Ep 14 Sebastian Vidal, Building a Powerful Startup Accelerator in Puerto Rico

It’s always exciting when I get to sit down with someone like Sebastian Vidal. In his experience working as part of the Startup Chile team and now as the leader of Parallel18, a startup accelerator based in Puerto Rico he’s been part of the launch of over 1000 startups. Can you imagine the insights, connections, and lessons-learned a guy like that has? That’s what I wanted to tap into in this conversation, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Why a startup accelerator in Puerto Rico?

The Parallel18 team welcomes innovators from around the globe and helps them scale from Puerto Rico into global communities beyond the Island. Not only is Puerto Rico a beautiful place to base a company, it’s also positioned uniquely with tax structures that favor startups, infrastructure and travel connections that make it a world-class place to do business, and the ability to connect with entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe. The Parallel18 experience is one you should seriously consider if you are starting a company.

Startup funding runs out when you don’t focus on one specific thing.

When I asked Sebastian Vidal about the main lessons he’s learned in working as part of startup accelerators he immediately mentioned the importance of new companies having a clear and consistent focus.

When a team or founder is distracted or pulled away from the company’s primary mission by various things or ideas that come up, traction is lost and funds are wasted. In Sebastian’s experience, it’s one of the main reasons he’s seen startups fail. That’s why the Parallel18 mentors major on clear focus and the companies that are formed in the program come out stronger as a result.

Startups not only need a strong team, they need a team that is closely aligned.

In the startup culture, you often hear how important it is to have a strong team of qualified individuals that serve as the foundation of the company. No arguments here. But Sebastian Vidal says that there’s an additional aspect of the team that needs to be carefully considered: the chemistry and alignment that exists between those team members.

If you have a capable, competent team but they are not aligned and heading in the same direction, with the same sense of purpose, you’re going to have problems. Everything from splits down the middle of the company to improperly allocated funds could be the result. Find out how Sebastian has seen alignment become the do or die issue for many startups, on this episode of Crossing Borders.

When you become an entrepreneur in Latin America, you can change cultures and countries.

One of the things Sebastian Vidal loves about his role with Parallel18 is that he gets to see dramatic positive changes happen in cultures across Latin America due to the way the new companies that come out of the Parallel18 startup accelerator influence them.

Individual lives are changed. Economies grow. Sometimes entire governments restructure, all due to the way a new, innovative company adds value to the culture. You can hear Sebastian describe these kinds of changes and how Parallel18 has had a hand in it, on this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] How Sebastian made the transition to Puerto Rico from Chile.
  • [4:20] The challenge of starting Parallel 18 from scratch.
  • [6:08] The role Sebastian played in Startup Chile.
  • [11:00] Lessons learned working with over 1000 startups.
  • [22:15] Learning the lesson that focus is of paramount importance.
  • [27:01] The changes Sebastian made starting over with Parallel 18 in Puerto Rico.
  • [35:55] New perspectives from working with companies in Parallel 18.
  • [40:22] What types of companies should apply to be part of Parallel 18?
  • [47:05] How to connect with Sebastian and Parallel 18.

Resources & People Mentioned

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