Parallel18, a program operated by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, unveiled its latest Impact Report, which revealed — among other achievements — that the third and fourth generations of startups generated $24.5 million in sales.
A third of those transactions were related to their operations in Puerto Rico, according to the results of the international acceleration program. The report includes activity during the period after Hurricane María, which prompted the launch of pre18, a pre-accelerator focused on helping local innovative projects get to market.
Twice a year, p18 launches a global call for applications. Startups interested in joining the program are reviewed by an international panel of judges to select up to 40 companies each round. Since its creation in 2015, P18 has received 2,741 applications from more than 60 countries.
Between March 2017 and March 2018 (period covered in the second Impact Report) 99 companies were part of p18’s acceleration and pre-acceleration programs, 54 of those were Puerto Rican, the nonprofit confirmed.
The accelerator was launched in 2015 by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company to position the island as “an ideal platform for local and international early stage startups ready to scale to new markets.”
The report confirmed that the third and fourth generations of startups created 160 new jobs locally.
“Without a doubt, our program today is at a very different place than where it was a year ago when we published our first Impact Report,” said Sebastian Vidal, executive director of P18.
“Nobody expected that a hurricane would hit the island and with such devastating effects. In the days after the storm, we were all worried about the survival of the many initiatives that had been growing in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and that could affect future economic development,” he said.
“I’m happy to say that we made it through and the ecosystem is stronger thanks to the collaboration of multiple programs and organizations that came together to support entrepreneurs in the island,” Vidal said, noting “the results in this Impact Report are a testament of that effort.”
“In our case, we saw Generation 4 teams that recovered and exceeded expectations after the hurricane interrupted the operations of their young companies. We also embarked on the adventure to create pre18, which allowed us to meet hundreds of inspiring projects that are proof of what we all knew, that ‘boricuas’ are creative under any circumstance,” Vidal said.
While initially designed as a special edition of parallel18 to support the local economy after Hurricane Maria, pre18 was such a success that the organization has decided to make the local pre-accelerator a permanent program in 2019.
It will be a complement to the original international accelerator, that has kept an ascending reputation in the global startup ecosystem through its second year.
Pre18’s first group hosted 40 local companies, in concept phase or that has less than a year in the market. They all completed the 12-weeks curriculum and 16 of them earned a spot at parallel18’s Generation 5, that started in early August.
Each startup selected to be part of p18 programs receives a grant; entrepreneurial training and individual mentorship by local and international business experts; access to a network of potential customers and investors; support from an internal staff committed to help the startups achieve their goals, among other services.
Development of local capital
P18’s second Impact Report also offers updated information about generations 1 and 2, which have raised a combined capital of $11 million in the past year, and $2.68 million were from investors in Puerto Rico.
Among the p18 alumni in Puerto Rico, the biggest investment round was Abartys Health’s with $1.45 million raised entirely from local investors, including the accelerator’s follow-on fund P18 Ventures.
Vidal pointed out that those numbers show a development of a local community of angel and institutional investors, that are co-related to the maturing of the innovation ecosystem in the island.
Subprogram P18 Connect is one of the contributing factors for the increase in the local investment in p18’s alumni, with 34 corporate partners that establish relationships with the startups as potential clients, investors or advisors.
“The P18 team and I are thankful for the support of a broad network of professionals and entrepreneurs inside and outside of the island that volunteer in our programs as mentors, sharing their knowledge and offering valuable advice that are key to the success of our startups,” Vidal said.
“Also, we want to thank the local entrepreneurial ecosystem for opening the doors to the newcomers and contributing to the pipeline of Puerto Rican founders. And, finally, we want to express our gratitude and appreciation to our global community for the concerned calls and messages that turned into support for our programs, the startups and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane María,” he said.