Karla Lopez

Karla López, entrepreneur. (Courtesy Parallel18)

Parallel18 (P18), the global business accelerator operating since 2015, announced the selection of 36 Puerto Rican companies that will participate in its pre-acceleration program, pre18. The companies will be part of a 12-week training curriculum and each will receive a $20,000 grant for their projects.

This initiative that was created after Hurricane Maria to support and retain emerging entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico, is led by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT). The second generation of the pre18 arrives under the slogan "Puestos Pa’l Negocio", which alludes to the local entrepreneurs' willingness and determination in developing the innovative components of their projects that, in turn, make them exportable from the island. The idea is to take these Puerto Rican businesses to the world.

Agrobeads

José Couvertier, entrepreneur. (Courtesy Parallel 18)

After launching its second application call last March, a selection committee –– made up of entrepreneurs and experts –– evaluated about 254 applications.

Finally the selected companies were: Puerto Rico Trade, Raincoat, Cabezoodos, Beauty911, Find-It, LICKco, Sirena Patterns, Doggie Bag, Papio, Outcome, DirectLab, PickUp Waste, Prento Farms, Island Bound, TAIS, FitWallet, Fitverz, Affibox, ALQMY, Múkaro, LAB Analytics, FresH2O, PinLatino, Amasar, Synchrolog, Huerto Rico, Watric, BeanWards, Sharp Focus, Lattuga Organics, Estudio Gaia, INSU, Engineering Tech, My Healthy WOE, Cryptx and My DPO. These come from a variety of industries like Energy, Finance, Health, E-commerce, Biotechnology, Media and Advertising, Education, Tourism, Agriculture and IT.

Young Talent from the Local Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

The executive director of the program, Sebastián Vidal, highlighted the participation of young visionary entrepreneurs in this new generation. Vidal pointed out how that’s a result of a growing business ecosystem.

Of the selected companies, four were founded by students. Among them, is the particular case of BeanWards, whose founder served as an intern in a company from parallel18’s first generation back in 2016 and then in 2018 with another company from pre18’s first generation. During his first experience, he was 13 years old, while at the time of submitting his application for pre18 he was in the eleventh grade. After his early exposure to the island’s entrepreneurship community, he managed to create his own company with which he will participate in the program as the youngest founder of this generation while finishing his senior year of high school.

"What we’ve done with pre18 is to create a collaborative space where, in turn, local entrepreneurs receive all the tools they need to reach their initial market. We are more than excited with the results of this second call and with the strength, in terms of innovation, demonstrated by these companies, which are a 100 percent Puerto Ricans, " added Vidal.

On the other hand, Lucy Crespo, Chief Executive Officer of the PRSTRT said that for the organization, following up with pre18 is vital to continue strengthening the capabilities of entrepreneurship and innovation on the island. "We are very pleased with the results of the first generation of pre18 and we are excited to be able to give continuity to the program in order to keep creating a base of Puerto Rican companies with global potential," she said.

The curriculum begins on July 15th and will be taught by local and international mentors, so the work sessions can be in English or Spanish. One of the advantages offered by the program is that, at the end of the 12-week period, the 20 most outstanding companies go directly to the last phase of the selection process to enter the seventh generation (Gen.7) of parallel18. Hence, why pre18 is called a preparatory program.

The initiative was inspired by the slogan "El Boricua se las Inventa", recognizing the creativity that Puerto Ricans have shown throughout history and that came to light again in the aftermath of the hurricane. With this purpose, they have dedicated themselves to helping innovative businesses––which are in the early stages and have global potential–– to reach the market.

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