaborative in these industries.
‘Art of Negotiation - How to Get What You’re Worth’
Co-Founder of Next Gen Creators, Ja’dan Johnson, was the moderator for this panel and the panelists were: Naomi Garrick, CEO of Garrick Communications, Kemal Brown, CEO of Digital Global Marketing, Jermaine Henry, CEO of FlowFacts and Dionne Paulson, Finance Manager of the Branson Center. In deciding how much to charge, Henry said have a standardized rate then think about the client and what they want and assess the future relationship with the client so as to determine the price. Brown said pricing is tied to the faith in yourself, in what you offer and taking a risk. Garrick said know the stage of the business that you’re in and know your ideal client who will pay what your worth. Paulson rounded it up by saying to try tiered pricing as well as negotiating the pricing.
‘Little Country -Big Tech’
The Little Country - Big Tech panel featured Lianne McNaughton, Founder of Youth Can Do I.T., who was the moderator, with Bianca Welds, Founder of L’Attitude Studios and Trevor Forestt, CEO of 876 Technology Solutions, as the panelists. “Jamaica hasn’t decided what we’re gonna be good at in technology” said Forestt, and I had to put that in cause I felt that. The panelists went on to say, “Failure is bad” is taught in school and as such investors don’t want to put money behind something that may fail. Welds said corporate collaborating with entrepreneurs will come around. To grow, they may need innovative ideas from outside minds. We’re starting to see that slowly but surely here.
One of the Keynote speakers was Debbie Bissoon, CEO of Bissoon Productions, and one thing she said that was really important to me was, “There is a space and there is a demand for our culture.”
The other Keynote speaker was John Henry, VC Partner at Harlem Capital, and he said, “Managing the upswings and the downswings is entrepreneurship, because motivation comes and goes.” Figure it out… Stick to the journey and fight for your business, remember the reason you started it. Keep at it and develop your expertise.
‘Their Perspective - The Future of Entertainment’
For the final panel, the line up included Sharine Taylor, Editor in Chief of BASHY Magazine, Gemmar Mcfarlane, CEO of Gemmnation Studios, Habibi Bailey, Managing Director of Wengikofia Consultancy, Jean Andre Lawrence, Producer JLL, and Najeeb Spence, Musician and Attorney at Law, and the moderator was Angelique Virtue. The sub-theme of this discussion was balance. Creatives need to have a balance in creating their art and managing their business, two halves of a whole for a creative entrepreneur. Bailey warned us not to create just for money, as we’ll end up resenting it. It was advised that persons need to know when to take a break and have a moment of self-care. A parting note by JLL was, “Think of things in the long term. Some projects are about building relationships.”
Converge was a great experience and I’m sure the patrons, entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs left with inspiration to hold on to their million dollar ideas and stick to it through the ups and the downs. I learned a lot from the conference and I appreciated the culture panels! Excited to see what Converge 2019 brings!
Cover photo (source)
Rashida Grant is a Jamaican-born writer, currently residing on the island. She's a Journalism student at university, and a lifestyle blogger on her three year old site, 876Lover. On her blog she brings a piece of Jamaica to the world, through event reviews, music reviews, and other literary pieces.