Global business accelerator Parallel18 (P18) announced the start of Pre18, a program dedicated to helping innovative businesses in Puerto Rico, in early stages, with global potential, to reach the market.
During a news conference, Parallel18 Executive Director Sebastián Vidal said the aim is to reach “local entrepreneurs with businesses at an early stage to take advantage of and benefit from this program, which has been created considering those Puerto Ricans who are ‘inventing’ to help the island get out of the current crisis. This is the moment to act, to get up and go the extra mile…from Puerto Rico to the World.”
Parallel18, which has been operating since 2015 as part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co., will give interested parties until Jan. 15, 2018 to apply to Pre18 and compete for one of up to 40 available spaces.
Once selected through an evaluation committee, the chosen Puerto Rican companies will participate in the program, which will include workshops and mentoring for 12 weeks and will receive a $20,000 grant.
The business development curriculum will be offered by local and international mentors, so the work sessions can be in English or Spanish. At the end of the 12-week period, the 20 best performing companies go directly to the evaluation of the selection committee to enter the fifth generation (Gen. 5) of the accelerator that will start in the summer of 2018.
Selected companies also have access to a package of services with local and international companies such as: Amazon Web Services, SendGrid, HubSpot and others, equivalent to more than $200,000.
“We must create companies and entrepreneurs that contribute their ideas and solutions that adapt to our reality,” Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo said. “The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and its Parallel18 program have immediately identified the needs that exist among island entrepreneurs and we are confident that this new program will help strengthen new Puerto Rican businesses with potential for development.”
Pre18 was designed after Hurricane María struck, as an opportunity to help Puerto Rican entrepreneurs stand up and take advantage of this crucial, challenging and historic moment so that they can prepare and expose their businesses to a next stage of growth, in an environment that allows them to “breathe motivation and look with optimism toward the future.”
For this reason, the marketing campaign for pre18 was created under the slogan “El Boricua se Inventa,” recognizing the creativity that Puerto Ricans have shown throughout history and that came up again in the weeks following the hurricane.
To qualify for the program, companies must have been established in the past three years with innovative projects with potential to reach international markets. They do not have to be incorporated, but if they are accepted they will be required to do so, Vidal explained.
In the case of software projects (applications, e-commerce or a digital service), companies must have an initial functional version with a business model. If instead, they are hardware projects or a physical product, the company must have an initial model or be ready to start manufacturing its prototype,” Vidal added.
To participate in the program it is required that at least one founder work full time on the project, from the Parallel18 offices in Santurce, during the period of the program and comply with the required activities.
Program applications are available at elboricuaselasinventa.com/apply. The application must be completed in English, since the evaluation will be done through the YouNoodle platform by international judges.
In addition, and for the benefit of people who currently do not have access to the Internet, Parallel18 representatives will be visiting different regions of the island from November to January, providing guidance and helping to fill applications. The complete itinerary will be available in the press and through social media networks.
“At PRIDCO we support initiatives like pre18 of parallel18, especially because it provides an innovative solution for small and medium-sized businesses in Puerto Rico, many of which have been strongly impacted by the current emergency,” said Erika Medina, chief business development officer at PRIDCO.
“We’re excited to see how more and more Puerto Ricans invent themselves and manage to contribute to the offer of products and services, and above all, we want to encourage them to think big and export services to international markets,” she said.