Returning to the Island
Following the annual Bermuda Tech Summit, Penrose Partners and their international cohort of technology company Founders returned to Bermuda for another jam-packed yet exhilarating two-week retreat to Bermuda. Led by Partners Kerem Kolcuoglu and G Clay Miller, Penrose spearheaded what was deemed Innovation Weeks, a technology and innovation retreat accompanied by 20 of their industry clients and colleagues. The purpose of the Innovation Weeks was to celebrate the successful completion of the immersion program for the i3 Innofund Incubator’s inaugural cohort, while welcoming the next group of companies to the Island.
Penrose has been supporting the i3 team in the launch of their i3 Incubator Program by providing a Bermuda immersion experience for the inaugural cohort of companies. The i3 Incubator is also partnered with Canada’s premier startup accelerator—the DMZ —who were also in attendance for Innovation Weeks. Together, i3, Penrose, and the DMZ celebrated the official launch of the incubator with a press release and a week full of activities.
The delegation arrived on Saturday, October 16th—just in time to celebrate ‘Flora Duffy Day’, in honour of the Island’s first-ever olympic gold medalist. Fittingly, the first days were spent getting acclimated and orienting the new companies to the beautiful island. Like any great international excursion, all 8 visiting founders stayed together with the Penrose team in a large, 8 bedroom duplex in Warwick that was nicknamed the “Innovation Dormitories”, which provided an environment for 24/7 innovation. Some of their first experiences in Bermuda included visiting the beautiful pink sand beaches and eating locally caught fish sandwiches, with many of the new-comers enjoying their first-ever traditional Bermudian cocktail - the ‘Dark & Stormy’. After settling in, the cohort dove into an intensive week of incubator programming at the true headquarters for innovation - the Innovation House incubator space in Hamilton.
The participating founders and companies included: James Robinson, Bermuda — Cactus, a premier analytics platform for casualty and specialty insurance; Eric Kryski, Calgary — Bidali, a new-age digital asset payments platform; Darren Wolfberg, New York — Blockchain Triangle, a digital financing platform for ESG and renewable infrastructure; Alex Daskalov, Montreal — Knox, a secure and insured custody solution for digital assets; Pascal Leblanc, Montreal — Mantle, a plug-and-play ransomware and cybersecurity solution; Lennon Pierce and Parth Patel, Oregon and Hawaii — Memora, a digital identity and NFT memorabilia solution; and Michael Laurens, Montreal — Blockboosters, an automated marketing and community growth platform for cryptocurrency companies.
Week of Workshops and Wonder
The programming began with a series of icebreakers, team building exercises, and workshops designed to help develop the different founders’ personal brands. The goal was to foster collaboration and partnerships amongst the different cohort companies—with many potential opportunities being solidified by the end of the time on Island. Next, each startup founder met with Penrose Partners, Innofund, and the DMZ to set their short and long-term goals for the upcoming year in the incubator. The evening concluded with welcome speeches during a beautiful moonlight dinner at the Rosewood Beach Club Restaurant. After a night of drinks and dinner, the founders returned to Innovation House the next day for a friendly pitch competition with local investors, partners and stakeholders of the incubator. Guests included representatives from the Government of Bermuda, Bermuda Asset Management, Swan Group, and other angel investors who enjoyed refreshments while they listened to each founder outline their visions and roadmaps for their business’s growth in Bermuda. After an inspiring evening of presentations and bold plans for the future of digital assets, the entire group migrated downstairs to Front Yard to continue networking over drinks (conveniently located in the front yard of the i3 incubator offices). The remainder of the week was full with days of tailored business development meetings and workshops, capped off with a sunset cruise on the Spirit of Bermuda. The weekends were once again an amazing opportunity for island exploration, including secluded beaches, the Crystal Caves, and long nature walks before evenings of BBQs at the Innovation Dormitories.
The following week provided more flexibility for founders to complete business objectives and follow up with all of their new Bermudian relationships. Having been immersed in the local community throughout the first week, the founders spent time taking advantage of the world class incubator space in the Innovation House to put their plans for Bermuda to action. Many founders remarked at how productive they became when surrounded by other hardworking, like-minded entrepreneurs also driven by impact and innovation. It was a week filled with thought-provoking discussions, compelling company pitches, fruitful meetings, and newfound friendships. Innovation Weeks culminated with a full day of networking under the sun as the cohort attended the PGA Tour’s opening day of the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship where they together represented the i3 Program and participated in Breast Cancer Awareness activities.
A Bright Future for Blockchain in Bermuda
As the startup founders departed from the Island there was a general consensus around the enormous potential that the cohort had for shaping the future of digital assets in Bermuda and in the global markets. Bermuda has been recognized as a top regulatory jurisdiction for blockchain companies— and now with its own premier technology incubator—the future of Bermuda’s plans to attract top-class international technology businesses to the Island is bright. By collaborating with international and local partners, Bermuda is in a position to show the world how much positive change can be made when progressive legislation meets technological innovation. Penrose is now hard at work planning the cohort’s next visit to the Island, which will be highlighted by the third annual International Technology Summit in early February 2022. If you are interested in participating in future i3 Incubator cohorts, applications are now open and we encourage you to apply here.