Almost all local online techies have dreamt of creating the next local Facebook, Yelp, Craigslist, Twitter, and so forth. Many have tried no doubt, some with the same “garage startup story” like Google and Apple, but there have been more failures than successes in the online startup world in Trinidad and the few who remain alive, barely make a dent. A stark contrast compared to foreign countries, where tech startups go on to become multi-million dollar IPs.

There are a lot of failed international startups as well, which we don’t hear much of; but the ones who become successful, go on to change not only their country but the world. Why can’t this happen in Trinidad?

We have a lot of similar ‘failed stories’ but no such similar ‘success stories’ here. What is it about our Trini environment that hinders us so badly? Let’s dive into it and hopefully address the elephant in modern-day Trinidad.


The global tech world is “flat” in that all the technical resources afforded to these successful foreign startups are equally available to us Trinis. Most of the knowledge is already out there. It’s not as if these international tech properties were created in a vacuum or some secretive military base where we have no idea who or what made these platforms successful. The story and techniques are out there! A quick Google or YouTube search returns a plethora of in-depth analyses, blogs, documentaries, vlogs and many more, for us to learn the “secret sauce” to these successful tech companies.

In other words, we literally have the same extensive tools and knowledge to create our own local Facebook, Craigslist, etc; yet no one has. Why is that?

The Outcome

What is worrisome is that you see a lot of really great ideas being promoted on social media targeted at Trinis attempting to be the “next great thing…” and a few weeks, not even months, later you see nothing, absolutely nothing again from these platforms or brands. They suddenly go cold, and dark and their online presence is like a ghost town of something that once was, eventually fading away completely. So much promise with so few results.

To put it in Trini terms, “they all start off hot and sweaty then bail when it no good, no more!”. This is the reality of Trini online “startup” culture, unfortunately. We won’t divulge names to add insult to injury, but the list is long if you’ve been observant over the years.


So what is it that makes us fail so miserably at attempting to do great things online? Is it that we focus too heavily on Carnival? Is it something in our doubles? God, I hope not! Is it because we Trinis take things too easy and too laid back? Are we not “hungry” enough? Is it our hot climate? Are we too small?

We are probably as tech-savvy as the other countries that produce many successful startups, yet our success stories are far few if any at all.

The online startups sort of thriving in this space are essentially digital replicas of traditional business models, specifically, brick-and-mortar enterprises, transitioned into the online realm.

They are essentially a digital version of something that already existed. That’s hardly considered “innovative” or game-changing.

I’m not diminishing their value or importance, heck we have a collective list right here just to support, and bring awareness to them.

We’re here to discuss the bold, daring, unique, revolutionary and game-changing platforms that aren’t merely digital copies of brick-and-mortar businesses. In other words, innovation. Popularity doesn’t mean innovation.

It’s Probably Not in Our Culture

Now that we’ve established that mostly brick-and-mortar copycats survive online, it seems that most Trinis are comfortable with the way things are. We don’t care for disruption, innovation or evolution.

We’re not a nation that questions authority; beating up our chests online while doing nothing in reality doesn’t count. We’re a submissive nation since we let our leaders do as they please no matter how much we may disagree with their decisions. We allow the status quo to define our lives.

All this translates online and is probably why we as a nation don’t seem to innovate online. It’s almost as if we’ve been conditioned to remain in line. We may question authority, but ultimately cower when it comes to needed change.

Another clear example is while the rest of the world is phasing out traditional media outlets and malls, in Trinidad, these remain our primary sources of news and commerce.

Why should we even innovate?

Relying so heavily as we are now on foreign platforms with our data and communication is a tricky game. Their interests aren’t necessarily aligned with ours. We have no control over what they provide, feed us, promote, limit, suppress or otherwise. Yet their influence and our reliability on them is immense.

We love to think we’re an independent nation. However, we are terribly dependent on foreign platforms, brands and investments. That is hardly the definition of independence if you ask me.

Ever wonder why Trinidad has been a third-world nation for so long despite knowing better? These behaviours are partially why we have remained so.

This is why I believe we need to innovate. If we continue this dependence we may very well remain third-world.

No angels

One key ingredient foreign startups have in their early days to ensure longevity, which sadly has yet to be realised in Trinidad, is Angel Investors. 

While we do have affluent individuals or entities investing in businesses for expansion, these investors typically seek to exert influence over the direction of the business, deviating from the approach of foreign investors who largely leave scaling decisions in the hands of the founder(s).

Many founders want their original vision to flourish and are often reluctant to surrender it to someone with financial superiority who doesn’t share the exact same vision.

 Submitting to this is commonly referred to as “selling out”, which has happened to many failed visions that mutated when investors stepped in.

This is likely the reason why many local startups struggle to survive beyond a few weeks to months. They prefer to rely on out-of-pocket investments, primarily from their founders or, if not, from individuals closely connected to them. But this can only carry them so far.

Should founders be more relaxed?

Founders are typically characterized by their ambitious visions rather than substantial financial resources.

Interestingly, iconic figures such as Steve Jobs, Wozniak, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Mark Zuckerberg were all ordinary individuals with grand aspirations. They didn’t initially receive funding for their innovations from peers or family. Instead, they gained the trust of angel investors who believed in their ability to carry out the necessary work.

Some of these success stories should show that it was the vision of the founders that actually made these visions the billion-dollar companies they are now. Steve Jobs’s story is a good example that without the founder’s vision, a company can reach the verge of bankruptcy.

The founder’s vision is why the startup exists in the first place, to change that would be changing the entire venture. Their vision needs to be nurtured, additional wings to fly higher, in their direction as crazy as it may seem sometimes, not an external influence to cage them up or change direction. It diminishes the value of the startup and it may never reach its full potential.

The eleFant in the room. 

Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Threads) is a major innovation killer for Trinis because it has almost everything we like to do online (outside of “raunchy content”) other than accept payments and banking. It’s the Trinidad equivalent of WeChat for China, unfortunately.

Even other unpopular foreign brands pretending to be trini, step in with deep pockets and steal the market from under us.

So why would or how could any smaller-scale startup platform survive? So far it’s a David and Goliaths scenario where Goliaths are winning all the time.


I’m sorry to say, there isn’t a quick and easy solution. A terrible amount has to change for us Trinis, some of which were not discussed or elaborated on, otherwise, this already lengthy article could go on for a long time.

To be honest, I don’t think we want a solution. We’re comfortable giving all the power to foreigners.

We love to follow, we love to be told what to do, we love to be submissive, because if we truly didn’t we probably would’ve done something about a very long time ago.

Until we put in the hard work, and you know how much Trinis love hard work, I don’t think things will change anytime soon.

Born and raised in the beautiful twin island of Trinidad & Tobago, I feel the need to make a positive difference and help our people become more digitally educated.

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