A trio of visionary co-founders recently opened the doors to SEAT Caribbean and are optimistic the phrase “have a seat” will soon hold added meaning throughout the St. Thomas business community. The custom co-working space bearing a decidedly appropriate acronym for Supporting Empowering Advising Training, SEAT Caribbean features an array of business-friendly configurations under one roof.
Co-founders Dr. Jennifer Sequeira, Beverly Goodwine, and Sonja Sulcer expect that the amenities available within the space, like high speed Internet, copying, faxing, mailbox, package receiving, and an on-site audio/visual technician, will fulfill entrepreneurial visions. In addition, the co-working space offers wellness services and training programs. Ultimately, SEAT Caribbean hopes to provide a network for startups, small businesses, freelancers, and more to work collectively and to form a business community.
The network of relevant business resources at SEAT Caribbean also serves as a Kiva Trustee. An international nonprofit, Kiva’s mission focuses on expanding financial help to underserved communities. As Goodwine explained, “We are proud to act as consultants and trainers in support of micro loans for small businesses.”
Realized by local design architect Lisa Donald and her team at DonGeo Designs & Management Group, the dual-level facility on the upper level of A.H. Riise Mall is a complex of glass-enclosed offices, private meeting spaces, a loft, open seating areas with desks and chairs, lounges, and private wellness rooms. One of 25 small businesses to win the 2019 Caribbean Innovation Challenge, SEAT Caribbean received financial assistance from Bacardi and Mercy Corps’ MicroMentor, with support from the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority. According to the co-founders, those funds went toward its creative design project.
Sleek, white tables fold away or can be placed together to create custom groupings. Laptop tables roll anywhere with ease, and throughout the ultra-modern facility of SEAT Caribbean, light fixtures balance with natural illumination. Chairs and coffee tables sit off to the side of an open kitchen where a center island holds the focal point for camaraderie, and complimentary coffee, tea, and water add to the atmosphere of creativity.
Sequeira, the firm’s executive director, emphasized, “In addition to flexible office space, we offer information and support to entrepreneurs.” The seasoned mentor and entrepreneur brings with her decades of experience in the world of business and academia. As a university professor, Sequeira has taught entrepreneurship at graduate and undergraduate levels and guided small business owners in pursuit of their dreams.
Reflecting on the supportive spirit of her new enterprise, Sequeira said, “Whether you come here for a single hour, a day, or as a full-time tenant, whatever your level, we consider you a member.” She added, “This is more than a place to conduct business. For many hardworking professionals, loneliness can be an issue. Our goal is to create a space where people can interact in a comfortable and welcoming setting.”
Goodwine, the firm’s wellness director, nodded enthusiastically. “This space is perfect for an art show and for musicians to perform,” she said. “We encourage creative people from all walks of life to gather here.”
A certified anti-gravity fitness instructor, athletic trainer, massage therapist, and corrective exercise specialist, Goodwine arrives to this effort with 30 years of education and experience in the public health arena. Prior to SEAT, she owned and operated Point Wellness AntiGravity Spa. Notably, SEAT Caribbean provides on-site massage services, and licensed massage therapists can rent a private wellness room to serve clients with a separate entrance and access to adjacent restrooms for a patron’s comfort.
Rounding out the threesome of co-founders, Sulcer serves as the chief innovation strategist. While discussing the visual appeal of SEAT, she said, “All the colors here are meant to inspire creativity and imagination.” The strategist is also founder of Caribbean Innovation Ventures and has developed and managed innovation and entrepreneurship training programs for an international audience at Stanford University.
Moreover, Sulcer is passionate about the success of The STEAM Incubator, SEAT Caribbean’s initiative for island youth. A fun and interactive program for students in the fifth grade up through their senior year, it introduces robotics, coding, and engineering. As Sulcer points out, the initiative “seeks to transform the lives of students in the Caribbean by preparing them for the jobs of the future, developing a generation of leaders who are passionate about Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math: STEAM.”
The trio of co-founders stress that whether individuals are searching for support for small businesses, looking for event space, or even a soundproof area for podcasts, SEAT Caribbean encourages them to ‘have a seat.’
SEAT Caribbean is located on the waterfront on the second floor of A.H. Riise Mall. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For additional information, go to www.seatcaribbean.com or call 340-474-1156.