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Red Ventures, Forward787 announce 2nd cohort of leadership accelerator program

following a successful first edition of its leadership accelerator program, North Carolina-based Red Ventures and investment fund Forward787 has opened the call for its second cohort, which will begin Mar. 12, executives said.

The application deadline is Jan. 17 to select the second group of participants from Puerto Rico and the diaspora, in the areas of business development and engineering, to train them at the company’s headquarters for 18 months.

Once they graduate, they return to Puerto Rico as part of the Forward787 team to lead firms that are bought, founded or part of Red Ventures’ current portfolio in Puerto Rico.

FWD787 is a program created by Red Ventures founder Ric Elías, to help restore Puerto Rico’s economy after Hurricane María. The FWD787 program has a $100 million fund to finance activities, including the business education that participants receive through the methodology of “learning by doing” (on the job training).

As part of the cohort, the program will help pay for relocation costs for participants of all professional levels, including recent college graduates or experienced.

The company is working with Young Entrepreneurship Education System Inc. to drum up participation.

“The learning level of this platform is one of exponential acceleration in the learning curve. In Yees! we estimate that it will take the academy a Baccalaureate, a Master’s degree, a Doctorate with a list a thesis and three ‘capstones’ projects; and even then it would lack the practical part at real-time, which is what makes this program so special,” said Carlos Jiménez, co-founder of Yees!

“The Business DNA that the participants are acquiring is very different from the one that permeates in the island,” he said. “In FWD787 through the application of knowledge in real time, each challenge becomes an opportunity.’

This program can be said is “a business accelerator on steroids,” just as important for the island’s economic development as was Operation Bootstrap, with the mitigating factor of not depending on macroeconomic incentives, he added.

Upon arriving at the Red Ventures campus in North Carolina, the first group of 40 were split into several sub-groups composed of four to six members.

Each team was assigned to participate in one of the different Red Ventures business verticals: Disrupt, cards, technology, banking, MaC, corporate support and home connect.

“All in different positions and functions, not necessarily aligned with their professional profile. This is so to polish them at different levels of the business areas,” he said. “Among which we could identify: administrative, engineering, human resources, operations and sales. Honoring one of the phrases used by Red Ventures to inculcate the culture of challenging the status quo at all times: ‘Everything is written in pencil’.”

During a visit to the company in early November, Jiménez said participants lagged behind in the use of software and their application in the business world but made presentations with a high command of the language of business — English.

“In each of the presentations, they used the term billions of dollars as if it were a common currency. A company whose value exceeds a trillion dollars is called a ‘unicorn’ because they are very difficult to find,” he said.

“If we take into account that in Puerto Rico there are no local companies that could create this mentality, and the few existing ones are family businesses that have not shared their platform so that new entrepreneurs can benefit as Red Ventures has done with the participants,” Jiménez said.

“So, what we’re talking about is about changing the Puerto Rican business paradigm and betting on growing business globally, since the inception. Definitely, Elías has opened his world class platform to transform the economy of Puerto Rico and that can strengthen the export mentality,” he said.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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