It's the kind of exposure every small business owner dreams of: over 20 minutes of coverage on a popular reality TV show with a national audience.
This dream came true for Cockpit Country Adventure Tours (CCAT), when it was featured on Jamaica's popular show, "The Innovators."
Now in its seventh season, "The Innovators" selects small business from across the island, and gives them advice on how to improve their business. Each season's selected businesses compete for a season-ending prize of $250,000 (Jamaican).
The show's creator and co-host Yaneek Page, herself a successful entrepreneur, described what made CCAT attractive to "The Innovators." "This business exemplified the key elements of community," says Page. "It brings value to the community. It unlocks earning potential for other businesses around the area, while preserving the environment."
Cockpit Country Adventure Tours (CCAT) offers visitors a series of nature hikes, historic tours and bird watching treks. But the company is best known for its cave tours. Expert guides lead small groups through a labyrinth of underground caves, where guests crawl, slide, wade and splash their way through a pure spelunking adventure. Depending on the time of the tour, a hearty lunch is often included.
Melesia Brown reminisces on her participation in ‘The Innovators’ at Cockpit Country Adventure Tours
For "The Innovators," CCAT was represented by Melisia Brown, who recalls being extremely excited when her business was selected for the show. "We felt like finally we'd get the chance to put our business out there and get some publicity and visibility in areas where it mattered," says Brown.
Each business selected to appear on "The Innovators" is assigned a mentor, a business professional who provides advice as to how to grow the business. For Cockpit Country Adventure Tours, that mentor was Tina Matalon, whom Brown credits with helping the business. "My mentor was extremely helpful and her advice was spot on," says Brown.
While CCAT did not win the season's $250,000 Grand Prize, Brown says the business benefitted greatly. "We have adopted some of the advice given and we are reaping the rewards," she says.
The episode of "The Innovators" featuring CCAT aired September 19, 2016, and ever since then, the business has grown. "Yes, our business has changed," says Brown. "More than anything we have established some new relationships with tour operators who saw the feature and claimed ours is the kind of product they'd been looking for."
CCAT is located in the central western mountains of Jamaica, in an area known as Cockpit Country, located in Trelawny and Saint Elizabeth parishes, known for its steep hollows and cone-shaped hills.
Yaneek Page has become quite a fan of CCAT, and says the business allows visitors to "experience the natural magnificence of Jamaica in its purest form."