Puerto Rico business support network Colmena66 publishes impact report

(Screen capture of www.colmena66.com)

Measures new entrepreneurial ecosystem connections

SAN JUAN – Colmena66, a business support network that operates under the direction of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and is affiliated with SourceLink, an organization established with the support of the Kauffman Foundation, announced Wednesday the results of its impact report for 2018.

The network focuses on startup assistance in areas such as business plans, mentoring, financing, and the requisite sales and marketing, while connecting and pointing entrepreneurs to support organizations, as well as government-backed programs and educational resources.

At the end of its second year, Colmena66 now has more than 200 organizations and programs in its network. The report highlights the growth of the support network for entrepreneurs and small businesses and includes key performance Indicators of projects such as Tu Camino Empresarial and Boricua Emprende Fest.

Colmena66, or C66, helps entrepreneurs find the resources they need for their businesses through the Resource Navigator and a live chat on its website, www.colmena66.com, and telephone hotline, through which its team learns about the specific needs of entrepreneurs.

The network then taps it resource partners, organizations that provide business support, to whom the entrepreneurs are referred, all while “identifying and addressing gaps” to shore up entrepreneurs’ standing, as well as facilitating access to beneficial events and workshops.

“Just as beehives serve several purposes, such as honey production and cross-pollination, Colmena66 has created an infrastructure to support, build and measure the development of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Puerto Rico. That is the basis of every initiative we develop and we are excited that we have already begun to see results,” said Denisse Rodríguez Colón, executive director of Colmena66.

The network increased its number of affiliated organizations by 20%, and reported having received more than 1,000 phone calls, and 7,443 requests through its online resource browser. Colmena66 made over 1,200 business referrals to network organizations, and published more than 1,300 events and workshops on its calendar.

“Providing the right tools to our entrepreneurs is fundamental and it is precisely through programs such as Colmena66 and its initiatives that we are achieving and bringing together such an important community to encourage, now more than ever, the economic development of our country,” Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, a nonprofit that seeks investment to foster job creation in the knowledge economy, said in a release announcing the network’s impact report.

C66 has implemented three main initiatives: Red Colmena66 Meetups, Tu Camino Empresarial and the Boricua Emprende Fest.

Red Colmena66 Meetups gather resource partners to discuss challenges and identify solutions to address gaps in services and programs. The meetups take place across the island to ensure “a diverse range of visible access points or onramps for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and regions,” a C66 release reads.

Tu Camino Empresarial, which serves as a map for entrepreneurs and business owners with the network’s affiliate organizations. The initiative involved an event tour with stops in Mayagüez, Ponce, Gurabo and San Juan, to which more than 1,000 participants registered, and included more than 280 mentoring sessions. Some 30 business support organizations participated per event, and more than 2,000 printed copies of the map were distributed, while some 800 maps were downloaded from the website www.tucaminoempresarial.com.

Boricua Emprende Fest (BE Fest) will be an annual event to celebrate entrepreneurial talent, as well as serves as an educational spotlight on business development at all levels. Its first edition last month had 1,157 participants from across the island and several states. It featured 72 speakers and 32 sessions. The BE Fest facilitated expert mentoring on intellectual property, exports, business development, access to capital, development of business plans, legal matters, among others, from Parallel18, a business accelerator program that co-invests in those with potential, and Animus, an organization that holds conferences and networking events focused on professional women.

See the results of C66’s second business impact report here: www.colmena66.com

Hundreds of entrepreneurs to gather Friday at Boricua Entrepreneur Fest

The event’s organizers (Screen capture of www.boricuaentrepreneurfest.com)

Conference will feature about 30 lectures, workshops

SAN JUAN – Colmena 66, a specialized nonprofit network that connects entrepreneurs with resources that was launched by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT), is holding the first edition of the Boricua Emprende Fest (BE Fest), or Boricua Entrepreneur Fest, to educate about growth at all levels and continue to “foster an inclusive and collaborative business community” on the island.

Themed “Come To Connect, Stay To Grow,” the conference takes place Friday, March 22, at the Puerto Rico Convention Center from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Intended for all audiences, including the Puerto Ricans abroad, the academic community, the public sector, financial institutions, investors and business support organizations, its objective is to boost entrepreneurship and educate businesspeople about how to identify the specific resources available to grow depending on the type of business and stage of development, using the “Tu Camino Empresarial,” or “Your Business Path” guide.

“After Hurricane María we have seen a large increase in hundreds of entrepreneurs who decided to undertake opening or developing businesses, but we have noticed that many need guidance and tools and call us at Colmena66 to design a unique plan through the map Tu Camino Empresarial,” Denisse Rodríguez Colón, the executive director of Colmena66 and BE Fest project director, said in the event’s announcing release.

Lucy Crespo, the research trust’s CEO, added that the conference “will be an opportunity for all those who wish to venture to benefit from all the specific guides and benefits that allow them to boost their business concept or grow their established business “

The event will be attended by about 70 business support organizations, with which entrepreneurs can connect during a section dubbed “El Panal,” or “The Hive.” In addition, participants can register to receive mentoring from local and foreign entrepreneurs, as part of a collaboration with Animus, which holds a yearly summit dedicated toward the personal and professional development of women, and startup accelerator Parallel18, another research trust program operated in collaboration with the island’s economic development department

The event will also feature a market where microentrepreneurs and farmers can showcase their products through a collaboration with Brands of Puerto Rico, Santurce Pop, AgroInnova and Agricultural Recovery.

The numerous lectures and workshops will delve into legal issues, exporting, communications, marketing, brand growth, sales, product development, finance, product design, prototyping, business models, brand development, idea validation, strategy planning, capital and budgeting, among others.

The event’s agenda can be seen at www.boricuaentrepreneurfest.com. For more information, visit www.boricuaentrepreneurfest.com.