Joe Pires Jr.'s business experience started at age 5, when he began working various jobs at his
father's Trinidad-based company during school holidays. The company, Caribbean Chemicals and
Agenices Limited (CAA), was founded by Joe Pires Sr. in 1966.
In 1984, after graduating from the University of Guelph, Canada, with a major in Agriculture Mechanisation and a minor in Horticulture, Joe returned to Trinidad to join CAA. Following the death of his father in 1993, Joe became the Managing Director of CAA at age 30. Since then, the company has expanded its operations beyond Guyana and Trinidad; it now has offices in Suriname and Jamaica, exporting to countries across the Caribbean, including Haiti, Aruba, and the Bahamas.
As a a serial entrepreneur, Joe has started and acquired more than 35 companies over the last 25 years, including well-known brands like 51 Degrees, Bowen Boats, Island Beer Chill and Grill, Samurai Restaurant, and Bottlestop, to name a few.
Joe has also served on the boards of many organisations, such as First Citizens Bank, Vemcott, Junior Achievement, and The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce where he was vice president. He continues to develop local and regional agriculture by sitting on various associated boards and investing in agriculture-related businesses.
He bases his business approach on the precept that we learn from our mistakes and that in the end, everything ultimately works out for the best.
"Everything always works out for the best...ALWAYS!"
To what do you most attribute your success?
Hard work, gut feelings and good people
Even before his many accomplishments in business, Sheldon proved himself as a person who excelled at anything he put his mind to. With a passion for sport and the outdoors, he tried his hands at both Cricket and Football where he surpassed many of his peers. He was elected to try out for the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket team while also being a representative for the South Zone's Regional Cricket Team. Simultaneously, his affections for excellence did not end with sport; as a teenager, he engaged in many other youth development programs such as Junior Achievement and President's Award Scheme, both of which were tailored for the young, incipient business mind.
Trinidad-born Sheldon Stephen is the owner and founder of the Lollabee Group of companies, which
boasts an impressive portfolio of businesses.
Sheldon's entrepreneurial journey began in 2003, when he founded Lollabee Cellular, now one of the largest telecom dealers in the country. He then went on to establish Lollabee Entertainment in South Trinidad, the company responsible for planning and executing large-scale events such as 'Glo' and 'Xperience'.
As is the case for many of the companies he would go on to create, entering the entertainment industry allowed Sheldon to identify gaps in the local market; one business venture always presented an opportunity for another. Lollabee Entertainment consequently gave rise to the founding of Experience Effects Limited, presently one of the largest lighting and event companies in Trinidad, with clients that include Fantasy Carnival, Machel Montano, and Carib Brewery.
Along with the companies mentioned above, the Lollabee Group of Companies also expanded to include Lollabee Real Estate, dedicated to gated community development; Infraserve Supplies and Contracting Services Limited, offering personalised project management services to the public and private sectors; Farms R Us, focused on egg and poultry production; My Fit Menu Limited, an exceptionally successful business delivering healthy, delicious food to homes and workplaces at affordable prices; and Experience Distribution, a mass distribution company focusing on fast-moving consumer goods. Lucrative advertising agency Sotal Advertising Limited was also incorporated into the Lollabee Company Group, leading to the creation of sister company Sotal Signs and Printing Limited. Sheldon is also the founder of the Lollabee Charity Foundation, which organises several feeding programmes and supports many charitable causes and foundations.
Under Sheldon's leadership, the Lollabee Group of Companies has grown from one telecom franchise to over 10 successful companies, providing employment to almost 300 persons locally. He is now undertaking various business initiatives in the U.S., focusing on real estate in Texas and Florida, and the provision of mobile healthcare for the elderly.
Sheldon's business approach centres on the belief that life is not just about ideas - it's about making ideas happen.
"Perserverance moves mountains, one grain of sand at a time"
What was the reason behind saying yes to being on the panel for Planting Seeds?
As someone who started from nothing, was turned away from the banks, and from every organisation that advertised giving financial assistance to young entrepreneurs, I have a broad understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs today are faced with. I was lucky enough to have a family member willing to invest in me, when nobody else would- not everyone is so fortunate. Now that I am in a position to help others, I want to do just that. I am looking for those entrepreneurs who have the same drive and determination that I did, someone who wants success so badly they would never give up until they have it.
Needless to say, I support Planting Seeds and their initiatives and it is a pleasure to be on the panel of investors, mentoring and creating opportunities for those who have otherwise been turned away.
Adina Tecklu is a Venture Capitalist at Canaan Partners where she focuses on enterprise infrastructure and SaaS, emerging technologies, and marketplaces. A firm believer that technology can and should be a catalyst to building a better future for all of us, Adina has spent the entirety of her carrier working in and with technology companies of all stages. Her time spent working in enterprise sales, implementation, business development, operations, project management, and consulting have armed her with unique experiences and invaluable insights that she brings with her when working with founders.
Before joining Canaan Partners, Adina was an investor at Frontier Tech Ventures where she focused on early stage emerging technology companies, specifically those operating in the VR/AR, robotics, and machine learning spaces. While there, she served as the Managing Director for River: the world's first frontier technology accelerator. Prior to Frontier Tech Ventures, Adina was a Program Manager at Zenefits where she developed a partner integration strategy that was successfully implemented across several of the largest insurance carriers in the US. She began her career as a Solutions Engineer at Oracle.
Adina attended Stanford University where she received her BSc in Science, Technology, and Society & Management Science and Engineering.
Sheel Mohnot is a Partner of 500 Startups Fintech Fund, the world's most active early-stage fund and accelerator supporting the digital transformation of financial services. His own startup experience includes 2 successful fintech exits as an entrepreneur - a payments company and a high-stakes auction company. He also created and hosts the startup podcast called The Pitch. He formerly worked as a financial services consultant at BCG and started his fintech career at the non-profit P2P lender Kiva. Sheel holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BS from Carnegie Mellon.
Sofia is an entrepreneurial and progress-focused investor, humanist and philomath.
Sofia has been recognised by Forbes as "30 Under 30" (Finance category), by the World Economic Forum as a Global Shaper, by Founders Forum as a "Founder of the Future" and by the French government as an expert advisor to the "France 2020" project.
In 2016, she founded Future Positive Capital , a VC firm on a mission to to accelerate the next generation of businesses that progress the world towards a prosperous, fulfilling and equitable future. With the conviction that tomorrow's most successful companies will strategically elevate the definition of value beyond financial returns to include human capital, innovation capital and societal impact, Future Positive Capital finds, funds and fosters the world's most inspiring entrepreneurs - radical minds applying proprietary science and technology to solve challenging socio-economic-environmental problems at scale. Their portfolio includes,Ynsect - the global leader in alternative protein supply (PE Hub), Streetbees - a company upending the business intelligence market by creating real-time, street-level market intelligence through its tech platform and virtual community (Wired), and What3Words - a company building a global, precise and incredibly simple addressing system, providing unique 3-word identifiers for any location (Wired).
Sofia's remarkable career at the intersection of tech innovation and investment encompasses successful stints at Index Ventures, Europe's top venture capital firm, and with angel investor Robin Klein where she processed 32 deals (including ROLI, Citymapper and Farfetch). Prior to this, at the worldwide digital music service Deezer, she was tasked with raising investment round funds of $130 million before becoming the business's Global Strategy Manager, coordinating international expansion and opening 15 worldwide offices.
Purpose-driven and rigorously execution-focused, Sofia's personal and professional passions were directed for more than a decade towards impactful non-profit ventures, founding and steering four groundbreaking programmes. One such project, literacy initiative Laboratoire des Histoires, was singled out by the French government to receive multi-million-Euro investment and rolled out nationwide.
With her international experience, intellectual and philosophical curiosity and a love of rapid-fire conversation (in no less than four languages), Sofia is also an engaging and sought-after speaker, mentor and guest lecturer at Science Po Paris.
She's also the powerhouse behind Impact Coffee, monthly meetups about high-impact entrepreneurship.
Jacob Shea is currently a Partner at Structure Capital, a seed investment firm in San Francisco invested in 130 companies. Jacob has spent his career focused on the interchange of technology, marketing, and business, and has been coding for 20+ years, and continues to parachute in with startups to advise on platforms and technology. Hired at 19 as a programmer at Dell Computers in Austin, the largest eCommerce store in the world. He stepped down from Dell after 3 years to start a tech consulting firm building enterprise software for 7 years advising Dell and their teams on platforms, application development, big data and logistics. Moving to San Diego he co-founded a Digital Agency building digital products and campaigns for big brands such as Yahoo Sports, Qualcomm, NFL, Comcast, etc.
After selling the agency, he played leadership roles in technology and advisory roles for Dell, NASCAR, F1, NFL, Qualcomm and Pixar. He first joined Structure as a Director, Portfolio and LP Community, and Entrepreneur in Residence, and now is a Partner for the fund. Jacob stepped in as Chief Technology Officer for Copia during the Y-Combinator W'16 batch, a portfolio company, focused on fighting hunger.
Jacob proudly has a daughter in tech, currently in University studying Computer Science and Mathematics.
Lisa-Maria Alexander currently holds the role of Chief Marketing Officer – Trinidad & Tobago for the JMMB Group, a regional financial leader head-quartered in Jamaica with operations in Trinidad & Tobago and the Dominican Republic. Her areas of responsibility include Marketing Strategy, Public Relations & Communication, as well as Product Development, within the Trinidad and Tobago operations. She also leads the Group in area of Client Experience Management. Lisa-Maria most recently led the re-branding thrust from Intercommercial Bank Limited to JMMB Bank as Project Business Owner, which successfully occurred in May 2016. In 2009 Lisa-Maria served as Country Manager - CMMB Barbados - a full service Brokerage and Liquidity Management House. Lisa-Maria headed Scotia Investments Trinidad and Tobago Ltd as its General Manager in 2008 and as Country Manager at Dhering Bunting & Golding for three years (3) from May 2005. Before this appointment, she spent four years at a major regional insurance company ensuring the effective leadership of the marketing and sales force. Additionally, Lisa Maria has worked in the fields of Purchasing and Quality Management within various organizations and has been a Marketing and Public Relations professional for almost twenty (20) years.
Lisa-Maria holds a BSc. in Industrial Management and an MSc in Management Studies: Advanced Marketing, also from the University of the West Indies. Her specialist area of study is Relationship Marketing and its impact of on Customer Loyalty in Banks in Trinidad and Tobago, consistent with her over 15 years’ experience in the Financial Sector. Lisa-Maria’s skill set also includes Customer Experience Strategy Development and Management, leads a technical team as the Business Owner for the Client Experience Programme at the JMMB Group across Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Lisa-Maria was an original member of the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT), and President for 2008-2009. With proven competence in formal Research, she was the Chairperson of AFETT’s for the Top 5 Business Leaders Survey project 2011. Lisa-Maria was formerly a Director of the Greater Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce 2012-2013 and has also served as the chairperson for the Volunteer sub-committee of the Local Organizing Committee for Cricket World Cup 2007 and of Carifesta in the prior year. Lisa-Maria is also a former Director of the Board of the Queen’s Hall theatre facility in the capacity of marketing specialist, and also a Director of the Securities Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (2008).
A licensed stockbroker on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange and former Financial Advisor, Lisa-Maria continues a career in the Financial Services sector as an executive Team Leader providing Strategic direction for JMMB Country operations in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as continuing to lend her expertise as Marketing Consultant on a few volunteer Projects.
Mrs. Glasgow is the Founder and Managing Director of BizTactics Limited, a company dedicated to supporting growth-aspiring firms. She has over 30 years’ experience in supporting the start-up and growth of small and medium enterprises. Mrs. Glasgow is also a Co-Founder of FirstAngelsJA, Jamaica’s first angel investor Network. Her company provides management services to the Network.
She is the former Chief Executive Officer of The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Founder of the Technology Innovation Centre, a business incubator at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited since 2002, now listed on the Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchanges as the NCB Financial Group Limited. She serves as a Trustee for three Pension Funds, and is a member of the Boards of Directors of four other companies and three not-for-profit organisations. She is the mentor to one company listed on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange and counts among her company’s clients several other firms aspiring to list on the Junior Market of the JSE.
She is a certified trainer in Corporate Governance Board Leadership and Business Ethics. An Eisenhower Fellow, Mrs. Glasgow earned her MBA specialising in the Management of Technology, from the University of the West Indies, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and Applied Botany.
Produced in Trinidad and Tobago, Planting Seeds also has a television series that gives entrepreneurs who register with us, the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of successful investors on regional television.
Every episode features several entrepreneurs, each delivering a concise two-minute-long presentation of their business plan to the panel, after which they are given feedback. One or more of the investors.... Read more
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