Some 20 entrepreneurs were honored last night during Grupo Guayacán Inc.’s year-end event. The business training organization awarded more than $200,000 in seed capital prizes to foster the development of a group of 17 emerging companies.
As part of the awards ceremony held at the Puerto Rico Museum of Art, the winners of the 14th edition of the EnterPRize business competition were officially presented by the organization, as well as the 11th edition of the Guayacán Venture Accelerator graduates, and the participants of other Grupo Guayacán programs.
“We celebrate the successful closing of another year in which Guayacán continued to sow seeds in Puerto Rico’s business ecosystem,” said Grupo Guayacán Executive Director Laura Cantero.
“We’re extremely proud of the results and impact of our business training programs, which not only provide our entrepreneurs with the tools they need to develop their businesses, but also seed capital to grow and turn their projects into engines of economic development for Puerto Rico,” she said.
“This year we broke participation records through all of our programs and granted the largest amount of seed capital in the history of EnterPRize. We’re very excited to share with the people the success stories of this new group of entrepreneurs,” she said.
Nearly 400 guests, including entrepreneurs, sponsors, investors and GGI collaborators attended the ceremony.
EnterPRize 2019 had 42 start-ups as participants, from which 27 were selected as finalists and 17 were winners of the different prizes given by Grupo Guayacán and its sponsors.
TeeChealo, a company dedicated to the creation of personalized garments, won first place in the competition, receiving a $25,000 prize. The second prize of $15,000 went to TAIS, a company that turns food and waste into compost. For the first time in the competition’s history, there was a tie in third place, so the $10,000 prize was divided between Raincoat, an insurance company that produces instant pay catastrophe policies, and the theater company Y No Había Luz.
Raincoat and TAIS were the big winners of the evening, adding Grupo Guayacán seed capital to special prizes awarded by other sponsors, raising a total of $47,500 and $37,500 in prizes, respectively.
There was also a tie in the surprise Investors’ Choice prize ($20,000), which was divided between Raincoat ($10,000) and Guilty, the clothing rental platform ($10,000). This award is sponsored by local and international investors who attended the Guayacán Demo Day.
Raincoat also won the prize for insurance technology sponsored by Assurant ($10,000), innovation award sponsored by Ferraiuoli LLC ($5,000), disruption award sponsored by Integro Success Unlimited ($2,500), consumer experience award sponsored by Liberty Puerto Rico ($10,000), and another one for excellence in customer service sponsored by TOTE Maritime ($5,000).
In the case of TAIS, the company also won the social innovation award sponsored by Grupo Ferré Rangel ($10,000), a social enterprise award sponsored by Popular, Inc. ($10,000) and green company award sponsored by Fundación Segarra Boerman e Hijos Inc. ($2,500).
Another company that swept the special awards category was Pública, a collaborative cultural space that raised $25,000 in seed capital, including the “Uno Con Puerto Rico” award sponsored by First Bank ($10,000), art and culture award sponsored by the Angel Ramos Foundation ($10,000) and “Hustler Team” award sponsored by Causa Local ($5,000).
Representing the agriculture sector, Moralito, a company that manufactures, sells and distributes ‘sofrito’ (Puerto Rican seasoning) made with natural ingredients, won a $12,000 prize sponsored by Puerto Rico Farm Credit, Caribbean Produce Exchange and Walmart.
Likewise, Huerto Rico, which grows and sells gourmet mushrooms, received the Puerto Rico Farm Credit-sponsored agricultural innovation award ($4,000). In the health innovation category, GrownUps, a company that offers educational and recreational services for older adults, received the $10,000 prize sponsored by the MCS Foundation.
The award for women entrepreneurs in science, sponsored by Titín Foundation ($10,000), was given to Entre Panas, a company dedicated to the production of food products based on breadfruit. Also, Grupo Encuentra Estudios, which seeks to develop an application to connect young students with a bank of information on academic offerings and higher education institutions, received the prize for entrepreneurial women sponsored by Oriental ($5,000) and the female impact award sponsored by the Diaz Rivera Family ($3,500).
The event also included a visitor economy prize, sponsored by Aerostar Airport Holdings ($5,000), that was granted to Fishi, a company that makes and sells items inspired by the coastal, nautical and island experience.
The student entrepreneur award sponsored by EO Puerto Rico ($3,000) was granted to the Rémora project, a machine created to eliminate chemicals, bacteria, biological contaminants and micro-plastics from water bodies.
Grupo Guayacán also collaborated with the second edition of the creative entertainment space Warehouse 1873, and as a result Heineken awarded a $5,000 prize in seed capital to Fermento Comio, a business project led by two participants of the I-Corps PR program, who are dedicated to the development of food products through the fermentation process.
Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers, Fundación Titín and Luis Alberto Ferré Rangel, new partners of the Guayacán Endowment Fund for 2019, were also featured as special collaborators as part of the closing remarks.