One of the tenants of Cayman Enterprise City launched a website last months that its founder and chief executive officer said he thinks can take social media in a new direction.
Brandon Caruana of TopThat, which recently launched a website of the same name, believes that the one thing missing from social media is competition. At the TopThat website, people can post images or videos that other people can compete against or rate.
Caruana said that there’s no real limitation to the nature of the videos or images, which can include everything from rating golf swings and office pranks to photographs and recipes.
“It’s pretty much open to anything,” he said.
The site concept was well-received during a recent public relations tour in San Francisco and New York.
“Everything we heard was very positive,” Caruana said.
Articles about the company have appeared on more than 20 online news sites, Caruana said.
“Our favourite quote is from a Yahoo article – ‘This may mark a new turning point in social media, from one where people shout from the sidelines, a la Twitter, to one where everybody gets to vote or be voted on regarding everyday things, as has been seen in science fiction movies and books for decades’,” he said.
This week, TopThat started a marketing campaign targeting some specific colleges.
“We’re hoping to create some college rivalries,” he said.
The website will ultimately take on a direction of its own based on the imaginations of the users.
“It’s exciting to think about how people will use it,” he said.
A resident of Cayman for three years now, the Toronto-, Canada, born Caruana got the idea for TopThat during a game of golf here. He and another member of his golf group one day started “trash talking” about who had the better golf swing.
They decided to video each of their swings and then post it online and let their friends decide whose swing was better. After posting the video, they realised there was no real website available for the posting of competitions.
“Since there wasn’t one out there, we decided to build one,” he said.
Working in their spare time, Caruana, who is a software developer, and two of his IT-inclined colleagues – Ruben Falcon and Sacha Didier – worked to build the new site.
The men looked into launching the business from the Cayman Islands initially.
“I wanted to stay here,” he said. “I love the island life.”
However, when they looked into forming the company here, they didn’t think it was going to work out.
“There was too much red tape,” he said, noting that costs were also a factor. Caruana then started looking at other possible bases of operation, including the United Kingdom – where he also has citizenship – Canada and the United States.
That’s when he saw an article in the Caymanian Compass talking about Cayman Enterprise City.
Cayman Enterprise City
Caruana set up a meeting Cayman Enterprise City’s Vice President Marketing and Business Development Hilary McKenzie-Cahill and after learning more about the special economic zone, he realised it was perfect for TopThat.
He had a local law firm set up the company and now TopThat has a desk at Cayman Enterprise City’s gateway offices in HSBC House as part of the Internet and Technology Park of the special economic zone.
Caruana said the process of getting established in the special economic zone was not difficult at all.
“[The Cayman Enterprise City staff] make it easy,” he said. “They hold your hand and walk you through the process. They help you navigate the waters of Cayman.”
In addition, Cayman Enterprise City was able to introduce him to a number of valuable contacts that can help further TopThat’s development.
There’s another big reason Cayman Enterprise City was perfect for Caruana: “It enabled me to stay in Cayman,” he said.
A self-proclaimed computer geek, Caruana said he thinks his company can hit the big time. The business model derives income from a variety of sources, the first of which is advertising.
Beyond that, TopThat can host branded competitions and a place where small businesses can have internal competitions that others could watch.
Caruana said it is also planned to hold TopThat branded competitions where high-definition videos could be hosted. Major corporations sometime create websites just to do this already, he said.
“Corporations are out there right now paying millions for their own platform and I can spin this up for them at a fraction of the cost,” he said.
The next step for the TopThat team is to find some venture capital.
“Now we need to raise enough money to make [something big] out of this thing,” he said.
Caruana also thinks Cayman Enterprise City will offer a lot of benefits to various Internet and Technology ventures and the registration of intellectual property.
“Cayman Enterprise City gives people the opportunity to bring their IP here, and why wouldn’t people want to bring it here?” he said. “Five years in the future, I see a whole IT hub here. I see Silicon Island.”