The Puerto Rico’s Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) has announced an investment of USD 225,000 through the follow-up fund parallel18 Ventures in four Puerto Rican and Latin American startups in return for stocks or convertible notes, as a match to private capital raised by the companies.
The fund carries the name of accelerator parallel18 (P18), which is a program of the PRSTRT and is awarded to startups that have been part of P18’s cohorts. This time, the companies were part of Generation 4, which completed the program in March of 2018. The fourth round of parallel18 Ventures comprised StageBoom and BrainHi, from Puerto Rico, Workep (Colombia), and Wisboo (Argentina).
StageBoom created the first single digital platform for searching, booking, and paying for live music. It’s currently available in Puerto Rico and plans to spread to other markets in the Americas.
BrainHi developed an automated receptionist for doctor and dentist offices, which answers missed calls and chats with potential patients. This team is the first Puerto Rican startup accepted to YCombinator, the top startup accelerator in the world.
Workep is the most powerful project management platform for G Suite, which uses Artificial Intelligence to centralize and automate team work. Workep raked in USD 500,000 a month after the parallel18 program. Among their clients are companies like Vodafone, Norauto, Sheraton Hotels, and more. Workep has more than 70,000 users in 120 countries. The company is now raising another seed round of USD 1.2 million to keep expanding in the US and European markets and are also starting a version for Office365.
Wisboo created a SaaS solution enable education businesses to form digital versions of their physical courses and sell them on their own online schools, helping them develop their business; like a ‘Shopify’ for digital products. After graduating Parallel 18, Wisboo has been the only Latin American startup to be accepted to Startupbootcamp Scale Program in Silicon Valley, where they are raising their first USD 1 million seed round.
Parallel18 Ventures is a follow-up fund designed to co-invest in potential startups that complete the acceleration curriculum. With the program, the PRSTRT matches private capital raised by the entrepreneurs in exchange for stocks or convertible notes. To receive the funds, each startup is required to run operations in Puerto Rico and hire at least three full-time employees in the Island in the next two years. Till now, parallel18 Ventures has invested USD 900,000 in 12 P18 alumni. Eleven of the companies are still in operations today, with many having raised additional investment to support their ongoing growth.
“We’re proud to continue supporting the growth of these parallel18 alumni. Their progress and ability to raise external capital from local and international investors is an indicator of maturity in Puerto Rico’s startup ecosystem. As an organization focused on creating the optimal conditions to promote innovative entrepreneurship on the island, we are committed to maintaining this momentum, so that it replicates more through our different programs and initiatives,” said Lucy Crespo, Chief Executive Officer of the PRSTRT.
The PRSTRT plans to keep its stocks in the startups for a limited time, so that the funds can then be invested again into other parallel18 Ventures startups to keep the program running.
Parallel18 Ventures was created to address four main objectives: nurture retention of entrepreneurial aptitude attracted and developed by parallel18; incentivize the investment of local capital in startups; educate the local community about best practices regarding investment in high-impact startups, and generate direct and measurable economic impact by enabling employment of talent in Puerto Rico.
Sebastian Vidal, Executive Director for the accelerator, said that investors in the US and Latin America are starting to notice the island’s innovation scene as a consequence of augmented startup activity.
“In the past year, we’ve seen local funds lead investment rounds of over USD 1 million in companies backed by parallel18 Ventures, which certainly raises the bar and represents a vote of confidence to the founders and teams working to create innovative companies in Puerto Rico to reach global markets,” pointed out Lucas Arzola, Director of Operations at P18.
Other companies in parallel18 Ventures portfolio are Burea, Cinemad, Be Better Hotels, Brands Of, Timokids, Abartys Health, and Quiena.