Desmond Austin Marcus Mitchell
You have quite an interesting background...
Thank you! I have been blessed to have a variety of incredible opportunities over the past few years. Growing up I was always interested in mentorship and helping others achieve their goals, and I have made sure to consistently follow that passion. After graduating from Harvard I had the chance to work at Google for two years in the marketing and sales department. Google is such an incredible company and I was amazed by the environment they are able to create. Although I loved my time at Google, I really wanted to get involved in the educational sector and was approached, and then hired, to be an academic advisor, at a specialised school in New Zealand. I was quickly promoted to run the school and was completely immersed in the complexities of current educational structures; understanding and reforming how we educate young, aspiring individuals. In addition to Google and Olé Football Academy, the school in New Zealand, I also helped to restructure and then build an internationally known non-profit called Global Minimum with a few colleagues from college. At Global Minimum we hold innovation challenges and innovation labs which started in Sierra Leone and have since expanded to Kenya and South Africa. I am currently working here at Start-Up Jamaica, with bright teams to help them reach their goals.
What brought you to Jamaica?
My mom is from Jamaica, more specifically St Catherine, and my dad is from Grenada. While I was born in the United States, I grew up in a Caribbean household. I have always wanted to spend time here in Jamaica, getting to better understand my heritage and roots.
How did you get involved in Start Up Jamaica?
I originally came down to Jamaica to start a youth entrepreneurship organisation called Cornerstone Innovation. While the organisation has changed drastically, in building a network amongst members of the innovation scene here in Jamaica I met up with Sandra Glasgow. We hit it off, and within a short period of time I was brought on to work with the many participating teams.
What exactly is Start Up Jamaica? And how successful has it been?
Start-Up Jamaica is an accelerator which takes a high-touch approach to building technology-focused ventures; providing necessary mentorship along the lines of business strategy, operations, communications, and more. In simpler terms, we help young entrepreneurs in the technology space grow their ventures and provide the mentorship and some resources along the way.
The project has been great so far! Personally, It has been incredible seeing the teams grow, start generating revenue, and build a community amongst each other -- taking a collaborative approach to supporting the success of each team. In just over three months some of our teams have received international recognition, investments, and are continuing to develop compelling/ effective business models.
What were your first impressions of Kingston?
It is quite the busy city with a lot going on. Taxi drivers are aggressive. And it's always hot. I am used to four seasons. In terms of people, Jamaicans are incredibly expressive and, for the most part, very helpful.
If you were mayor of Kingston for 24 hours what would you do and why?
I would create the framework and approve a programme to restore the beauty of downtown Kingston. I am amazed by the gorgeous structures that are present and have so much potential. I would really love to see the buildings live up to that potential.
What would you say are the best career options for the next five years?
I am a bit biased, but the technology sector is growing at an incredible rate. Over the past 10 -15 years people have been focused on accumulating data. However, within the past few years people are finally starting to synthesise that data and better understand how we can improve current systems or create new systems for our everyday challenges. Therefore, I think some of the best career options will fall between computer engineering and business.