This summer, Grupo Guayacán will pick 15 local companies to participate in the Guayacán Venture Accelerator, a program that includes advanced executive education, as well as feedback from local and international investors to support the companies’ plans for expansion in Puerto Rico and beyond.
The GVA is the only program of its kind in the Caribbean, instructors include professors from the top business schools in the world, as well as other high caliber professionals. Interested companies have until May 30th to submit their applications online, organizers said during the recent launching of the initiative’s fifth edition.
The event held at the Puerto Rico Science, Research and Technology Trust gathered more than a dozen local companies looking to accelerate their growth, as well as government officials who pledged their support to the initiative.
Francisco Chévere, executive director of the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company announced a collaboration with Grupo Guayacán that includes a module on export consortiums for local companies interested in taking their products and services to international markets.
Companies interested in applying for the GVA will be able to attend the export module which will be held in May. In addition, the Trade and Export Company will sponsor the participation of three companies in the GVA.
“We’re confident that the skills acquired through this innovative program are a force of change that drives business development while helping to diversify the economic activity of Puerto Rico,” Chévere said.
During the event, attendees learned first-hand the challenges and opportunities of exporting, as well as the benefits of participating in Guayacán’s programs, from a panel of local entrepreneurs who are program alumni, moderated by Ángel Pérez of Rock Solid Technologies and composed by James Connor of Acrecent Financial, Carlos Cobián of Wireless Idea, and Ramón Riancho IV, of Indusa, who participated in Guayacán’s business plan competition, EnterPRize, in 2005.
“We doubled the size of the company and tripled profits. Before, exports represented 10 percent of our business, not that number has grown to 40 percent,” Pérez said. “The program was intense and provided great content, we were able to change our business model in three months.”
“This is what has allowed us to achieve great results with our company,” he added.
The GVA will fun from August to December, with modules during alternate weekends. In addition to the educational component, the program offers an additional module where participating companies get the opportunity to present their expansion plans and capital requirements to local and international investors.
The “Demo Day” will include investors from various countries and regions, including the U.S. mainland, Canada and Latin America.
“One of the main achievements of the program was to establish a network of contacts among our participants and, therefore, possible connections in all countries in which they operate,” said Laura Cantero, executive director of Grupo Guayacán.
“This year, we expect to continue growing this network, by providing new content and new opportunities to participants and graduates of our programs,” she said.
The GVA is designed for growing companies with proven business models, a list of steady customers, and a skilled management team capable of effectively implementing the strategies and lessons learned from the modules. Selection criteria for the program includes: the scalability of its business model, expertise and commitment of its management team and evidence of sustained growth.