Are you a startup company who’s ready to go global? Is your technology innovative or disruptive? Do you have a working prototype or final product? Have you been incorporated for less than three years? If this describes your team, Parallel 18 wants to help you accelerate your venture. An initiative based in the heart of Puerto Rico’s Metropolitan area, Parallel 18 seeks to help companies rise from validated ideas into globalized startups, as they explained during their visit to the UPRM Campus on January 26, 2017.
Parallel 18’s offer is hard to top, with $40k in equity-free funding and access to a co-working space where several successful entrepreneurs work together on a daily basis, their program is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and students alike. But beyond being a very attractive equity-free funding prospect, their program brings a very much needed opportunity for Puerto Rican and international applicants: high-level coaching and networking with people who have gone through the process of bringing up a startup successfully. The trials any startup must experience are often better understood by those who have gone through them before, and being able to work with these people is alone worth the risk of taking the challenge that Parallel 18 brings to the table. Yes, not all is peaches and cream; their motto “#workhardplaytropical” takes the ‘work hard’ part very seriously. For starters, you must have commercially validated your product through sales, and you and your team must be available to devote yourselves to your idea full time to be considered.
The full-time commitment might prove to be a bit hard for students to apply to, which is why they have organized an internship program. Through their internship program, Parallel 18 brings an invaluable opportunity for students of any discipline who wish to learn and understand not only how a startup works, but what makes them tic. This latter point was brought home by the visit of two entrepreneurs who are currently taking advantage of the opportunity. One of the companies, Brands of Puerto Rico, specializes in helping local entrepreneurs market their culturally inspired artisanal products through a webpage where they can easily be bought and shipped anywhere in the world. As simple as it sounds, their business is pulling at the heartstrings of an ever-growing diaspora who yearn for a piece of home, an inspiring reason to keep on. On the other hand, the cofounder of Be Better Hotels, Calixto Carbone, shared what it meant to be an entrepreneur, i.e. what differentiates someone who has a great idea from someone who decides to bring it to life. Long hours and small pay are sometimes required of an entrepreneur; therefore having a passionate team is a must. All in all, as Calixto later remarked, “a man with an idea is a crazy man, until the moment he succeeds”. His final message was a clear call to action: do not reinvent the wheel, rather seek to use it to innovate.
Parallel 18’s West Invasion was only the beginning of a great collaboration between the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem of the West Side of the Island, with the UPRM at its epicenter, and the very solid one of the Metropolitan Area. It’s our turn to step up to the plate, and change the world.