Foundation for Puerto Rico sets path for scaling entrepreneurship

(Courtesy)

Starting in southern towns, will use grant, along with other specialized entities, to build model

SAN JUAN — Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) is receiving a $290,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation to fund the latest startup-assistance program of the local nonprofit that fosters social and economic development.

It is the first time the Kauffman Foundation, the renowned stateside nonprofit that studies and promotes entrepreneurship, has awarded a Puerto Rican entity a grant.

The initiative will include other important ecosystem organizations, announced FPR’s director of Strategic Projects and Alliances, Alma Fronteras, who added it would focus on business ideas that could stimulate the visitor economy, starting in the southern part of the island. 

The initiative will focus on the Ponce and Coamo region, creating a collaboration between all the organizations as a step by step curriculum, or “stepping stones,” Fronteras said, intended to help 15 entrepreneurs materialize their ideas into fully operational businesses. Meanwhile, the organizations working with FPR on this program will be looking to tweak the designed curriculum to offer a startup assistance model that can be implemented in other programs and areas in Puerto Rico.

“A project like this has a lot of importance and relevance, especially because of the historical moment [Puerto Rico] is going through, which requires more collaboration…,” said Alessandra Correa, founder of INprende, one of the organizations in the program. “I believe this is a new era for entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico that makes us reflect about how, as businessowners, we can stop looking at each other as competition and start collaborating.”

The first step will be made by INprende, which will reach out to potential participants and provide the educational and motivational components. Prospective participants will then gather during Start-Up Weekend, an event where their ideas will be evaluated. Fronteras said the ideas or business models presented do not need to be polished. “It can be an idea written on a napkin,” she said.

Afterward, Grupo Guayacán will take participants through its I-Corps program, which teaches entrepreneurs how to take advantage of opportunities that emerge from academic research, for example, and learn about potential markets by interviewing potential customers to see if their idea needs more refinement or changes, explained the group’s executive director, Laura Cantero.

For those who move forward, Centro para Emprendedores will provide the next component, technical assistance, in areas such as the permits process and legal requirements, while Causa Local will help secure financing through Kiva, an organization that offers credit and training to low-income individuals. 

Ana María Cintrón, founder and director of Causa Local, added that besides providing funds, the organization is looking to gauge participants’ “financial literacy” and improve upon it through education. All along the process, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust’s specialized nonprofit network to connect entrepreneurs with resources, Colmena66, will be by participants’ side for assistance, as well as monitoring the event to devise how the program can become a replicable model. 

Fronteras explained that the program will start by looking at some 500 ideas, of which 100 will be culled and then pared to 15 potential businesses, a process that Grupo Guayacán’s executive director described as “stepping stones can be seen as filters.” 

Cantero mentioned that the proportion of finalists is not uncommon, citing as an example, Grupo Guayacan’s I-Corps event in October, which had 70 applicants. She would like to see an increase in funding opportunities for the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

While stateside statistics show that only about 30 percent of business reach their 10th anniversary, both Cantero and Causa Local’s Cintrón argued that Puerto Rico has several differences that improve the staying power of startups. 

“A factor right now in Puerto Rico is that many people don’t have another option that is not entrepreneurship. It’s not a maybe, it’s not ‘I’m going to try it out,’ it’s ‘this or I have to leave the country.’ I think that is a catalyst for these businesses not closing,” Cintrón said, adding that 80 percent of the 140 business that have worked with Causa Local in the past three years are still open. 

Cantero also pointed out that Puerto Rico’s particular entrepreneurial ecosystem helps startups avoid mistakes that cause most other new businesses to fail.




Disrupt Week Puerto Rico promises inspiring keynotes, networking events and diverse programming

Celebrity fitness trainer Stephen Campolo to launch new platform at event

SAN JUAN — Disrupt Week, a technology and entrepreneur conference in Puerto Rico, takes place this year in San Juan’s El Convento Hotel on Oct. 19-26. The event is attended by hundreds of influencers and investors within the tech, entrepreneur, and startup ecosystem.

Technology enthusiasts from around the world will attend the conference, which features keynote speeches, discussions, networking events and programming focused on the future of technology.

Among the more than 50 speakers invited is Stephen Campolo, who rose to fame becoming an influencer on Instagram. The celebrity fitness model will launch a new platform during the conference.

“After only a few days at Disrupt Yourself you will be able to accomplish extraordinary results; in the areas that matter most to you in your life such as: business, relationships, confidence, leadership, income and productivity,” Disrupt co-founder Anthony Delgado says on the event’s page, https://www.disruptweek.com, adding that attendees “will be a part of the Disrupt Family and I will give you lifetime access to our private Slack & Facebook Groups where you can ask questions and connect with our global network of over 1,000 world class entrepreneur, visionaries, hackers and creators.”

Among the event’s sponsors are Forbes, Google Developers and Piloto 151, Puerto Rico’s first coworking network, which provided the space for last year’s Disrupt event.

The event’s website lists the following speakers and short bios:

ANTHONY DELGADO
Co-Founder, Disrupt

Anthony Delgado is an American Internet personality and serial entrepreneur who is mostly known for his work in Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur & Startup ecosystem. Anthony is the mastermind behind many of the most successful brands, businesses, thought leaders and best-selling authors throughout multiple industries. Odds are you’ve seen his consulting clients on hit TV shows, in popular magazines and on top podcasts and publications.
Anthony is also the host of the Disrupt Podcast where he interviews the most disruptive entrepreneurs, leaders and change makers in the world. 

JOHN MALOTT
Co-Founder, Build Your Empire

John Malott is the founder and Chairman of Build Your Empire. John has built global originations doing 100’s of millions of dollars and has helped thousands of people achieve financial freedom. John Malott has built organisations of over 100,000 distributers in 8 countries.
He has been featured in countless publications including, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, Success From Home, and USA TODAY.
John has built a solid reputation of helping others win and win big. John has only been with 2 network marketing companies in 24 years, so when he makes a move people pay close attention.

JENNIFER HOPP
Managing Partner, ATO Ventures

Jennifer, a long time resident of Silicon Valley, quickly fell in love with Puerto Rico after visiting as an angel investor and startup mentor. She has now completely immersed herself in the commitment and support of the island and recently moved to San Juan indefinitely. Founder and Managing Partner at ATO Ventures, Founder and Host of BizStart.Live, and Founder and Chairman of EMVY, LLC, all Puerto Rico companies – her expertise in venture capital and broadcasting has helped shape her mission in Puerto Rico; to boost and provide aid to the quickly emerging venture and tech ecosystem that she and Puerto Rico natives believe can transform the island and the world. In her words, “Puerto Rico is the most incredible place I’ve ever been. It is the people that make it special – passion, drive, determination, resilience and a love of life and people that surpasses common understanding. I love it here and know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that we can and will be the next global innovation hub!”

SAM BAKHTIAR
Founder, One Percenter

Sam Bakhtiar is a doctor, CEO, author, world-class bodybuilder, and multi-millionaire entrepreneur. He runs a fitness franchising business, The Camp Transformation Center, with 110 locations and two different supplement and nutrition companies. With a Bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in sports science and life science and a doctorate from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, Dr. Bakhtiar has helped over one hundred thousand people transform physically and mentally. He specializes in helping people get to the top 1% in any and every aspect of their life. Dr Bakhtiar applies his business acumen and coaching to The 1% Club, helping others to become a 1%er by rising above. He is also the author of the popular books The Total Body Transformation Secrets and Becoming a One Percenter.

JASON CAPITAL
Entrepreneur

Jason is the chairman of Capital Research International. He’s served as coach and consultant to Fortune 500 executives, professional athletes and Hollywood luminaries. He’s been recognized as a Top 100 Entrepreneur by The White House.

CASEY ADAMS
Co-Founder, Build Your Empire 

Casey Adams is a 18 year old Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur, and Public Speaker who has been able to turn his negative situation into a positive outcome. After almost becoming paralyzed during a football injury, Casey was able to start his journey by looking at ways to leverage social media.
Casey is the Founder of “Rise of The Young,” and runs a top 50 Business Podcast known as ” The Rise of The Young Podcast.” Casey is a brand strategist, and has worked with many top influencers in the entrepreneurial space. Casey is an advocate for branding, and he knows the power of a brand. He’s been able to build his personal following to over 300,000+ followers, and has helped other entrepreneurs do the same. Casey has had the privilege to travel all over the United States hosting mastermind events with over 200+ people at each event. At these events, Casey teaches personal branding, social media marketing, networking, and much more regarding social media.

JEREMYHAYNES
Entrepreneur

Jeremy Haynes helps entrepreneurs and influencers like Dan Lok, Garrett J White, Anik Singal and Fred Lam along with some of the worlds largest personality brands with scaled digital marketing. He spends $200k-$500k a week in ad cost between his clients, and manages several 7 figure businesses all while traveling and enjoying life. He started his marketing agency after leaving his job working for the sales training mogul Grant Cardone almost 4 years ago and has since made a massive impact on tens of thousands around the world. He’s taught in 3 different Tai Lopez Programs, He has a lesson in Mentor Box and has 1,900+ paid students in his mentoring programs teaching others how to start and scale their digital marketing agencies and how to learn all of his digital skills. His most recent venture is “Personal Brand University” which is dubbed the Harvard of personal brand courses, and with good reason given Jeremys background and track record of results.

GABY BERROSPI
Co-Founder, Latino Wall Street

Gabriela Berrospi graduated from the prestigious British school in Lima, which gave her the opportunity to be an honor student at NYU-one of the most coveted universities in the world. By living close to Wall Street and surrounding herself with this environment as a teenager, she embarked on her own business in the stock market from home. Now her passion is to share all her knowledge with the public, especially Latina women, so that they can rise to a higher level in their quality of life, especially in the area of ​​investments and finances.

ALEXQUIN
Founder, UADV

Alex Quin is a full stack marketing expert and global keynote speaker. He is the founder of UADV- a Forbes Accredited marketing firm with ties in the entertainment, fashion, e-commerce industries. Alex and his team specialize in scaling brands through strategic partnerships, content distribution, and collaborative marketing.
Alex is also the founder of Hustle Inspires Hustle – a global entrepreneurship & self-development platform. He is the host of Hustle Inspires Hustle podcast with guests like Andy Frisella, Jason Stone, and Jeff Cole. Now available on iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts.

PVNCH
Motivational Speaker / Influencer 

Pvnch born and raised in Brooklyn New York has managed to cultivate, lead and DJ for a list that consists of MTV Awards Nominees to Billboard Record Breaking to Multi-Grammy Award-winning talents including Young MA, Tekashi 6ix9ine to the iconic 50 Cent just to name a few.
His voice became the pulse of new media in Hip Hop while juggling being the Creative Director of Thisis50.com which was a top 7 trafficked Music website in the world. 
He also stepped into the Youtube universe being the lead personality on the platform doing over 100+ Interviews and hosting content from the likes of documentaries, red carpets press to vlogs of him traveling all through Europe during his festival runs with 6ix9ine with crowds of 30,000 people plus as the typical night. 
He assured way over 30 million views with over 160 million minutes watched that is the stat that peeks everyone’s attention.

LAURAEGOCHEAGA
Entrepreneur

Laura Egocheaga is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Viral Growth Media, a Award Winning Growth Hacking digital agency servicing eCommerce & Brick and Mortar clients across the United States. Laura started learning her craft while still in high school and after making her first $20k in 6 months she knew there was something bigger to this thing called “The Internet”… Now she is the owner & operator of a digital marketing agency that provides their clients with “customers on demand” systems. Laura is also one of the most sought-after Facebook Ads Expert alive today. She is a crypto/blockchain enthusiast, author, and an early investor in crypto such as BTC, ETH, XRP, and XLM.

NAEEMMAHMOOD
Performance Coach / Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Naeem is a Performance Coach and Lifestyle Entrepreneur. For four years he worked with Tony Robbins as his top national speaker and trainer where he traveled and spoke with over 350 companies giving presentations and running training programs throughout North America. He advises and consults with Fortune 500 companies, executives and entrepreneurs in the areas of leadership, organizational behavior, psychology of achievement and sales mastery. He conducts trainings for distinguished audiences all over the world. Naeem’s greatest passion is to inspire and help human beings achieve their fullest potential and dreams

NATHANORTEGA
Founder, Influencer Podcasts

Nathan Ortega is a unique individual standing at 19 years old, that likes to seek out powerful influential leaders, to spread the power of influence to many that seek it. He does PR by helping Influential individuals such as Calvin Wayman, Brett Campbell, Asa leveaux , Louie La Vella, get on podcasts to increase their exposure, authority, and branding. Nathan’s idles are Chris Gardner, Robert Kiyosaki, and Les Brown, drawn by similarities that he has experienced in life, such as being homeless sleeping in the streets or a car at age 18.

CHRISTIANNA HURT
Founder of Wealthy College Kid

My name is Christianna Hurt, owner of Wealthy College Kid a Digital Educational Brand. I am 24 years old and have grossed over two million dollars since starting almost two years ago. I grew up in Lake Mary Florida, as well as graduated from Seminole High School.I started my company and built an online brand helping thousands of people of all backgrounds and ages successfully learn how to make a stable income online. Due to the fact so many people struggle going to school, and make enough money to survive or even support their families I have been able to duplicate my success to thousands already and change so many lives although I want to take my brand to the next level and change million of lives.

VOVA TESS
E-Commerce Entrepreneur

Vova Tess is a young 17-year old multi 6 figure e-commerce entrepreneur, social media influencer, and speaker. He has created multiple online businesses that grossed over 6 and even 7 figures in sales. He has been featured on world-class shows such as Fox News, Good Morning La Land, Buzzfeed, and The New York Journal all under the age of seventeen.

JOSUE ARTEAGA
VP of Operations, Disrupt Media

JJosue Arteaga is the VP of Operations at Disrupt Media, a social media and branding agency that helping entrepreneurs build world class brands online. He has worked with some of today’s top influencers to help them gain press and media exposure and help them take their brand to the next level. He is a growth hacking guru, digital marketing expert, and rock star entrepreneur.
Josue has helped celebrities, influencers, and mega brands growth hack their personal or company brand by getting them featured on the worlds biggest publications like Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur Magazine & many more.

BRIANBREACH
Entrepreneur

Brian Breach is a creator, entertainer, entrepreneur, recent Ted Talk speaker and a social media influencer. His journey started off in the world of music where he spent a decade performing and opening for some of the biggest names in hip hop as well as having his song air nationally as the intro to a TV show for 3 years. In the process of making music he was able to co found GTPS independent label & a highly successful hip hop blog getthatpaperson.com.

As time passed he also created Sikey Clothing and co founded GTPS printing. Eventually stepping away from music he has made a name for himself in the world of viral videos/sketch comedy with one of his first social experiments going internationally viral, having the story being featured on FOX, MSNBC, CNN, Inside Edition, Yahoo and many other Media outlets. Brian is currently verified on Instagram with over 84,000 followers and a growing fan base. He plans to continue making his mark while also empowering others through motivational and positive content.

PATRICK TUCKER
Founder, EvolveCon

Patrick Tucker is an entrepreneur, published author of his book “The Evolved Advisor”, speaker, 7-figure wealth manager, coach for financial advisors, lifelong learner, father to six sons and husband to one with an unshakable passion to educate an energetic digital community on entrepreneurship within the finance realm.
Patrick educates those in the financial services industry or seeking to enter the industry, on how to operate as entrepreneurial financial advisors. He’s helped many advisors leave their broker-dealers and set up their businesses to run seamlessly and with much less friction with his book, courses and private coaching he offers.

SIMON LERNER
Founder, Netcon

Simon Lerner is a 19-year-old stock trader, business owner, and entrepreneur who went from being a college dropout to a 6-figure earner in a matter of months.He created a stock trading group, which focuses on helping individuals learn the ins and outs of the markets. The group currently has over 400 members with whom Simon works with on a daily basis, helping them become profitable and self-sufficient traders. Simon is also the founder of NetCon, a premium educational and motivational event for entrepreneurs. The purpose of the event is to connect entrepreneurs world-wide while empowering them to learn, network, and exchange ideas. The first NetCon conference took place at Leonard’s Palazzo in Long Island on April 14th, with over 150 entrepreneurs attending the event from all over the world, followed by The Hamptons Mastermind in June.Whether it’s speaking at events or coaching clients one on one – Simon’s mission is to empower others about the power of investing. He preaches that You should Invest In your education before you invest in the markets. Simon credits his parents for inspiring him and always supporting his dreams.

ANTHONY SANTIAGO
Entrepreneur

Anthony Santiago is an Instagram marketing expert and influencer. He first gained notoriety when he received the opportunity to help Gary Vaynerchuk grow his personal Instagram account and Instagram media network. After Vayner Media Anthony began his entrepreneurship journey. He is now focusing on building businesses behind his audience. His Instagram network totals over 6 Million followers in niches such as art, fitness, and food.

STEPHEN CAMPOLO
Fitness Influencer

Stephen is a former fat kid turned fat loss and muscle building expert. He struggled with his weight for most of his childhood and early adult life. It wasn’t until high school that Stephen got tired of feeling sick and tired with how he looked. So he decided to do something about it. Taking the first step of action towards bettering his health and image would start a sequence of events over the next few years that would ultimately change the direction of his life.
Stephen has helped thousands of people all over the world reach their fitness goals and his client transformations are some of the most impressive around. 

MICHAELGONZALEZ
Founder & CEO of FitTea & HappyTea

Michael Gonzalez, Founder & CEO of FitTea & HappyTea. Michael is best known for starting one of the Largest Online Tea brands that turned retail giants like Walmart into a continuous client of his. FitTea had it’s launch over 6 years ago and still remains as one of the most sought after natural detox teas on the market.
Michael attributes a lot of his success to his early adoption of “influencer marketing” “Back in 2013, no one was using large accounts to sell products, so I thought I would be the first and would get the attention of everyone” – Michael Gonzalez. In doing so, Michael not only pioneered the advertising space in which we call “influencer marketing” but also was the first to get a household name like the Kardashians to endorse and promote FitTea. 
Scaling a $75M+ dollar empire, Michael has not only mastered the art of selling & marketing but also have FitTea become a globally known brand and the #1 Detox Tea in America. With no preservatives and laxatives, FitTea truly encompasses a superior brand. Sold to over 2 Million Household, FitTea is a product the community trusts and continuously buys.  
Today, you can catch Michael managing and scaling his next business, HappyTea. The first CBD infused drink that has audiences all over the world in a hype as it continues to build and develop as a leading CBD product to market. Be on the lookout for HappyTea as there are exciting announcements coming soon!

CHRIS DELGADO
Entrepreneur

With a decade of experience in Corporate America and working with some of the largest names in business like: In-N-Out Burger, Cardone Enterprises, GOAT Marketing, FitTea & Luxury World Traveler, Chris brings a different side of the industry that is rare today.
From building high-powered teams to scaling global operations, Chris knows how to apply marketing & sales strategies to not only build your brand but also drive revenue.

JOE STAIBER
Founder, Staiberr Consulting

Joe Staiberr went from being a college dropout to 6-Figure Business Owner In 8 Months. He started & scaled multiple E-commerce businesses to over 6 figures, learned all the Backend, Personal Branding & Marketing Strategies that make a business successful.
Joe went on to start StaiberrConsulting LLC, a consulting agency that now helps business revamp their brand & marketing strategies to increase sales & social credibility. 
This ambitious entrepreneur has previously been featured in Entrepreneur, Medium, Buzzfeed & Future Sharks & has a combined sales revenue of over a million
Joe understands the Importance of an online presence, and is now on a mission of helping 10,000 entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses while leveraging social media.

DAVID CHEN
Venture Capitalist

David has over 10 years of experience with a big 4 firm. He created and developed the Chinese Services Group for Deloitte Mexico. In 2010, David and his team were recognized by the Global Deloitte firm and they won the prestigious “Standards of Excellence Award” for a $1 billion USD merger. At the age of 34, David was one of the youngest partners at Deloitte, and worked on over 500 transactions with Fortune 500 companies. Some of the notable real estate projects include the Diamante Las Cabos resort, REIT of Arizona, the Waldorf Astoria properties. Additionally, David consulted for companies including Migshen Golf and Resort, and Foxconn.




Puerto Rico’s Parallel18 teams up with Google Developers Launchpad

Parallel18 entrepreneurs (Courtesy photo; by José R. Madera)

Affiliation to reap benefits of knowledge, network sharing to support island’s startup ecosystem

SAN JUAN – Startup accelerator Parallel18 broadened its resources network by joining Google Developers Launchpad‘s group of regional partners. The collaboration grants access to Google’s global network resulting in gained insight and learning of best practices of startup accelerators around the world.

Google Developers Launchpad is a branch of Google that operates a global acceleration program to help startups grow. As part of its strategy to support innovation ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley, the organization teams up with top independent accelerators across Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Parallel18 is a startup accelerator created by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust to attract and create high-impact startup companies that can scale abroad. The trust is a nonprofit created in 2004 to promote investment and the financing of research and development as a catalyst for job creation and the retention of highly qualified talent. Since its founding in 2015, Parallel18 has worked with more than 200 startups from Puerto Rico, the states, Latin America, Europe and Asia and has gained international attention for the local tech and innovation network it supports.

The “parallel18 Powered by Google Developers Launchpad” initiative will connect the Puerto Rican organization to some of the world’s top accelerators, allowing it to share information and leverage resources. Parallel18 will also be afforded access to Google’s global network, Silicon Valley-based startup programs and “20 years’ worth of Google research and best practice insights on building businesses, products, and teams at a massive scale,” the startup accelerator explained.   

Parallel18 said the new resources will help its startup portfolio, which already includes some of the fastest-growing companies in the region, scale its businesses exponentially. 

“This alliance with Google Developers Launchpad instantly widened our network of speakers and expert mentors, which are the key to offer a business development curriculum that is of the highest quality and relevant to the entrepreneurs we serve,” said Eduardo Padial, operations manager at parallel18, in charge of the acceleration curriculums.

“Our alumni consistently highlight the educational component and the mentorship with local and international experts as Parallel18’s greatest value. By teaming up with Google Developers Launchpad we reaffirm our commitment to support young innovative companies in their journey to scale globally,” Parallel18’s executive director, Sebastian Vidal, said in the related press release.

“During the past few years, we’ve been working to create new bridges between Latin America and the United States. Puerto Rico is one of the most promising entry points to the Hispanic market in America, and thanks to Parallel18, all startups, both in the Island and everywhere else in the world, can benefit from our Launchpad program and mentor network,” added Kevin O’Toole, global head of Strategy, Operations and Partnerships for Google Launchpad.

Kevin O’Toole, global head of Strategy, Operations and Partnerships for Google Launchpad (Courtesy)

As part of the collaboration, experts from Google’s network will join the Startups of Puerto Rico Speaker Series to offer conferences and workshops open to the community.

“In the coming years, markets outside of Silicon Valley will increasingly impact the global startup and technology ecosystem. And while it’s easier than ever to start a company, access to success methodologies, expert mentors, and ecosystem best practices for building companies remain unevenly distributed,” O’Toole pointed out of one of the challenges the Google program aims to address.




Aurora Angel Network invests in Puerto Rican fashion startup Guilty

Suhaily Sepúlveda presenting at Parallel 18’s Demo Day. (Courtesy)

Subscription-based style outlet garners financial, expert support

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico-based Aurora Angel Network, which connects startups with investors interested in providing seed capital and advisory services, has invested in local fashion tech startup Guilty.

Founded in November 2017, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane María, Guilty’s team has distinguished itself in entrepreneurial programs such as pre18, Parallel 18, and Grupo Guayacán’s EnterPRize business competition.

With its proprietary platform, Guilty offers its customers the ability to build their own custom closet with access to hundreds of outfits for $49 a month. Besides being able to refresh its contents on the fly, customers no longer need to buy or even wash clothes again, leading to great savings.

Armando Sánchez, Guilty’s co-founder (Courtesy)

“We’ve always been believers in Puerto Rico and in creating our own opportunities. With the rise of the sharing economy, my co-founder, Armando Sánchez, and I saw an opportunity to apply this concept to the fashion industry and target the underserved Latino market. Essentially, we’re giving women access to a much larger and dynamic closet, adapted to the vibrant style of Latinas, in the same way that Uber and Airbnb have created shared transportation and accommodations. Our team is very excited for this next phase of the company and we look forward to making Guilty the top fashion tech company in Latin America,” said Suhaily Sepúlveda, who is an attorney and Guilty’s co-founder.

Aurora views this investment in Guilty as an opportunity to support the growth of a local innovative startup not only with its capital, but also with its professional experience and networks as Guilty expands to the rest of the island and abroad.

Sepúlveda at pre18’s Demo Day (Courtesy)

“Guilty is an attractive investment for our members because it is building on the emerging concept of a sharing economy, an exciting and growing space, and because it has a demonstrated track record of growth and excellent customer loyalty,” Liana O’Drobinak, Aurora’s managing director, pointed out.

(Courtesy)

Guilty will use the funds to expand its service to the rest of the island, launch new subscription alternatives, and grow its catalog with more apparel choices.

Aurora is accepting applications for its quarterly Screening Committee until July 3. For more information, contact auroraangelnetwork@gmail.com or apply here.




VC firm Revolution heads to Puerto Rico for ‘Rise of the Rest’ tour

(Screengrab of www.revolution.com)

Event to feature networking, pitch competition and discussion with Chef José Andrés

SAN JUAN – Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution’s “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to highlight emerging startup ecosystems ends May 3 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Juan with a networking activity, a “Fireside Chat” and a pitch competition, all from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The firm said that following Hurricane Maria, the island “is leveraging its entrepreneurial communities to solve real issues that impact the lives of its residents,” thus it is exploring “innovation and entrepreneurship” by ending the tour day with a pitch competition and celebration.

Attendees can participate of a “fireside chat,” where AOL co-founder and Revolution CEO and Chairman Steve Case, as well as President and Founder of ThinkFoodGroup and Chairman of World Central Kitchen Chef José Andrés will discuss their “shared vision and mission to support innovation.”

During the pitch competition, eight local startups compete for a $100,000 investment from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, an early stage venture fund backed by three dozen entrepreneurs, investors and executives such as Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Henry Kravis, Howard Schultz, Meg Whitman, Jim Breyer, John Doerr and others. Puerto Rico pitch finalists will be revealed the week of April 1.

Founded in 2005, Revolution says its mission is to “help build disruptive, innovative companies that offer consumers more choice, convenience, and control in their lives.” Its funds exceed $1.3 billion and “are positioned to back startups at nearly every stage of their lifecycle,” according to the firm.

Since 2014, Revolution’s Case and his team have traveled 10,000 miles touring entrepreneurial communities by bus in 38 cities. In 2017, Case and JD Vance, managing partner of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, announced the $150 million fund, backed by the aforementioned group of people.

During each stop on the Rest tour, the team visits entrepreneurs, and business and government leaders. The tour hosts daily discussions and a startup pitch competition in which $500,000 will be invested from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, with $100,000 invested in a local startup at each stop.

Partners on the tour include Silicon Valley Bank, which supports and helps judge the pitch competitions, and Google for Startups, which provides coaching for the pitch competition finalists.

The Revolution team already went to Florida to explore such sectors as hospitality, space technology and real estate. While in Puerto Rico, the “tour will aim to shine a spotlight on how ecosystem builders and local leaders are working with cities in Florida to support each other,” according to a release.

Chef José Andrés joined the Revolution team to visit companies and entrepreneurial support organizations that are looking to help the island move toward long-term recovery and growth.

“We are 100% invested in Puerto Rico, not just in moments of extreme need, like directly after Hurricane Maria, but for the long term as they rebuild the island and its economy,” José Andrés was quoted as saying. “To me, building a future where every Puerto Rican can access the benefits of technology and innovation is essential to this effort.”

Revolution is focusing on the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to “support individuals, companies and nonprofits tackling complex Third Wave challenges, made even more challenging following” Hurricane Maria, “like sustainable agriculture, energy production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, infrastructure and transportation,” Revolution said, adding that its tour intends to highlight “these growing ventures and give them a platform to further accelerate their efforts.”

Case said he has “long admired José’s dedication to the people of Puerto Rico” and is “excited to go with him to see how the island is working towards building and supporting an innovation ecosystem. Puerto Rico has a unique and powerful opportunity to launch and scale startups that tackle various real world challenges following Hurricane Maria.”

Vance, the fund’s managing partner, added: “We look forward to adding five more innovative companies from Florida and Puerto Rico to the portfolio.”

Rise of the Rest 8.0 will be traveling to Orlando on April 29, where Revolution says there is “an emerging tech ecosystem that supports various other industries including the space and defense sectors, education, and autonomous vehicles. The Space Coast, a region on the east coast of Florida that is “home to several exciting companies in aerospace, aviation, defense, and drone technologies,” will be visited the next day.

While on May 1, the will stop at Tampa Bay, which “has also become a burgeoning tech ecosystem driven by the presence of large military and defense installations that provide talent,” and where Jeff Vinik, an investor in Revolution’s seed fund, “is helping to launch a local innovation hub that will be home to 50+ startups.”

The day before leaving for Puerto Rico, the team will visit Miami, which it called  “a hotbed of entrepreneurship” and “a gateway for U.S. companies trying to break into Latin America.”

To register,

visit: www.revolution.com.

 




Puerto Rico Trade & Export Co. launches support program for women

Initiative for entrepreneurs maps out empowerment strategy

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared in the March 14 – 20, 2019, issue of Caribbean Business.

The Puerto Rico government awarded six food trucks to women from various parts of the island, with which they will be able to run, expand and even export their services in the future.

At a news conference held last week at the Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) in San Juan’s Hato Rey district, Trade & Export Co. (CCE by its Spanish initials) Director Ricardo Llerandi provided six women the keys to their new businesses.

These entrepreneurs will set up shop in Gurabo, Vega Baja, Mayagüez, Isabela and Bayamón.

From typical Puerto Rican sweets and Colombian pastries and desserts, to tripleta sandwiches and mugs, glasses and shirts, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares said these women now have the necessary tools and mechanisms to pursue their dreams and sell what they make with their own hands.

The women entrepreneurs will continue receiving government help through the “Business Briefcase for Women” digital platform, in which they will be able to expand their services. The platform, www.maletinempresarial.pr.gov, was officially launched last week. The government hopes this new tool will help aspiring businessowners and spur commerce.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, behind lectern, and First lady Beatriz Rosselló, to his right, announce the launch of the program.

The governor was accompanied by First Lady Beatriz Rosselló during the presentation of the new program.

“We aspire to create a scenario where opportunities are granted, and citizens know that these opportunities are accessible to everyone…. And it is up to them to take on these opportunities,” Rosselló Nevares said. “It’s an opportunity for all citizens to maximize their potential.”

“Today, we are giving them a push with this initiative,” the governor added. The Business Briefcase for Women Act was signed into law one year ago and orders DDEC to provide women an integrated process with all necessary tools during the creation of their business. It also offers them guidance, technical support and any other assistance they need through this process.

“The CCE will continue to provide training to new companies through the Puerto Rico Emprende Conmigo program, so they can maximize their business opportunities,” Llerandi said.

“Similarly, the participants in the Business Briefcase for Women program can undertake their business from [DDEC’s] New Entrepreneurship Center, which offers a range of services, including open job spaces [co-working], private offices and a conference room with high-speed internet access, printing services and complete equipment to make presentations,” Llerandi said.

Llerandi indicated that entrepreneurship centers will soon open in Ponce and Mayagüez.

The governor explained that the Business Briefcase for Women Act gives DDEC Secretary Manuel Laboy the opportunity to establish a website where self-management can be boosted, educational tools can be accessed, and incentives can be awarded.

Furthermore, the law includes the capacity to export services. It gives DDEC the ability to offer webinars and guidance from one location, where women can access services and start creating their small or midsize business.

“The idea behind this is that when we see the distribution of the new jobs being created at a global level, it’s not the big companies, it’s not the government, it’s the small and midsize businesses that are creating the new jobs,” Rosselló Nevares said. “We must adjust to this reality and bet on self-management.”

He acknowledges that many women are the heads of the household, with many also single mothers, and a lot of their time is committed to other tasks, and sometimes following traditional structures is harder for them. The Business Briefcase for Women program adjusts to these women’s needs, so they have the time to take the necessary workshops and prepare their business plans.

“So, we can get to that group of Puerto Rican women, who have the capacity but maybe didn’t have the structure or opportunity to make their business possible, and here at the Trade & Export Co.’s New Entrepreneurship Center, they will have the tools to develop them,” the governor said.

The governor said DDEC and the CCE joined efforts to offer training to young people, who were seeking an opportunity to prepare themselves, the same way they were able to establish the Business Briefcase for Women program, through a convocation that was made so those interested were able to submit business plans and develop them.

The women who received their food truck will serve various kinds of products. The food trucks were delivered to six entrepreneurs, who are participating in the Puerto Rico Emprende Conmigo program.

This was the second “mobile business” the government has made, which now totals 26 food trucks granted to develop micro-entrepreneurs through training and the granting of the vehicle from which they will sell food and other products and services.

Dayana Miranda García, founder of Loading Creation, a family business created in 2017 to sell crafts and design shirts, mugs, uniforms and drinking glasses. She has been selling her creations through her businesses’ Facebook and Instagram accounts. In an interview with Caribbean Business, Miranda García said she will be selling her items from the cart the government granted her, within different towns across the island, participating in artisanal fairs and other events on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. She will continue her online business during weekdays.

She started her business because she wanted to be independent and to dedicate more time to her children. She also has various health conditions, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, systematic lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. All these conditions attack her body in one way or another, and some days she simply cannot work if she’s sick. Her husband, Daniel Alamo, a cancer survivor, joined her effort with the goal of reinventing themselves, and started their own business. Their commerce has now expanded with the receipt of the cart from the government, from which they now will also be selling their products.

“We hope to be able expand the business in the future, and we are already exporting to the mainland U.S. because friends have placed orders from Connecticut and Florida,” Miranda García said.

She currently is working on her cart’s “final touches,” such as designing and placing signs, and by April will take the cart to different areas of the island to sell her items.

Meanwhile, Cyndia Ríos Guzmán will sell typical Puerto Rican sweets and piraguas, a frozen delicacy made from shaved ice and covered with fruit-flavored syrup, in Bayamón.

She told Caribbean Business the process to obtain her food truck began in October 2018, when she participated in an orientation seminar. She received her cart last week. Ríos Guzmán said she has to make some “minimal modifications to the cart” to adapt it so the ice used for the piraguas can remain in a fixed space.

“These are minor changes, but we have to work on them. We hope that by March 23, we can have the truck set up on Santa Juanita Avenue in Bayamón,” Ríos Guzmán said.

Her food truck will be open for business Friday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

She added that the process to obtain her truck was not difficult. She currently has one worker who helps her with her business.

“Between the permits that had to be obtained and other requirements that I needed to comply with, I understand that the process and waiting time [to receive the food truck] was adequate,” Ríos Guzmán said.

Upgrade served

She is expanding operations because the food truck the government provided her is an “upgrade” from her previous vehicle, and she can always run her business “even when it rains.”

Ríos Guzmán’s goal is to be able to sell her products in various towns and then expand operations in Fayetteville, N.C., “where there is growth in this kind of mobile business.”

“Exporting to the U.S. is viable. We already completed the studies and this concept can work in the States,” Ríos Guzmán said.

Jackeline Ávila Taveras, meanwhile, founded La Empanadería. In her newly delivered food truck, she will sell gourmet turnovers, or empanadillas, based on typical Puerto Rican dishes. The process to obtain her food truck took about five months.

“I took the workshop and the business plan seminar,” Ávila Taveras noted. “I then submitted the business plan for evaluation in November. In January, I was told the business proposal had been selected and I started the process of turning in the required documents. In March, I received the food truck.”

Ávila Taveras said she was able to take the food truck home last week and is adding finishing touches, installing the necessary equipment and will start operations this week.

“The truck will be located on PR2, near Santa Rosa shopping mall in Bayamón,” Ávila Taveras said. “We will also be available to participate in activities and at private events.”

Her food truck will be open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The process flowed pretty well,” she said. “Shaping a business idea on paper, in a coherent and convincing way that makes it viable, is not the easiest of tasks. However, in my experience, I can say the Trade & Export Co. awarded us with valuable tools, and they were available to clear up any doubts throughout the entire process.”

She further noted that the Labor Department was efficient while offering guidance and support to the selected participants, to expedite the delivery of the food trucks.

“It should be noted that they also presented us with initiatives and efforts aimed at training [us] and developing a business, especially in the development process, and by offering support to women entrepreneurs,” Ávila Taveras said.

The foodie on wheels said she hopes to expand her “start-up” and open more food trucks under the same concept. She also envisions exporting her services. The entrepreneur is also in the process of recruiting two workers, and hence creating jobs.

“We aspire to contribute to Puerto Rico’s economy,” she said, “not only by creating jobs, but also by betting on Puerto Ricans who have the capacity and creativity to reinvent themselves and be innovative in terms of increasing the exportation of their products and service, and achieving a greater flow of money toward the local economy.”

From the western coastal town of Mayagüez, Astrid Correa Cancel will be in charge of selling typical Puerto Rican foods from her truck, La Cobija. She told Caribbean Business it took about three months to obtain her truck from the government.

She still needs to acquire some of the equipment to cook her typical Puerto Rican dishes and will soon open shop in Mayagüez.

She explained that receiving all necessary documents and permits was not an easy task because it involved numerous trips to various government offices.

“La Cobija will be open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” she said. Although she currently does not have plans to expand operations, she noted that is the goal, to be able to have several operations running. She has already hired one worker to help her with her day-to-day food truck operations.

In addition, Natashly Echevarría Pérez will set up her tripleta sandwich business, Las Gorditas, in Isabela.

Meanwhile, Marilú Ortiz Maldonado will make and sell Colombian pastries and desserts from her food truck in Vega Baja. Her business will operate Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on PR155, and will soon operate on Sundays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., from PR137, which runs between Vega Baja and Morovis, taking advantage of local business in the area.

Her Colombian pastries will be filled with pork, chicken, cheese and fish, among other ingredients.

“I did the registration process to take the workshop offered by the CCE online, and sent the business proposal via email to the corresponding offices at the CCE and Labor Department,” Ortiz Maldonado said. “I already had my business operating, but I only had a tarp and a table, so for me this food truck represent an opportunity to grow.” It took her about four months to get her truck.

Her goal is to open an empanadas factory and market these products to local stores and supermarkets. Although currently a family-run business (her daughter helps), the plan is to hire someone to help cook to dedicate more time to promotion and marketing.

Rosselló Nevares said the only requirement to participate in the program is to “want to learn and for participants to use available resources.”

During last week’s activity, Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra Gutiérrez said program participants signed a use contract for $1 for the next two years and can renew it after that.

Meanwhile, DDEC Secretary Manuel Laboy said the government invested $200,000 in the program’s website, from a special Act 20 fund that incentivizes the export of services, “because that should be the long-term goal…to have the capacity to export and bring new money to the local economy.

“At our agency, we designed this website while considering the leading roles women play in our society, and recognizing that due to the multiple functions they assume, they often do not have enough time to go to offices to receive guidance, or that orientation is costly and inaccessible,” Laboy said. “So, we created this holistic digital platform that can be accessed from a computer or mobile phone at any time.”

Laboy further noted that “once they have established their businesses, women entrepreneurs can benefit from other programs and incentives available from DDEC to continue innovating and expanding in local or international markets through exportation.”

Saavedra Gutiérrez, meanwhile, said he decided to bet on the creativity and “fighting spirit” of these entrepreneurs, who “now are contributing to the workforce and taking an important step toward self-employment.

“I am pleased we can place in these women’s hands space where they can develop their ideas,” Saavedra Gutiérrez said. “Some will improve the status of their existing business and others will undertake a new business with the tools and training we have given them to keep their businesses operating and creating jobs.”




Puerto Rico CPA Society to hold entrepreneurship forum

To discuss financing sources, ways to protect assets

CPA Society President Cecilia C. Colón Ouslan (CB file)

SAN JUAN – As part of its efforts for the recovery and economic well-being of the island, the Puerto Rico CPA Society will hold a conference, titled “Entrepreneurship Forum: a Look at Opportunities,” on March 20 at its headquarters in San Juan.

“During the forum, tools and valuable information will be offered to empower any person interested in starting their business or strengthen the company they are already running. In addition, we will present the crucial role of the CPA in these processes,” CPA Society President Cecilia C. Colón Ouslán said in the announcing release.

The forum will feature discussions about the basic concepts of entrepreneurship and its related ecosystem on the island. Participants will also be presented with a “look at emerging opportunities in the current market, including sources of financing and ways to protect the entrepreneur’s assets.”

Success stories and examples of innovation will be presented.

The forum runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To make a reservation or for more information, visit www.colegiocpa.com.




CoinAgenda Caribbean returns to Puerto Rico for its 3rd year

SAN JUAN – CoinAgenda, the global conference series for connecting blockchain and cryptocurrency investors with startups, was holding its third annual CoinAgenda Caribbean event this weekend at the InterContinental San Juan.

Besides the conference’s keynotes, panels, presentations, Startup Contest and networking events, industry leaders were focusing on blockchain economic development in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean jurisdictions, the rise of security tokens, enterprise applications, changes in the digital currency funding vehicles and digital currency exchanges.

“The Caribbean region has been a world leader in funding blockchain entities due to its innovative financial structures, and Puerto Rico has attracted more than 300,” said Michael Terpin, CEO and founder of CoinAgenda. “We’re excited to bring CoinAgenda Caribbean to Puerto Rico for its third year, and look forward to gathering some of the industry’s best and brightest minds to explore what’s next for cryptocurrency investing in 2019 and beyond.”

The conference will feature more than 40 speakers and 20 company presentations, including renowned author and economist Harry Dent; Alphabit Fund managing partner Liam Robertson; Tezos security adviser Ryan Lackey; and a panel of Puerto Rico-based blockchain entrepreneurs, including James Greaves (Glyph) and MichaelAngelo Anglero (Keyband).

CoinAgenda Caribbean also includes a startup competition “highlighting top entrepreneurs developing real-world use cases for blockchain technology,” a release explained, adding that “Founders interested in pitching their projects (including security token offerings) are invited to apply here.”

The contest is judged by “prominent token investors, and winners will be awarded a complimentary exhibit at a future CoinAgenda event as well as tickets to partner conferences. Past CoinAgenda startup competition winners have gone on to raise millions in funding, including Aeternity, Bancor, Cashbet, Omega One, SALT Lending, and Qtum,” according to the release.

Watch conference videos here CoinAgenda Youtube.

To learn more, visit caribbean.coinagenda.com or https://coinagenda.com/.

 




VC firm Revolution heads to Florida, Puerto Rico for ‘Rise of the Rest’ tour

SAN JUAN – Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Revolution announced Friday that its next “Rise of the Rest” bus tour to highlight emerging startup ecosystems will head to Florida, with the tour ending in Puerto Rico, “to explore innovation and entrepreneurship” with Chef José Andrés.

Founded in 2005, Revolution says its mission is to “help build disruptive, innovative companies that offer consumers more choice, convenience, and control in their lives.” Its funds exceed $1.3 billion and “are positioned to back startups at nearly every stage of their lifecycle,” according to the firm.

Since 2014, Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution, and his team have travelled mtraveled10,000 miles touring entrepreneurial communities by bus in 38 cities. In 2017, Case and JD Vance, managing partner of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, announced the $150 million fund, backed by a group of entrepreneurs, executives and investors, including Ray Dalio, Meg Whitman, Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt and Sarah Blakely, who believe the “next great startup investments are located outside of coastal cities,” a release reads.

During each stop on Revolution’s Rise of the Rest tour, the team will meet with and visit entrepreneurs, and business and government leaders. The tour will also host daily discussions and a startup pitch competition in which $500,000 will be invested from the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, with $100,000 invested in a local startup at each stop.

Partners on the tour include Silicon Valley Bank, which will “support and help judge the pitch competitions,” and Google for Startups, which “will provide professional pitch coaching services for all of the pitch competition finalists as well as amplify the stories of the entrepreneurs we meet on tour.”

The Revolution team is spending four days in Florida to explore such sectors such as hospitality, space technology and real estate. Revolution said it is eager to further explore the work underway to connect startup support efforts between cities in the state.

While in Puerto Rico, the “tour will aim to shine a spotlight on how ecosystem builders and local leaders are working with cities in Florida to support each other,” according to the release.

Chef José Andrés, who is also ThinkFoodGroup’s founder and chairman of World Central Kitchen, will join the Revolution team to visit companies and entrepreneurial support organizations that are looking to help the island move toward long-term recovery and growth.

Revolution is focusing on the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to “support individuals, companies and nonprofits tackling complex Third Wave challenges, made even more challenging following” Hurricane Maria, “like sustainable agriculture, energy production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, infrastructure and transportation.” The tour intends to highlight “these growing ventures and give them a platform to further accelerate their efforts,” the firm explained.

“Startups are responsible for nearly all net new job creation and with Florida’s size and diversity, the state can help lead the way. I’ve long admired José’s dedication to the people of Puerto Rico and I am excited to go with him to see how the island is working towards building and supporting an innovation ecosystem. Puerto Rico has a unique and powerful opportunity to launch and scale startups that tackle various real world challenges following Hurricane Maria,” Case said in the release.

“In Florida, we look forward to learning more about how cities are innovating traditional industries and how local startup champions are working across the state to welcome entrepreneurs. And in Puerto Rico, we will witness how startups are playing a critical role in revitalizing the island’s economy,” said Vance, adding, “We look forward to adding five more innovative companies from Florida and Puerto Rico to the portfolio,” he added.

“We are 100% invested in Puerto Rico, not just in moments of extreme need, like directly after Hurricane Maria, but for the long term as they rebuild the island and its economy,” José Andrés added. “To me, building a future where every Puerto Rican can access the benefits of technology and innovation is essential to this effort.”

Rise of the Rest 8.0 Cities and Regions, as per the announcing release:

  • April 29: Orlando is known for its entertainment and hospitality giants like Disney, Universal, and Sea World, but the city has an emerging tech ecosystem that supports various other industries including the space and defense sectors, education, and autonomous vehicles.
  • April 30: The Space Coast is a region on the east coast of Florida that is home to several exciting companies in aerospace, aviation, defense, and drone technologies. With the privatization of and renewed vigor around the space race it has made this region one of the most exciting to watch in the country. Our pitch competition in the Space Coast will be open to companies from anywhere in the United States whose core focus relates to space, drone, or aviation technologies or adjacent focus areas that support them or take advantage of associated data.
  • May 1: Tampa Bay, an economy heavily focused on real estate, has also become a burgeoning tech ecosystem driven by the presence of large military and defense installations that provide talent for the startup ecosystem. Additionally, Jeff Vinik, an investor in Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, is helping to launch a local innovation hub that will be home to 50+ startups.
  • May 2: Miami is a hotbed of entrepreneurship and in 2017 The Kauffman Foundation ranked it the national leader in startup activity. The diverse city also serves as a gateway for U.S. companies trying to break into Latin America or for LATAM companies looking to establish U.S. roots.
  • May 3: The island of Puerto Rico is uniquely positioned in both its history and geography to serve as a launching pad for U.S. companies into Latin America. Following Hurricane Maria, the island is leveraging its entrepreneurial communities to solve real issues that impact the lives of its residents.

For more information, visit: www.revolution.com/rotr  or follow @RiseOfRest on Twitter.




Co-op seeks 100 entrepreneurs to form part of startup program

SAN JUAN – Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia is looking for 100 entrepreneurs willing to participate in its first business incubation program, which includes training and support for a year to help them turn their business ideas into reality.

The information was provided by the co-op’s CEO, Eddie Alicea Sáez, in a statement issued Wednesday.

The credit union launched “Business Incubator Now” to support residents of Guaynabo and nearby municipalities by offering them education and planning through the “Incubadora de MicroEmpresas Comunitarias Solidarias (iMECs).” The business startup project will begin at the end of August.

“We created Business Incubator Now because we are convinced we have to diversify the ways in which we serve our community. We believe it is now that the country needs to develop micro, small or medium-sized companies because their creation and strengthening will be the engine that will move Puerto Rico toward a stable economy, a more just and supportive economy,” Alicea Saez said.

The incubator is the result of an alliance with the Municipality of Guaynabo and the Cooperative Development Commission to develop entrepreneurship on the island.

The project will include a pre-incubation process to help participants determine the viability of their ideas. Then, community economic development experts Nelson Reyes and Lucy Carrasquillo, of Consultores Comunitarios, will provide participants with more than 70 hours of training, discussing a feasibility analysis, business plans, marketing, legal aspects, permitting, budgets, financing and customer service.