Grupo Guayacán Inc. (GGI) kicked off SPRINGBOARD this weekend, its newest entrepreneurial development offering and the first program in Puerto Rico geared at preparing local start-ups to raise early stage capital in order to grow their ventures, the seed funding firm confirmed.
The program, which is sponsored by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund Prize, is delivered through a partnership with the Angel Resource Institute (ARI).
SPRINGBOARD will provide 10 high potential start-ups, selected through a competitive process, with the knowledge, tools, and resources to build and scale successful investable ventures through a series of educational workshops, coaching sessions, and one-on-one mentoring.
The participants represent a variety of industries and include graduates from other local entrepreneurial development programs, including I-Corps Puerto Rico, EnterPRize, and Parallel18.
The program’s custom curriculum, developed by ARI in collaboration with GGI, includes six workshops and multiple pitching practices with feedback from ARI’s broad network of angel investors. SPRINGBOARD concludes with a “Demo Day” in December, where top startups will pitch their ventures to a panel of local and international early stage investors. At “Demo Day,” Guayacán will also grant up to $50,000 in equity-free funding to top ventures.
“As Guayacán celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we are proud to continue innovating in our entrepreneurial development offering, tailoring our programs to the gaps in Puerto Rico’s ecosystem and the needs of entrepreneurs at different stages of growth,” said Laura Cantero, GGI’s executive director.
“Through SPRINGBOARD, we serve a critical need in the local ecosystem, access to education about investment in early stage companies. Through the program, start-ups will learn to look at their ventures from an investor’s point of view, understand what they need to consider before deciding to raise angel and early stage capital, and get an inside look at everything that goes into pitching, negotiating, and structuring a deal with investors,” she said.
During this kick-off weekend, participants had the opportunity to deliver pitches and learn about the expectations of early stage investors and the capital raising process from SPRINGBOARD’s lead instructor, ARI’s Vice-Chairman Troy Knauss. ARI’s Co-Chair, Susan Preston, will join Knauss as Co-Instructor for SPRINGBOARD. Preston is a world-recognized expert in angel financing, published author, and partner in various early stage funds throughout Western United States.
“At ARI, we are proud to continue strengthening our partnership with Grupo Guayacán. Throughout my visits to Puerto Rico, I am excited to see an emerging ecosystem that continues to evolve and strengthen,” said Knauss who has committed to personally investing in at least one of the graduating companies.
“Sue and I are looking forward to the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with some of the top start-ups on the island and continue to support their development,” he said.
A key component of SPRINGBOARD is access to a group of experienced mentors who will support companies throughout the program.
“As an investor, I’m excited to be part of this new program that will help familiarize start-ups with the process of raising capital and the expectations of early stage investors,” said Rodolfo Sánchez-Colberg, a partner at Parliament Capital, which manages a Puerto Rico-based private equity fund.
“In my experience, mismatched expectations between entrepreneurs and investors are one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when negotiating a deal. Also, as a mentor, I’m happy to interact with and support some of the top startup ventures in Puerto Rico,” he said.
SPRINGBOARD’s mentors received an exclusive training from Knauss at a Mentor Boot Camp, hosted by Guayacán prior to the program’s official start.
A highly diverse group, SPRINGBOARD’s inaugural cohort includes EnterPRize winners AgroTropical, Aseguratec, Semila, and Join-a-Join, as well as Parallel18 participants School Climate Solutions, Stellup and Tix.By. OBA Learn, grantees of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, Codetrotters, and Pick My Stuff complete the group.