Silicon Valley is no longer the only hotspot for startup activity. Many more startup hotspots are popping up across Latin America, and new programs are not only bringing life to local economies but also helping Latin American entrepreneurs tap into international networks.
I was part of Start-Up Chile’s pilot round in 2010, which was the pioneering equity free accelerator in the world. Chile’s government-backed and equity-free accelerator program is well known for producing a vast network and many startup success stories.
By 2015, Start-Up Chile led to over 1,500 new jobs, its successful graduates raised over $100 million, and the program changed the culture around startups in Chile.
Now, under the direction of executive director Rocío Fonseca, Start-Up Chile offers multiple programs, including The S Factory, designed uniquely for female founders. Through its successes, Start-Up Chile has demonstrated Latin America’s incredible potential and sparked a movement across the region.(more…)
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. (more…)