Puerto Rican accelerator begins search for ninth generation of international startups that can scale globally

StartupBeat Team
By StartupBeat Team April 21, 2021
Image credit: parallel18

The San Juan, Puerto Rico-based startup accelerator parallel18 has opened up the search for the ninth cohort to take part in its intensive startup growth program called P18.

Parallel18 will be choosing from 40 top international startups that are just getting off the ground with their product, as participant brands have to be three years or younger.

The startup program then gives a $40,000 equity-free fund to the participating entrepreneurs as they set out on an intensive 20 weeks of mentoring and support from top investors connected to parallel18.

Eduardo Padial, operations director at parallel18 (Image credit: parallel18)
Eduardo Padial, operations director at parallel18 (Image credit: parallel18)

“(Entrepreneurs) are able to formulate business models and solutions that are scalable from day one, knowing that we’re on an island, knowing that we’re building something that can be global,” Eduardo Padial, operations director at parallel18, said.

After being founded in 2015, parallel18 has already helped raise more than $126 million total for the 200-plus companies that have come through the P18 accelerator.

Parallel 18 has found success in making Puerto Rico not just an attractive destination for foreign startups during the accelerator program, but a place many of them continue to call home long after they graduate from P18. In fact, 65 percent of the graduates of the program ultimately remain operating on the island in some capacity. Much of that, Padial said, is because of the unique business partnerships that P18 provides.

“That’s something that we’re really proud of because it shows that the program is focused in helping the local ecosystem,” he said. “We have a great program that provides connections between entrepreneurs and the startups.”

Nearly a quarter of parallel18 alumni say they were better suited to close deals with corporate partners because of the P18 program, per the company’s most recent Impact Report.

Since the pandemic began, this ninth cohort will mark the first time that participating will happen in a hybrid setting, as two prior versions of the program had to be completely virtual to follow lockdown protocols.

Image credit: parallel18
Image credit: parallel18

Padial said the all-virtual cohorts were great experiences, but that this partially in-person setting allows for entrepreneurs to get acquainted with Puerto Rico and its business environment.

“It allows those who are from outside of Puerto Rico to have a good understanding of the market here,” he added. “It can be a very strong test market because it’s under U.S. federal laws, but also has a Hispanic culture. So just by being here it gives you a better sense of how to sell and how to engage.”

Companies interested in signing up for the next program must complete the online application before May 11. To qualify, startups must be in operation for no more than three years and have a sales product that can scale globally.

Startups that apply will then go through a three-part process that includes an internal evaluation by parallel18 staff, a judging round that features more than 100 international judges, and a selection committee made up of investors and entrepreneurs. Those who are chosen will be announced in July and the program will begin in August.