Puerto Rico is rapidly emerging as a key tech hub, propelling significant economic growth and acting as a bridge between Latin America and the US. Fueled by a dynamic startup scene and a thriving community of entrepreneurs, public and private sector leaders on the island are collaboratively strategizing to effectively make the ecosystem grow more.
When it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, parallel18 is the go-to name. Established in 2015 by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust (PRSTRT), is a performance-driven international startup program with a social mission. This organization provides entrepreneurs worldwide access to high-quality business training, grants, mentors, business contacts, and investors to scale globally while positioning Puerto Rico as a unique hub for innovative businesses and technology.
Recently, the eleventh generation of parallel18 witnessed the successful culmination of endeavors by both local and international startups. A two-day celebration unfolded, featuring the highly anticipated DemoDay and the parallel18 Ventures Summit, where 18 alumni from the international acceleration program showcased their investment rounds to the program’s investor network.
Entrepreneurs in the castle
On Thursday, November 9th, 2023, against the majestic backdrop of San Felipe Castle at El Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 19 companies from diverse regions such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, the United States, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic presented their solutions, achievements, and future plans at the DemoDay. The program strategically timed its celebration with Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The cohort of Generation 11 represented a spectrum of industries, including Insurtech, Proptech, Enterprise SaaS, Productivity SaaS, Education, Consumer Goods, eCommerce, Healthtech, and FinTech. These startups, comprising 100% technology-based companies, each received a $60,000 economic contribution, split into a $40,000 equity-free grant and a $20,000 investment through a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE).
Dr. Héctor Jirau, Executive Director at parallel18, expressed pride in advancing technology development and innovation.
“Not only have these technologies and solutions accelerated their development on our island, but they have also leveraged the resources Puerto Rico offers to lead that growth. With diverse representation from Latin America, the United States, the Middle East, and Puerto Rico, we once again position the island as a global innovation hub,” added Dr. Héctor Jirau, Executive Director at parallel18.
Generation 11 consisted of companies from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, the United States, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. These included: Cuvro (Puerto Rico), Quibble (Puerto Rico), Buzzzy (Puerto Rico), EcoSiS (Mexico), PATHBOOKS (Mexico), R3D (Mexico), Kasera (Mexico), Nume (Mexico/Argentina), CryptoMate (Argentina), Flexit (Argentina), Foothold (USA), Parrots Inc. (USA), Recepta Inc. (USA/Azerbaijan), GyftGram (USA), Sekure (Colombia), Skyblue Analytics (Uruguay), Unicorn Academy (Peru), Adaflow (Brazil), and Botcity (Dominican Republic).
Eng. Lucy Crespo, CEO of PRSTRT, emphasized the Trust’s confidence in the 19 valuable companies, marking the second cohort in which they invested. She anticipated the impact these companies would have on the local and international economy as they grow and expand into more markets.
“We celebrate that 275 companies have now completed the international acceleration program P18. This cohort is the second in which the Trust has made an investment, and we do it because we believe in each of these 19 valuable companies. I am confident that the learning and mentoring they have received during the past 20 weeks at parallel18 will allow them to continue growing and expanding into more markets, facing challenges, and seizing business opportunities, thus impacting the local and international economy,” emphasized Eng. Lucy Crespo, CEO of PRSTRT.
In addition to the DemoDay, the parallel18 Ventures Summit brought together program alumni and investors, offering a platform for companies currently raising capital to pitch their products and services to local and international investors.
The People’s Choice Award went to Cuvro, earning them a $2,500 cash prize sponsored by Banco Popular. Buzzzy received the GiveBack Award for contributing the most to the entrepreneurial community, presented by the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce (NPRCC) with a value of $1,000.
DECA Analytics awarded services and cash prizes to Gen. 11 companies Cuvro, Buzzzy, Pathbooks, and Parrots, totaling over $6,000 in services for Cuvro and $2,000 cash for the others. The parallel18 Ventures Summit featured awards sponsored by the NPRCC, offering three companies cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250.
Disclosure: This article originally appeared on The Sociable. It mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.