How startup accelerator P18 is luring founders to Puerto Rico

By Nick Kipley March 31, 2022

Positioned in the geographical beating heart of the Caribbean, and with a culture and language that are distinctly Latin, Puerto Rico provides access to the enormous LatAm and US markets as a territory of the United States, meaning entrepreneurs who want to set up a startup in the Caribbean paradise can do business in dollars and network with potential corporate clients spread from Buenos Aires to Santiago, and New York City to San Francisco.

Beautiful Puerto Rico

To facilitate founders’ ability to do so, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust (PRSTRT) will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year by giving away ten $150,000 USD grants to science and tech startups through their newly reimagined Parallel18 (P18) international acceleration program. P18 normally awards smaller grants of $40,000 USD to 40 startups for a 20-week accelerator program, so this tenth-anniversary special edition of the P18 program (P18 GenX) marks a milestone for the island’s tech ecosystem by offering founders deeper financial traction on their journey to scale globally.

P18 GenX aims to provide underrepresented Latin founders with access to a diverse accelerator aimed at empowering them through education, business connections, investment opportunities, and a continuously expanding community network that spans over 200 local and international companies. After ten years of taking companies to the next level, 85% of P18-funded companies continue to operate to this day.

A tropical storm of fresh capital

Juan Carlos Hernández
Executive Director at Parallel18

$150k in funding means founders are free to spend less time looking for money and more time innovating and building their products. If awarded funding, founders can expect a check for $125k on day one of the 20-week program, followed by additional resources that can help them monitor the growth and structure of their companies while networking with potential corporate clients around the world.

To allow PRSTRT to continue expanding the entrepreneurship programs on the island to reach new generations of entrepreneurs, the terms for accepting the money comes at extremely low stakes. How low? Founders are only expected to pay back the fund 1% of the value of their company’s shares at the time of its acquisition or IPO (Initial Public Offering). 

The second payment of $25,000 comes on a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) uncapped with a Most Favored Nation (MFN) provision. The MFN provision will take on the terms of the lowest cap SAFE, or other favorable terms, between the acceptance to the program and the company’s next equity round.

P18 GenX – Apply Now

Founders interested in applying must fill out the application form before midnight, (AST/UTC-4). Then, via a competitive process of internal and external evaluation via selection committees and personal interviews with the startup’s founders.

The conditions to receive funding require applicant companies to be under three years old and with validated innovative products generating revenue on the market. Most importantly, each company must have at least two founders living and working with the startup full-time, in Puerto Rico, who are capable of explaining how they will incorporate their business into the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to scale their business.

P18 will select and announce the official cohort for GenX by mid-May this year, with the 20-week intensive program slated to begin in late June. 

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.