Queso Kbra, Molcajete Foods, and PRatian walked away with the top three awards Grupo Guayacán granted Thursday night, as the 12th edition of its annual EnterPRize awards ceremony, which recognizes outstanding entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico.
A total of 26 semi-finalists were selected to participate in this year’s competition. From this group, 17 start-ups moved on to the finalists’ phase, competing for $110,000 in seed capital prizes sponsored by GGI and a group of corporate partners.
Queso Kbra, Molcajete Foods, and PRatian received cash awards of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. Queso Kbra, the first goat cheese manufacturer in Puerto Rico, also received the ($12,000Agribusiness & Food prize sponsored by Puerto Rico Farm Credit, Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, and Caribbean Produce Exchange.
The company also won an additional $4,000 award recognizing its innovation within the agriculture industry, sponsored by Puerto Rico Farm Credit, for a total of $41,000 in seed capital.
Molcajete Foods is a local manufacturer of premium white corn tortillas for the restaurant and retail markets under the brand name Tortillas Doña Lola.
Meanwhile, PRatian also received the $5,000 Innovation and $2,500 Student Entrepreneur prizes, sponsored by Ferraiuoli LLC and Entrepreneur’s Organization Puerto Rico Chapter, respectively, for a total of $17,500 in seed capital.
PRatian’s first product, HydroPearl, helps improve the efficiency of irrigation in industrial agriculture. GGI’s three winners will also receive billboard space valued at more than $240,000, sponsored by BMedia.
Six other start-up teams also won cash and in-kind prizes granted by the competition’s sponsors. Another of the night’s main prizes, Social Enterprise ($10,000) sponsored by Banco Popular, went to étnica, a media platform that highlights and promotes Puerto Rican diversity.
The online marketplace for emerging designers Aguja Local received three prizes: Creative Industries ($5,000) sponsored by the Puerto Rico Trade & Export Company, Woman Entrepreneur in STEAM ($5,000) by Oriental Bank, and Sharing Economy, which grants office space at Piloto Café valued at $3,000 sponsored by Piloto 151.
Dame un Bite, a food delivery company, received the Customer Experience ($5,000) prize sponsored by Liberty Puerto Rico. The winners also included: FRESH Export Solutions, winner of the Maritime Community ($5,000) prize by TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico; VermiPacks, winner of the Environmental Conservation ($5,000) prize by FirstBank, and BrainHi which received the Tech prize granting a coding course valued at $6,000 by Codetrotters.
The ceremony also included the graduation of the 2017 Guayacán Venture Accelerator. The graduating companies were: Huertas College, Ingellicom, MedPlus Solutions, Mayaguez Optical Manufacturing, PeterPaul Electronics, Telecontacto, The Paperhouse Corporation, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, YCS PR, and Zimmetry Environmental.
“At Guayacán, we feel immensely proud to share the accomplishment of this new class of Puerto Rican entrepreneurs, who have demonstrated unyielding commitment to their businesses, even when faced with great challenges,” said Laura Cantero, executive director of Grupo Guayacán.
“The class of 2017 holds a special place in the history of our organization, and it is with great satisfaction that we celebrate their accomplishments surrounded by the extended family of Guayacán collaborators and sponsors,” she said.
“Within this historical juncture, it’s important to recognize our new donors to the Guayacán Endowment Fund who, through their demonstrated commitment to Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurs, help us to protect and strengthen Guayacán’s future so we can continue to serve our entrepreneurs, and Puerto Rico,” she added.