Cayman Islands financial analyst Albert Voaden established online retailer CayGoods after noting the regions’ shortage of large home products that Caymanians can order online and quickly receive. To help, he created CayGoods to serve the islands as a seller of appliances and furniture.
“I recognized Cayman Islands’ lack of online resources,” Voaden says. “There’s not that much of a selection here. My hope with CayGoods is that we will be able to provide a much larger variety of products available to customers here.”
Voaden created CayGoods as the go-to Caymans resource for a selection of home goods, including sofa sets, refrigerators, lawn mowers, table sets, and electric ranges. There is no brick-and-mortar storefront; the business is online at www.caygoods.com, and a local warehouse houses most merchandise. CayGoods offers about 50 in-stock items and 220 or so that are not currently in stock but are available from a southern Florida supplier.
“If the product is in stock, we can deliver it to the customer within two business days,” Voaden says. “If it’s not in stock, we will give the customer an estimated arrival time.”
Beyond being a tax haven, the birthplace of the mudslide cocktail, and one of the most expensive places on earth, the Cayman Islands has the largest population in the western Caribbean Sea. This self-governing British Overseas Territory includes three islands containing approximately 67,100 people.
Here’s where headaches arise: The islands possess few natural resources to produce commodities. So, instead of manufacturing physical goods, Caymanians have created an economy based on tourism and finance. The resulting economic windfall has been transformational for the region’s population. But like citizens of other small island nations, residents must meet virtually all their consumption needs through imports.
This lack of retail convenience is frustrating because the majority of Cayman’s residents are high-income earners with cash to spend. Add to that the difficulty customers have in bringing large appliances and furniture back to their homes from local stores if they don’t own a truck.
“Customers can go into a retail shop for the smaller items because it’s easy for them to pick such items off the shelf,” Voaden says. “That is why I’m focused on sizable items. I’m going after the customers who want to buy those.”
In addition to being a financial analyst, Voaden is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience importing goods from North America to the Cayman Islands. He assessed market demand for products and concluded that Caymanians would desire CayGoods’ merchandise mix.
“Everyone needs appliances and furniture,” he says. “So, I don’t think this is a very risky industry. There’s proven demand for it. Longer-term, I would be happy with the current product offerings. I might expand a little more into a larger variety of construction materials.”
Voaden would consider adding more impact-resistant windows to the mix. The Cayman Islands’ strict building standards require that developers use high-impact windows designed to withstand the rigors of hurricane season.
Voaden has a decade of experience in Caymanian real estate, banking and government agency work. Such industries are concentrated in George Town on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, where the capital is located and where he lives. As a financial adviser and entrepreneur, he has helped local startups by determining the economic viability of their business plans.
Originally from Canada, Albert Voaden didn’t plan to stay in the Cayman Islands for more than 10 years. He initially worked on the islands as a financial analyst for DART Enterprises and CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank. Over time he built a successful investment strategy with a portfolio that has consistently outperformed the S&P 500.
When Albert Voaden clocked in 10 years of life in the Caymans, he realized he couldn’t leave paradise. He has now been in the Caymans for 18 years and is an enthusiastic supporter of his adopted home.
Voaden decided to start CayGoods because he needed a change, “something more human than just looking at numbers all day.” He hopes to improve the quality of life on the islands by offering the products and services of CayGoods.
“In economics, I think we can often get trapped into doing things the same way,” Voaden says. “But I have that spirit of always looking for value and asking myself, ‘How can you improve upon things? How can you make things better?’”
Voaden also asked himself what skill set he could contribute to an online startup targeting Caymanians exclusively. In addition to his financial chops, he possesses digital illustration and computer animation skills, which he learned as a Canadian university student. This background assisted him in designing the company’s website and visuals.
“CayGoods is quite a combination of my past 20 years of experience,” he says.
Initially, Albert Voaden will market CayGoods by advertising on EcayTrade, a popular classifieds website that serves the Cayman Islands. Then he plans to advertise on the radio and hire a marketing team whose primary focus is promoting CayGoods on social media.
“Facebook is the most common form of social media in Caymans,” he says. “So, I’ll be getting a Facebook page and relying on my marketing team to execute the best possible marketing strategy for CayGoods.”
Voaden says he has aligned with his import partners to offer the best online shopping experience available on the islands. But kicking off a new business isn’t without growing pains. The current supply chain problems, for example, nag at him.
“A lot of patience is required,” he says. “Hopefully, that situation will get a bit better with time.”
When he isn’t advising small business owners or being entrepreneurial himself, community-minded Voaden seeks opportunities to volunteer. He most recently donated to crisis relief efforts in Ukraine through the American Red Cross. His long-term goal is to start a hedge fund that solely invests in charitable causes.
Albert Voaden has also volunteered for years at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SATC), where his wife, Kim Voaden, is the director. SATC provides vocational training and therapeutic day programming for special-needs adults in the Cayman Islands.
In his downtime, Voaden is an avid scuba diver. His favorite Grand Cayman diving spots are off the shores of Macabuca, a bar and restaurant, and at the full-service dive operations Sunset House and Don Foster’s.
“That’s a great luxury of being in the Cayman Islands,” he says. “There are so many good dive spots here.”
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