Parallel 18: Equity Free Startup Accelerator in Puerto Rico

I recently visited Parallel 18, an equity free accelerator in Puerto Rico, to mentor their 3rd cohort of startups. Modeled after the successful Start-Up Chile program, Puerto Rico is trying to grow it’s startup ecosystem and change their culture to try to diversify their economy and start to build a tech sector.

Started in 2015 and now just starting Generation 4, Parallel 18 works with ~30 entrepreneurs per cohort. Parallel 18’s director Sebastian Vidal, an ex-director of Start-Up Chile, has iterated on the model and made improvements, including bringing investors and other mentors like me to talk to the teams each week. They’ve also created a local fund that can match VC investment that Parallel 18 companies are able to get.

I was really impressed by the quality of the teams and it’s clear that Parallel 18’s 3rd generation is way ahead of where Start-Up Chile was in their 3rd generation.

I was also interested in to learn about some of Puerto Rico’s tax incentives for startups, funds and successful entrepreneurs. I think Puerto Rico is an interesting example of a small place doing all it can to attract startups and will continue to keep an eye on the teams that come out of Parallel 18.

Here’s my talk that I gave to the Parallel 18 teams. The first half covers how teams from outside the US can raise money in the US, with practical tips on how to do it. The second half is about tips for launching businesses in Latin America, why we prefer B2B businesses and the realities of starting up in Latin America. The sound cuts out a little bit, as this recording was originally from a Facebook Live, but I hope it’s useful.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Vidal