Eldon Marks: Version 75
Eldon Marks is hands down the coolest person in Guyana.
Everyone thinks that cucumbers are cool but Eldon eats cucumbers for lunch. As an Educator and an Entrepreneur, Eldon is in the business of developing software as much as he is in the business of developing human potential. From the perspective of an outsider you might think that Version 75 is a software company but if you ask Eldon to describe it his answer will surprise you. You see, Eldon created Version 75 to be a community where he could pass on his skills and knowledge to the young people whom he recognised as having great potential. This is his personal mission to pay it forward by investing in young Software Developers. The purpose behind Version 75 was to empower young developers to duplicate the success that he was able to have as an independent consultant. What resulted was a full-fledged tech startup and incubator as small factions broke off to form separate companies leaving behind a core team to handle the ever increasing workload. Eldon has no worries about competition. He is all about collaboration and sharing is exactly what he created Version 75 to do so he regularly farms out projects to his proteges' companies.
Despite its humble origins and relative youth at only three years, Version 75 has already made its mark on both the local and international scenes. Winning the 2016 Ministry of Tourism Hack-a-thon brought Version 75 into the light of the Guyanese public and attracted the attention of international Venture Capitalists. Entering the hack-a-thon was an exciting challenge for his team and merely a savvy marketing strategy to Eldon. He wanted the public to experience first what Version 75 could do before they asked what it is. The other part of his marketing strategy consists of the referrals they get from clients who have had great experiences with the company. The Insurance Company in Canada that commissioned Version 75 to create a website and a webportal for their customers subsequently won an award for being the most tech forward Insurance Company in Canada for their attractive and progressive employment of technology. Although potential clients were beating a path to their front door after that, ultimately the unspoken bias against tech companies that exist 6000 miles outside of Silicon Valley and the first world caused several negotiations to fall through but Eldon is much too resourceful to ever have to give in to despair. He has overcome this obstacle by appointing an Agent to represent Version 75 in Canada thereby also by-passing the hurdle of receiving payments while doing business online.
With Version 75 and WeOwn Space both on stable trajectories, Eldon is turning his attention back to his pet project, DevCamp which will debut this summer under its new name DevX. What started as a way to rally the members of his developers community from just having great ideas into taking action has evolved into the ultimate expo for tech and tech-related companies in Guyana. DevX is another way that Eldon is able to demonstrate his commitment to and belief in Guyanese talent, Guyanese business and the power of community.
Now you have to admit that Tech Startups, Venture Capitalists, International Clients, Awards, winning national competitions, having a Masters Degree in Artifical Intelligence, running two successful businesses while being a devoted family man are all very cool. But it is my humble opinion that it is his willingness to reach out to, teach, lead, empower, promote, collaborate with, share with and believe in Guyanese that makes Eldon Marks the coolest person in Guyana and in this way we can all be cool like Eldon.
Whereas Version75 has had the benefit of a fairly large team and three years of consistent growth, the following pioneers are either Solopreneurs or are supported by much smaller teams.
Written By: Dawn Bumbury