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Unlock Capital’s 1st cohort raises $1.2M in venture capital

The Community Development Venture Capital Alliance (CDVCA) announced that the businesses part of their Unlock Capital cohort program raised more than $1.2 million collectively as the program ends its first edition.

The program started in May 2022 with 15 Puerto Rican businesses participating, as News is my Business reported, and consisted of a series of workshops and webinars to help them create an “Investment Readiness Plan” to pitch their projects to investors.

The 15 participating companies were:

  • Abacrop
  • Artesano Rum Corporation
  • Cuela
  • Dame Un Bite
  • Entre Panas
  • Gasco Industrial
  • Omics Global Solutions
  • Quibble
  • RumRatings
  • Terra Nostra
  • Trito Agro-Industrial Services (Tais)
  • Amasar
  • Aware
  • Buzzzy
  • Doña Lola Tortillas de Maíz

“Our goal was to get them ready to get money and help them make introductions with investors and people who might be interested in investing in them, such as banks, special community development special programs, and angel investors,” said Ernesto Villarini, executive manager for the Unlock Capital Program and vice president of CDVCA.

The program worked in a hybrid modality and the six webinars slated to complete the first cohort discussed a growth capital overview, equity investments, debt investments, how to engage with investors, and learning how to pitch their business.

Unlock Capital received 58 applications, interviewed 26 entrepreneurs, and selected 15 companies to participate, in industries like gastronomy, agriculture, technology, professional services, manufacturing, and others.

They were able to facilitate 18 educational workshops, 32 mentoring sessions, and 77 technical assistance sessions, as Villarini explained.

Villarini also mentioned that this first cohort was able to collaborate with the Mentor Capital Network, Banco Popular, Parallel 18, Rising Entrepreneurs, Invest Puerto Rico, Guayacán, Ferraiuoli LLC, Rockelis Partners and more.

“Applications opened up for the next cohort on Nov. 15, and in the next couple of months we will continue to interview companies and admit 15 new companies to the next cohort that will probably quick off on early spring, probably March or April,” said Villarini.

Throughout the program, they also offered pro bono legal consulting advice and technical assistance sessions with different platforms to help them raise money, like the Impeller platform created by Invest Puerto Rico.

Additionally, due to the passing of hurricane Fiona in September 2022, Unlock Capital provided support to the agricultural businesses that were affected and participating of their program, by connecting them with resources, insurance, and grants that were available.

“We had a farm in Añasco whose main raw material was plantain, which the island lacked after the hurricane, and we connected them with someone that distributes plantains, and they were able to import plantains to continue operations,” said Alejandra Jiménez, Unlock Capital program manager.

For their upcoming cohort’s second edition, Unlock Capital will be searching for companies in need of investments to grow their company in six to 12 months, wanting to raise at least $100,000 as Villarini explained.

Lastly, it is expected that the next participants can take part in the program in more in-person activities for better development and growth, as most of the recent 2022 graduates would have preferred more physical interactions.

The CDVCA manages $45 million for the Puerto Rico Fund for Growth for investing in Puerto Rico based funds.

Author Details
Author Details
Yamilet Aponte-Claudio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Providencia and is currently a junior at Sacred Heart University. Majoring in Journalism and adding a minor in sustainable development and foreign languages, she aspires to study law after obtaining her bachelor’s degree.

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