Grupo Guayacán Inc. and Codetrotters Academy were among the 80 winners of the second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition announced Tuesday by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Each organization will receive a $50,000 cash prize from the government agency.
The goal of the competition is to provide an infusion of capital to qualified accelerators, providing resources to boost the startup and entrepreneurship communities around them.
“SBA is continuing to make advances in supporting unique organizations that help the start-up community grow, become commercially viable, and have a real and sustained economic impact,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.
“Through the wide-spread outreach of this competition, we are able to reach entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. My commitment is to make our resources available to 21st century entrepreneurs where they are, and these accelerators, also known as incubators and innovation hubs, are the gathering place for today’s innovators and disruptors,” she said.
The funding will allow Grupo Guayacán to strengthen its start-up offering by supporting EnterPRize, GGI’s Business Building Competition, which has operated uninterruptedly for the past 10 years. Throughout its history, EnterPRize has served over 1,800 start-up ventures, awarding over $800,000 in seed capital to more than 110 emerging entrepreneurs.
With SBA’s support GGI will continue developing EnterPRize by adding new courses to its entrepreneurial development curriculum, increasing mentoring opportunities for participants, and developing a brand-new demo day where finalists can pitch their ventures to a panel of early-stage investors.
Additionally, GGI will broaden its post-program support to participants by offering access to a wide network of professional service providers, continued development opportunities, mentoring, and tracking of each team’s progress beyond the competition. EnterPRize will continue offering equity-free seed capital to winning teams through its regular prizes and a line-up of special awards, or tracks, serving businesses in particular areas such as agriculture, environmental innovations, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs, and innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
In addition to SBA, EnterPRize is supported by a wide network of individual and corporate volunteers that serve as mentors and coaches for participating entrepreneurs.
“This partnership will allow us to increase our impact with emerging entrepreneurs through education, mentoring and access to capital. We are convinced that Puerto Rican entrepreneurs have the capacity to develop start-ups with global potential and the ability to achieve real economic impact. Through EnterPRize, we provide tools, resources, and capital to accelerate their ventures and increase their chances of success,” said Laura Cantero, executive director of GGI.
Meanwhile, San Juan-based hacker school, Codetrotters Academy, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, also received funding. Last year, the SBA bestowed the same award to Piloto 151, which founded Codetrotters Academy.
“Our goal has always been to be at the cutting edge of innovative programs and services that strengthen our entrepreneurship ecosystem and help entrepreneurs grow. This prize is a testament to our deep commitment to these goals,” said Sofía Stolberg, co-founder of Piloto 151 and Codetrotters Academy.
“Codetrotters Academy is a unique and unprecedented pillar in our tech ecosystem because we are both shaping and accelerating our tech talent pool and the next generation of innovators and disruptors on the island,” she said.
Codetrotters Academy will launch an accelerator next year as part of its commitment to move beyond just the teaching.
Michael McClure, founder of Cometa Works and Codetrotters Academy, said “the most talented students who have scalable business models and ideas will be offered a unique opportunity to receive funding, mentoring and other resources from our accelerator. If we really want to impact the Island’s tech ecosystem, we need to go beyond teaching how to code.”
Winners of the competition were announced by the SBA at the White House Demo Day earlier today and mentioned by President Barak Obama in a speech on innovation and entrepreneurship.
In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. This will allow the SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities, the SBA said.