Saturday, October 23, 2021

Bravo Family Foundation Announces Rising Entrepreneurs Program Winners

By on September 23, 2021

The Bravo Family Foundation (BFF) announced the winners of the second edition of its Rising Entrepreneurs Program (REP), an entrepreneurship acceleration initiative aimed to scale local tech and innovation startups with capital, mentoring, and curricula.  

Local startups Beauty 911, Sirena Patterns, and FindIt, which are all women-led, were declared the winners among a cohort of 10 finalists. They went through a six-month accelerator program designed to enhance their scalability in local and global markets and further develop the entrepreneurial skills of its founders. Each winning startup will receive a $60,000 grant.

The REP program provides critical, fundamental knowledge and extensive mentorship that shows company founders how to run their businesses more effectively and successfully and grow them locally and internationally. 

“By supporting the development of local entrepreneurs, helping them start companies with growth potential, we boost economic development in Puerto Rico,” said Orlando Bravo, Chairman and Co-founder of the Bravo Family Foundation and co-founder and Managing Partner of Thoma Bravo, one of the top private equity firms in the world. “We focus on designing and implementing the right sales and operations formulas to run a particular business efficiently, teaching them how to grow with as little capital as possible so that the founders can keep a majority stake in their companies.”

Winners on a Path to Scalability

Beauty 911 is an online marketplace where users can search for beauty service providers in their area and book appointments to receive these services at home, the office, or an event. The startup’s founders attribute their win to their ability to apply the lessons they learned at REP.

“We put into action everything we learned, and we learned a lot,” said Carmen Medina, founder and CEO. “Learning what to do isn’t enough—you have to do it. Our determination to act on the knowledge we gained during the program paid off.”

And the most important lesson Beauty 911 learned? “Focus,” said Afa Juste, co-founder and CTO. “At REP, the focus was on how to grow quickly. This approach helped us focus on what would really fuel our growth—recruitment of more providers and expansion to other towns.”

Sirena Patterns is an online platform that helps users build a fashion business regardless of their location or fashion education. The company sells printed and digital patterns, fabric, and sewing kits and offers online courses on a variety of fashion and sewing topics.

The startup is betting on exports, which stemmed from the founders’ ability to demonstrate that Sirena Patterns is scalable.

“We can expand into dozens of countries and grow through multiple streams of income, not only selling digital products, such as the sewing patterns and the online courses but also developing recurrent revenue from new memberships,” said Tommie Hernández, founder and CEO.

Hernández said the REP experience was much more than she expected. “We were able to learn from what other companies are doing, and the mentorship was wonderful. In addition, the lessons, advice, and accessibility of the Thoma Bravo and Bravo Foundation team exceeded our expectations.”

The third winner, FindIt, is an online platform that allows users to post and search for real estate listings in Puerto Rico. It also automatically matches properties with potential buyers or renters.

“REP was an enlightening experience,” said Jubal Rodríguez, co-founder and CEO. “The program showed us the piece we were missing—how to run the business and capital to make it grow. The knowledge they give is very high level, -high quality, and not something that is usually accessible to startups like us,” she said.

“The company is well-positioned to provide homeowners, tenants, and real estate agents a unique and valuable service,” added Jaime Ginorio, co-founder and CTO.

The selection process for Bravo’s REP is a competitive one, with a variety of startups presenting diverse and innovative business concepts to gain acceptance into the program.

“We were very impressed with the diversity of industries, concepts, and potential of the startups and were pleased with the progress the 10 finalists showed throughout the program. It was challenging to choose the winners, and we are excited to accompany them and witness their growth,” said Blanca Santos, executive director of Bravo Family Foundation, adding that more than 50% of the REP startups in the cohort were founded by women. 

The seven other finalists that participated in REP’s Cohort 2 were Uva Group, Lick, Fitverz, Kiwi Financial, Psychonnection PR (Mente Serena), Abexus and Watric Energy. Each of the 10 finalists received a $30,000 grant, access to high-caliber local and US mentors, individual attention at REP’s office hub in Mayagüez and an entrepreneurial curriculum known as The Playbook designed by experts at investment firm Thoma Bravo.

Bravo’s REP kicked off in 2019 with its first cohort of startups. The winners of Cohort 1 were Skootel, CINCO Engineering and InsuHealth Design. The startup founders applied the lessons learned and mentorship received during the program to develop further and expand their businesses.