At just 24 years old, Alex Crawford, a medical student at the University of the West Indies, is making moves as the head of two groundbreaking start-ups in the United States.
At the height of the global pandemic, Crawford and his business partners launched Imperial Solutions LLC, a hospitality company with 400-plus employees providing business solutions to over 100 clients in seven major cities, and Aidamm LLC, an eCommerce marketplace for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Aidamm has a success rate of 80 per cent vendor sign-ups and has seen an increase in app downloads by 1,000 per cent since launching. They have also sold 90 per cent of the products featured on the website, which run the gamut from air pods to cereal. And as Crawford tells it, he is just getting started.
As a young man from humble beginnings, Crawford was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early, having started business ventures from his days at Manchester High School, where he quickly identified entrepreneurship as a potential tool to turn his life around and empower many others along the way.
At Manchester High, Crawford met some of his lifelong friends who would later become business partners in his US-based businesses. It is no doubt, therefore, why he looks back at his days spent at the standout south-central Jamaica school with great fondness. “It’s the best school in Jamaica!” he said. “It’s well-rounded and is known for excellence in arts, sports, and academic achievements.”
Many fear mixing friendships with business. But the formula has worked well for Crawford and his executive team of successful young professionals in business, science, technology, and medicine. When asked what makes a successful partnership, he said, “The answer is trust and the dedication of all involved led by a radical visionary.”
Crawford is pulling on this ‘radical vision’ to see Aidamm to unprecedented success. Since the pandemic, the online business community has expanded, capitalising on the added time people have been spending online. Crawford identified the opportunities early and did not let fear slow him down.
Springing into action when COVID-19 forced furloughs, layoffs, and business closures. He saw that people needed to get groceries without leaving the house, and other companies were taking too long to pivot to selling online. Businesses had to either adapt or die. Meanwhile, the eCommerce industry was booming. Over time, the vision for Aidamm expanded beyond groceries, becoming a comprehensive online hub for small businesses, driven by the desire to improve the Caribbean’s online shopping and delivery experience. Crawford focused on building an eCommerce and marketing platform where SMEs could market their products and services and deliver them to a global market in several convenient ways.
Being the new kids on the block in the eCommerce space gave the Aidamm team a significant advantage as they studied what their competitors were offering and how they could provide better solutions.
Many small businesses struggle with the cost of developing a website and the challenges of accepting online payments without the bureaucratic red tape that comes with financial institutions. Aidamm has masterfully solved both of these problems as vendors can list their products or services online, where there are no barriers to entry. This platform, in turn, will create new market acquisitions and help businesses tap into and cultivate recent sales and revenue opportunities. They have secured the approval of international payment gateways such as Stripe, Apple Pay, Mango Pay, PayPal, RazorPay, and bank transfers. In addition, Crawford has managed to secure partnerships with DHL, FedEx, USPS, and Australia Post to ensure that items can be shipped and tracked around the world with complete transparency.
“We believe in the digital space’s power to transform how people live and connect with each other and provide world-class technological and infrastructural support that our customers – whether vendors or buyers – can leverage to expand their reach and connect more effectively,” said Crawford. “We have positioned ourselves permanently on the leading edge of innovation, finding the best wholesale and retail products, services, and eCommerce solutions for our users.”
Aidamm envisions greater access for Caribbean small and medium enterprises to the global economy and a way to accept foreign currency payments online. This platform will enable them to generate more income to grow and operate safely and efficiently.