In 2017 Winston and Akua had a vision to increase their access to software developers so they could help solve the problems they had with scaling their technology startups. If they had it their way, so many developers would be invited to stay in the Caribbean, the accommodations wouldn't be a hacker house – it would be a Hacker Hostel.
The brand is now leading the development of engineering talent across the Caribbean and Latin America. Hacker hostel partners with global technology firms, local government and businesses, and top regional universities to bring together talent, mentors, and immediate job opportunities. All this, while providing international software experts an immersive cultural experience that creates stronger long-term ties with the community. Through a combination of voluntourism, custom curriculi, and targeted job placement, Hacker Hostel is creating the foundation for a vibrant tech ecosystem in the region.
Winston has been a tech-based entrepreneur for the last 20 years. He went from selling hard to find comic books, running a printing logistics business, to video production and now StartupRobot focused on improving entrepreneurs' access to capital, talent and markets.
He studied Electrical Engineering, and then pursued an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship. He has also learned Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Agile project management in his time running a tech startup – StartupRobot.
Winston recently served as a Manager at Startup Jamaica and now invests in a small portfolio of startups, including Hacker Hostel and overseen implementation of technology projects in five continents among organisations of various verticals and sizes.
An Entrepreneur for over 7 years, With experience in Marketing, Business Development, Design and Process Design, Akua has worked as a Business Development Consultant and Co-Founder with many great startups including GangaGram, StartupRobot, Develop Digitally & SmartTaxi.
His current startup, Hacker Hostel, a platform for Hiring Managers in US Markets to find Caribbean Tech Talent vetted by Senior Engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Akua attended the university of the West Indies and pursued an undergraduate degree in History and a minor in Political Science. His strength lies in his ability to communicate with entrepreneurs to help them gain deeper insights into how to quickly prove/disprove the assumptions around their business models.
Facebook and Parallel18 have joined forces to create a 12-week program to help Hacker Hostel impact the Sustainable Development Goals #8 and 9, i.e. Decent Work and Innovation, respectively.
Startup Hub Caribbean will help Hacker Hostel scale the impact they are already creating for the Caribbean, by providing training and mentorship from Facebook executives and other external experts.
Amazon's diversity inclusion initiative partners with Hacker Hostel to help provide support and training through volunteers from their AWS Solution Architecture team
Mr. Epstein is the Chairman & CEO of Itel-BPO Solutions and holds a leading authority on the subject of outsourcing in the Caribbean along with being the first Vice-President and immediate past President of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ).
He was recently named chairman for Car Rental 8.com, a rental brokerage firm based in Tampa, Florida that provides a rental car booking service that manages over 70,000 bookings per year and has supply agreements with all of the major car rental brands globally. Mr. Epstein is the Chairman of Alpha Angels, an angel investment group made up of other entrepreneurs in Montego Bay, Jamaica who invest in early stage startups.
He has over sixteen (16) years of professional experience in the contact centre industry and was recently named “2016 Entrepreneur of the Year” by Nearshore Americas. He was also ranked one of the 50 most influential executives in Nearshore Outsourcing in Latin America and the Caribbean. Itel-BPO has been awarded “Employer of the Year” both in 2013 and 2014 by the Montego Bay Free Zone Company.
Kaiton Williams, Ph.D, Cornell University, is senior engineer at Microsoft. He has been an instructor, a web designer, and a software developer for Goldman Sachs and sees his graduate study as a confluence of all these threads and more.
Kaiton Williams helps the Hacker Hostel team make decisions about product development market opportunities and the appropriate technologies to leverage within our agency.