Science Trust touts successful ‘Startup Weekends’
As part of its mission to advance the island’s technological, scientific and business agenda, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust announced the achievements obtained from the Startup Weekends program at a closing ceremony last week.
Headlining the accomplishments was the group Safe Child, which formally established itself as a business within a year of having taken part in the initiative.
“The Trust is a strategic partner in this initiative and we lend our full support to the Center for Entrepreneurship in their activities. Together we drive the knowledge economy through the development of scalable business models. This, paired with scientific research and technology transfer, is key to our strategy for economic development in the [island],” said Iván Ríos-Mena, executive director of the Trust.
Nerma Albertorio-Barnes, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Inc., explained “being able to produce these events allows us to let people know that entrepreneurship is possible for everyone; all that is needed is experimentation and one can take part in activities such as these.”
The Startup Weekends held throughout 2014 by the Center for Entrepreneurship Inc. and with the support of the Trust, hosted 114 entrepreneurs, divided into 19 teams. Of the seven winning teams, six continue working on their projects even after the closing of the program, and three of these groups have formally established themselves as businesses in less than one year.
Among these is Safe Child LLC, a company that markets a security wristband for children that connects to their parents’ mobile phones. When the child strays too far from their parents, the wristband emits a warning to alert parents that their child is out of range.
“Startup Weekends helped in our creating a prototype and validating the business model,” said Christian Díaz, the company’s president.
Meanwhile, 32 percent of the ideas created during the Startup Weekends become bona fide startups in 2014. Eighty-five percent of the winners continue to pursue their respective business ideas.
The Startup Weekends in Puerto Rico are part of a global initiative aimed at promoting the development of business ideas related to technology, so as to turn them into successful businesses. This movement has managed to organize 1,068 events in 478 cities around the world.
The Center for Entrepreneurship Inc. held six Startup Weekends throughout 2014 in San Juan, Ponce, Mayagüez and Humacao. Among the other business ideas that sprouted during the activity were Pearcha, a microbusiness that locally manufactures eco-friendly and sustainable clothing; Vacation Crowd, an application that helps travel agents plan their customers’ vacations; and Electronic Sports League, a group that seeks to position the Island as an international destination within the videogame industry, by organizing world-class tournaments.
The Startup Weekends are designed so that small teams of entrepreneurs develop an idea in 54 hours. The business model is validated and a minimal product is viably developed. These events look to gather under one roof the creative, the programmer, and the entrepreneur so that together they may experience teamwork and create results. Also, a support program is set up for the winners, in which they are offered mentorship and technical assistance for them to get their project off the ground.