STAYING CONNECTED

Jamaica 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Business Access TV plans to expand its social media services and products to other countries in the Caribbean.

Garth Walker
BIOGRAPHY
With a bachelors in management from Nova South Eastern University and an MBA from the University of New Orleans, Garth Walker’s first job as an operations officer at George & Brandy Merchant Bank later brought him to Mainland International. There, he became Group Executive and then Vice President of marketing. Now the owner of Creative Media and Events, Adam and Eve Day Spa, and Business Access TV, Walker and his business partner Leighton Davis launched Wealth magazine in 2009 during an economic recession—to date lauded as Jamaica’s number-one business publication, while Wealth Business Access remains the country’s leading business television program.

What were the main highlights of Business Access TV and Wealth magazine in 2018?

In 2017, we were on the verge of entering the Caribbean. One of the main highlights for Business Access TV is that it is currently distributing the platform to the 13 territories it currently operates in. With our magazine, we landed a big victory with the product. For the 35th edition of the magazine, we partnered with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) to do a special on the last set of inductees to the PSOJ Hall of Fame over the past 25 years. We will be the first to incorporate all 25 inductees in one publication, and it will become a keepsake.

Who are the main sponsors and partners that have played a part in your success?

For Business Access TV, Gary Butch Hendrickson, the chairman of National, was instrumental. I had asked him if he would be willing to give the channel more support and told him about On Point; it was expensive to launch it at that time. He immediately said yes, picked up the phone, and called the marketing department. From that conversation until the end of the sponsorship, he provided all the support he had committed. That helped us launch a program and prepare a channel and kept us going when business was slow.

What are your main strategies for social media?

We want to cut up content to put some of the more interesting or exciting news on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. We also do live streaming so that people can watch developments on our channel from anywhere in the world. We also want to develop an app that can keep users connected to the content from anywhere. We currently stream three programs: our news, On Point, and Wealth magazine; however, we want to reach the point where we are streaming the channel live.

What other activities do you engage in?

Early in 2018, my partner Ryan Reed and I launched a company called Growth Tech. That company won the contract to provide Wi-Fi services on Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses. We also provide Wi-Fi for different tour companies across the island, as well as hospitals, courthouses, and fast food chains. We want Wi-Fi to achieve the same status as oxygen: free for everyone and available everywhere. On that note, we have launched a digital agency, Bumblebee, to support Growth Tech. Anyone who wants to do business with Growth Tech must first handle it through Bumblebee. It offers various social media services and products, including the management of social media accounts and Wi-Fi advertising. These are the two latest ventures I have been involved in aside from the TV and the magazine. In addition, I also own the second-largest spa in Jamaica, Adam and Eve Day Spa. At present, we are planning a massive investment to expand that brand. The hospitality business is big in Kingston, dominated 70% by women. In 2019, we will have large plans in that area.

Do you have any potential partners in mind to strengthen your digital operations?

The two major players in terms of telecommunications in Jamaica are Digicel and Flow. We partner with both of them in different ways to ensure the quality and sustainability of Wi-Fi in both the mobile and fixed spaces. In order to connect to Wi-Fi, people will have to watch an ad. The plan is to grow our services to other countries in the Caribbean, and we plan to roll out these services throughout the Caribbean.