Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Parallel18 announces its first all-Puerto Rican P18 cohort

By on April 22, 2020

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Business Acceleration Program’s 8th Generation Made up of 14 Local Companies

SAN JUAN — In order to continue to fulfill its mission to support high-impact entrepreneurship on the island, even amid the pandemic, the startup initiative parallel18 announced the selection of 14 Puerto Rican companies that will make up the eighth generation of its accelerator, P18.

Since the nonprofit Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust launched parallel18 in December 2015, more than 3,300 of startups from around the world have applied for the program.

The group of companies selected for this cohort showcases the growth from parallel18’s pre-acceleration program, pre18 alumni Outcome Project, Fitverz, Beauty 911, Raincoat, LabbGo and affiBox; while it welcomes startups Barras Jabón Artesanal, Guardian Systems, Homebase, EventRay, STRAIN, The Pop’d Shop, Tasty Smart, and Dealer App Center.

Initially contemplated to be made of up to 40 international and local companies, Gen.8 will mark the four-year-old program’s first fully Puerto Rican cohort, which will kick off their acceleration process remotely on May 18.

The decision to only select local companies came after “it became evident that the COVID-19 outbreak was becoming a worldwide threat. Because of this new reality, the international aspect of the program had to be readjusted to take into account the seriousness of the pandemic while still looking for ways to keep providing entrepreneurs with the kind of business education and connections that could help them move forward with their startups. Not knowing when travel restrictions would be lifted in many countries, and to ensure the well-being of the P18 staff as well as the startup founders, only local companies were selected,” the accelerator explained in a release.

“We had to reinvent ourselves. It was a tough decision, but one that we felt needed to be made given the times we’re living. Nonetheless, I have to admit that I’m very happy with the companies selected for this cohort. All of them complied with the program’s most demanding criteria: traction, diverse teams, and solutions that can grow beyond Puerto Rico,” parallel18’s executive director, Sebastián Vidal, said about the upcoming Puerto Rican generation, which will also serve as business continuity opportunity for startups that had participated in pre18.

“What we’ve been able to witness in the four years that parallel18 has operated, is that major challenges ignite creativity and make the way for crisis-relieving and long-standing solutions. We are certain we will thrive through the innovation-driven minds of entrepreneurs like the ones that will be participating in P18’s Gen.8. That is why we are excited as ever to continue with our commitment to support these companies in any way we can,” said Lucy Crespo, CEO of parallel18’s parent organization, the Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust.

“Something to highlight is the fact that the virtual character of this generation provides parallel18 and the Puerto Rican innovation ecosystem an opportunity like no other when it comes to the mentorship we’ll be able to provide,” added Vidal, who built upon the idea that the program can now reach out to even more experienced mentors.

By inviting them to impart digital mentor sessions rather than having them have to travel to the program headquarters in San Juan, parallel18 is hoping to create a more on-demand and flexible exchange between experts and the program’s startup founders. Something they explored with success during the last week of its Gen.7, the accelerator explained.

Apart from the custom, hands-on mentorship, Gen.8’s companies will receive a $40,000 equity-free grant, as well as access to a broad business network through parallel18’s Corporate Innovation Program, P18Connect. The results of this subprogram can be found in parallel18’s latest Impact Report.

The 14 companies will also be completing the acceleration curriculum as they come close to the chance of qualifying for additional funding from P18Ventures’ follow-up fund. The investment portfolio now totals $1.35 million awarded to 19 program alumni since 2016.

Tapping into global experience

Since the accelerator will have a smaller cohort, it said it has “some room to play” with regarding the budget and help the more than 190 companies that already went through the accelerator.

An Alumni Program with topics related to growing startups and adapting to tough times is being designed by parallel18 Operations Manager Eduardo Padial. The project will include individual sessions to work on specific topics related to the companies’ industry needs, and is also meant to integrate P18’s foreign graduates with the local Gen.8.

“The idea is that we’re able to give Gen.8’s startups the full international experience that parallel18’s acceleration program is meant to provide,” Padial said. “At the same time, we’ll be supporting the local and international companies that already went through the process and now have different needs due to the pandemic. By forging a connection between them and the new companies selected to participate in the latest cohort, we realized that we have a chance to create the right conditions to foment business relationships as well as further learning and growth opportunities for both the earlier stage local companies, from Gen.8, and the more mature ones, from past generations.”

Recent program startups have announced partnerships with fellow alumni, namely local startups DameUnBite with BrandsOf Puerto Rico, and Uva with Entregameds.

On April 3, P18 seventh generation held the accelerator’s first virtual DemoDay, in which 11 investors and more than 150 viewers participated.

Parallel18 is getting ready to launch its third open call for pre18, which through a pre-acceleration curriculum is meant to create a network that helps local startups go to market, gain “traction and develop a global mentality that can later on help them qualify for P18,” the release reads.

The pre-accelerator’s open call arrives at a time when entrepreneurs are developing ideas to aid the Covid-19 pandemic relief efforts.

“Programs like pre18 offer the funding and business guidance these founders will need,” the accelerator assured.

Puerto Rican companies will be able to apply for the preparatory curriculum starting May 11 for a chance to receive a $20,000 grant, as well as “high-quality business training in the form of connections, mentorship and the possibility of entering Gen.9 of P18,” it said who’s application period is expected to open in November.

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