Colmena66, Parallel18 launch program for innovative co’s looking to grow
Colmena66 and Parallel18, both programs of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, recently launched the Xpand program, a new opportunity for Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that seeks to develop a support community for innovative companies.
The initiative focuses on equipping its founders with the necessary knowledge to take their companies to the next level. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico provided a grant to fund the program.
This initiative seeks to fill a gap in the resources available during the growth and expansion stage for innovative Puerto Rican companies that have been successful and seek to grow, but face challenges when it comes to scaling, identifying new markets for export, and raising capital to continue driving their growth, organization officials said.
According to the Status of Latino Entrepreneurship Study, led by Stanford University, 19% of Latino-owned businesses (LOBs) develop and sell a software or technology product, compared to 14% of Caucasian-owned businesses (WBOs) nationwide. However, once they reach the scale and grow phase, they stagnate because they have less access to capital.
The same study indicates that LOBs report average revenues of $1.3 million per company, while the average for WBOs is $2.5 million, for a difference of $1.2 million or 48% less.
Xpand provides a space where they can expand their knowledge in capital raising and export with peers and mentors, since these companies often have difficulty finding support programs that fit their needs, given the complexity of their operations and the fact that they require more specialized assistance than companies that are in their early stages or that are not focused on innovation, organization officials said.
“Xpand is the continuation of one of our high-impact goals at the Science Trust, which is to position Puerto Rico as an innovation leader, while strengthening the business ecosystem. Xpand joins our efforts to address a very important gap,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
“Certainly, we have a firm commitment to innovation and economic development, and above all, to our business leaders, who day by day impact their communities and put the name of Puerto Rico on high,” she said.
Meanwhile, Camille Burckhart, executive vice president and chief information officer and digital strategy officer, at Banco Popular’s Innovation, Technology and Operations Group, said “it’s very important to continue responding to the needs of entrepreneurs who are contributing to the economic development of Puerto Rico, creating new companies with innovative business models.”
“At Popular we have a firm commitment to support and invest in Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Projects like XPAND can positively influence entrepreneurs who excel in the field of technology,” she said.
“This initiative allows them to expand their possibilities in the market, while allowing them to have more opportunities for growth inside and outside Puerto Rico. We need to continue to push for more tools and resources that strengthen innovation ecosystems while supporting our economy and the development of local talent. Whether we achieve a robust economic environment with thriving and sustainable businesses depends on this,” said Burckhart.
Preparing innovative companies to raise capital and export
Xpand is a community of mentorship and support for founders of innovative companies with more than three years in operations, that generate more than $500,000 annually in revenue and that have the basic infrastructure to begin the expansion process.
Xpand provides free and flexible training that adapts to the agenda of those who participate, with meetings scheduled twice a month.
The community will include mentoring in the form of roundtables, with resources that have gone through the process that they will share with participants, best practices, and expansion strategies. Also, access will be provided to individual resources, adapted to the needs of each company on capital raising, product development, expansion of operations, export, and market research, among other related topics.
They will also connect with investment funds inside and outside Puerto Rico and other financing alternatives, but they will be facilitated access to resources that can assist with research and information to make informed decisions about the market to which they aspire to enter or grow.