Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Parallel18 to kick off 3rd generation of its pre18 accelerator program

By on September 16, 2020

Eduardo Padial, Parallel18 operations director

From e-commerce to biotech, 45% of the 42 companies are women-led

SAN JUAN — Startup accelerator Parallel18, an initiative of the  Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (STRT), announced that 42 Puerto Rican startups will participate in the third installment of its preparatory or pre-acceleration program, pre18, starting Nov. 9.

The announcement follows an eight-week open call and a comprehensive evaluation of 330 startups. The selected ones focus on various industries such as e-commerce, tourism, media and advertising, health and biotechnology, manufacturing, IT and gaming.

Parallel 18 aims to provide support to these ventures through two programs: pre 18, which works exclusively with Puerto Rican companies to offer guidance at a more preparatory level; and P18, the global acceleration program for further-developed companies.

The selected pre18 companies will receive a $20,000 equity-free grant. Additionally, they will participate in a 12-week training curriculum that includes networking events, and ongoing support from a team with expertise in high-level entrepreneurship. 

The pre-accelerator aims to close the gap between business education and financing to allow Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to dedicate themselves full-time to their projects, explained Eduardo Padial, Parallel18’s director of operations.

“Pre18’s mission has been to support entrepreneurs who use innovation as a tool to solve local problems that, at the same time, have a global reach. That’s what we’ve seen come alive during this third open call: diverse projects led by equally diverse teams that are prepared to commit full-time and take their solutions beyond Puerto Rico,” Padial said.  

The operations director said that this year’s selection of 42 companies, instead of the usual 40, was due to the high quality of the companies that applied, which led to a very competitive selection round. Padial also said the pandemic has not been a deterrent in their efforts.

“With Covid-19, what we see are entrepreneurs actively developing solutions to appease the various problems that have arisen in recent months. For Puerto Ricans, the key is to set out to solve things immediately without waiting it out in uncertainty. That is the kind of mentality that we want to continue stimulating through this new edition of pre18,” explained Sebastián Vidal, who leads the innovation efforts at the science trust.

Vidal highlighted how the program’s alumni are a testimony to the support they received from pre18 and the trust. For example, PRoduce launched a virtual market place to support farmers during the pandemic and has since tripled the number of subscribers to its local products delivery service. Vidal also spoke about Abexus, saying the startup has been a key player in understanding the economic impact of Covid-19 in Puerto Rico.

To be eligible for pre18, applicants had to meet the program’s basic criteria: be a Puerto Rican company with an innovative component and an exportable product with its MVP ready to launch. These requirements guide companies to qualify for P18 eventually. The main goal is that the startups participating in the preparatory curriculum can complete a full acceleration cycle through both programs. 

Thirty-three companies have participated in the two curriculums, and more than 70 Puerto Rican businesses have graduated from pre18.

The companies selected for the third generation are Cuela, Salón Boricua, BASED LLC, Corewell, Remora, BOON AutoParts, Evocare, Löfte Natural Care, VitaRx LLC, Caproni, Seed Law LLC, HALLÒ App, Pintá, Pal Muakiti, A MEDIAS, Zeerez, WindowME, VeoVeo Studios, Materia Madura, Paperwork, Vestigium Environmental, Cacao 360 (Semila), TerraFirma, Vive la Van, RumRatings, Arrecife Beachwear, Maranta Power, 9millones, Patria Tours, VITAL, Little Things, TALE, CRANEeH, Surgical Nutrition Solutions, Poltags, Equal Love, Bana, Pryze, Piloto Mail, GearPrices, Don Rifa, and Genzier.