Writer: Desi Dijkhuizen
What started two years ago as an innovative idea developed into a creative and ambitious platform, consisting of Curaçao professionals from all over the world. Especially during quarantine, Innovation Ç created inspiring online sessions and motivating presentations, which led to an increasing number of members. The presentations of upcoming entrepreneurs, digital conferences focusing on positive subjects for the island and uplifting blogs are just some ingredients that made this platform grow. The name says it all. Innovation Ç aims to contribute to the socio-economic growth of Curaçao by connecting individuals and organizations in order to build a better future through innovation. Curaçao Business Magazine had the opportunity to interview Luuk Weber and Andy Kirchner, the forces behind Innovation Ç, about the start, present and future of their exciting plans.
Luuk Weber was part of the Caribbean Blockchain Network in 2018, which led him to create an interesting event in December 2018 that brought creative and innovative minds together. “The idea was to present a more personalized version of TEDx (A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and performances are shared with the community and has the mission of ‘ideas worth spreading’.) This young and positive meet up at Landhuis Chobolobo captured so much attention and quickly became bigger than expected. It was important for the innovative speakers to not only focus on the business part, but also to show the audience the emotional and personal challenges that they experienced through the entrepreneurial journey. The cherry on top was definitely the presence of our Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath at our event, something we never saw coming. One of the speakers was Andy Kirchner, who blew the audience away with his impressive story of survival, determination and passion towards life. Little did I know that two years later our friendship would bloom into a positive and inspiring platform”, Luuk explains at the beginning of the interview.
It was that successful event at Landhuis Chobolobo that started to write the first chapter of Innovation Ç. After a pause of a year due to imperfect timing, Luuk decided to continue with this idea to create events that are ‘more than just’ conferences. His goal was to bring innovation, with a Caribbean twist, creating solutions to problem areas.
And then the unexpected happen. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and brought global cities to their knees. “The pandemic hit, and I wanted to create something positive out of it, by connecting to the situation and looking at different perspectives. On March 28, Innovation Ç launched the first digital conference called ‘Remote and Thriving’. In this conference, multiple experts provided deep insights and practical tips on how to successfully navigate this stormy period and prepare for the future of digital work. It’s time to turn our collective future around and become more adaptable and resourceful. Andy Kirchner was also part of the presentation team and his professional attitude, calmness and impressive content made me approach him to become part of the Innovation Ç force”, he continues.
“I had a really good feeling at my presentation called ‘Mental and physical health: Guidelines for self-mastery’, a topic that is relevant and can’t be dismissed. When Luuk contacted me, my business was dying, Coronavirus was reaching the island and I felt like no one understood me. ‘Remote and Thriving’ was an important step in my journey, by informing other entrepreneurs who were also working at home during these challenging times”, Andy explains.
This successful presentation made both entrepreneurs realize that the island was in need of something like this. A huge necessity existed as people wanted to be part of a positive platform, collectively. “It’s not only to inspire others about business tools and entrepreneurial stories, but it’s the personal touch that makes the difference. In Innovation Ç, we focus on the mental health and emotional, personal traits. People are still unaware just how important mental health is for success”, Andy adds. Especially during the quarantine weeks, it was remarkable that so many entrepreneurs on the island felt the necessity to get their emotions out of their system. After the ‘Remote and Thriving’ conference, Innovation Ç continued presenting several virtual conferences online, for example ‘Creative Mindset and Entrepreneurship’, ‘The Social Connection’, ‘Business as Unusual’ and many more. During all these presentations, entrepreneurs of Curaçao, living locally or internationally, talked about their road to success. During quarantine, these presentations were definitely ‘food for the soul’ to the presenters and the audience. The team spirit, feedback regarding the presentations, love for our island, and positive energy, all gave the people involved the feeling that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Staying positive when the news is doom and gloom can be difficult, even for the most optimistic people. While it is true we need to take the Coronavirus pandemic seriously, it does not mean we have to let it break us. Yes, it is impacting our economy and causing illness worldwide. And yes, we see, hear and read about these topics literally all day. But in times of constant negative messaging, focusing on positive and inspiring news will help keep a positive attitude to move forward with determination and hope.
“Our world is different now. We are all feeling especially delicate during these times, and it is at times like these that we must be there for each other. We need to take ownership and find comfort in these uncomforting times. To be successful, we need to improve ourselves first. We need to be open to talk about our problems and become better versions of ourselves. The Coronavirus crisis gave us the confirmation that there are so many opportunities online, and through our platform we can feel connected to each other. With Innovation Ç, we are planting seeds together”, Luuk says.
Even though Innovation Ç is relatively a young platform, its popularity has grown in record time. The board members are planning to turn the platform into a foundation to also have more partners, members and sponsors involved. “As a platform, we are there for each other. We walk together in this journey by giving Curaçao that positive power it needs. We discuss important matters on economical, social and inspirational levels, by inspiring others to make a change”, Andy says at the end of the interview.
Do you want to be part of Innovation Ç?