Blog | 26 North Yachts’ YLAI Fellow Takes 2nd Place in International Competition

November 18, 2016

26 North Yachts’ YLAI Fellow Takes 2nd Place in International Competition

Over the last month, 26 North Yachts has been honored to mentor a Fellow from the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI). The YLAI is a State Department initiative started by President Obama. As part of the program, fourteen young business and social entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean came to Miami in October, to spend about a month working with mentors to help develop business plans for their ideas for startup ventures back home.

On November 4th, the Fellows presented their ideas to a judging panel in a “pitch session” that was much like an episode of “Shark Tank” at Florida International University’s Brickell campus. The judges included Carlos A. Huerta, President and Founder of PLC International, Emma Wing, Business Advisor ITMS Group, a company she co-founded with her husband Robert Wing, and Christopher McKenney, media entrepreneur and CEO of Mango Media.

We were thrilled that our fellow, Ashleigh Rolle, took 2nd place in the competition!

YLAI Fellows 2016

The 14 Miami YLAI Fellows

“It’s Like an Uber for Boats”

Ashleigh who is from the Bahamas, sought our advice on how she could improve upon ways for Bahamians to travel more easily by boat throughout the 700 islands that make up the Caribbean nation. She presented her business plan for “Skipper,” an online platform that connects local commuters and travelers to boat captains operating in the Bahamas, “It’s like an Uber for Boats,” as Ashleigh explained it. Given the number of boat owners in the Island Nation, and that many of the areas that people need to travel to and from are only accessible by boat, Ashleigh’s idea was a natural. However, she sought our expertise in working out the logistical and financial challenges that needed to be overcome, and included in her business plan.

The YLAI program matched 250 emerging social and business leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean with local mentors in 21 city hubs across the U.S.; 14 of them did their residency here in Miami with the help of Global Ties Miami, a non-profit that has been facilitating citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational and professional exchange tours since the 1950s.

Speaking to the Miami Herald, Emilie Baird, Director of Programs for Global Ties Miami, said, “We were thrilled to host this group of inspiring young entrepreneurs in Miami. The YLAI program contributed to deeper community connections and collaborations, both internationally and locally.”

For the YLAI program, Global Ties Miami is collaborating with Meridian International Center, a U.S. State Department grantee and a premier nonprofit, global leadership organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., and at the local level, with Florida International University , Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) South Florida and The

International Student Company.

The Yachting Community Giving Back

Having once been a start-up with little more than an idea and a dream ourselves,  we were thrilled to give back, by sharing our experiences and expertise with Ashleigh, and we will continue to help her as she moves forward with Skipper back home. The yachting community by its very nature is a global community. Especially here in South Florida we recognize how closely tied are the marine and tourism economies of ourselves, and the nations of the Caribbean and South America. We are very pleased and excited to work with initiatives such as YLAI that not only give back to our young people, but help to build bridges across those few hundred miles of azure waters that separate our countries, to the benefit of both!

Obama and YLAI

President Obama Speaks at The YLAI Summit


It’s not always easy to stay on top of what’s new in motor yachts. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Sales Specialists, or call us at 954-900-9988.

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