Parallel18 is a top-level, performance-driven international startup program with a social mission: offering entrepreneurs from all over the world access to high-quality business training, grants, mentors, business contacts and investors to help them scale globally while working to position Puerto Rico as a unique hub for innovative businesses and technology.
The program is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust, a private non-profit organization created with the goal of maximizing Puerto Rico’s participation and creation of jobs in the global knowledge economy by promoting investment and financing of science and technology research development. The organization manages and hosts over a dozen initiatives that range from grants and technical support to meetups and educational resources for researchers, entrepreneurs, farmers, investors, and other groups.
Startups struggle to find a bridge between Latin America and the U.S., and Puerto Rico is in the middle of the action. The island has a multicultural society: we share cultural aspects with the Latin American society; the influence and infrastructure of the United States, and also have a connected diaspora throughout the world. Our geographic location is very convenient (airplane tickets are under US $500 to Latam, Mainland US, and Europe), and Puerto Rico has lower cost of living, when compared to other innovation and tech hubs in the U.S. We have competitive taxation and business incentives under US laws, that help you direct your money towards growth.
Puerto Rico is located in the parallel of latitude 18, hence the name of the program, since it highlights focusing on our strategic location between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Midway between North and South America, it is the perfect bridge to both continents and the world’s fastest-growing economies. Puerto Rico is serviced by many major airlines from gateway cities in the US. It is only a two and a half hour, non-stop flight from Miami and a four-hour flight from New York. You can also get direct international flight services to Bogota, Madrid, Frankfurt, London, and Panama City.
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States. As a U.S. territory, it is subject to both federal and local laws and we share a common currency. This unique relationship guarantees economic, legal, and regulatory stability for investors and businesses. A couple of benefits include:
Parallel18 is an intense five-month acceleration program, that hosts two cohorts a year of up to 40 startups each. Companies that participate in the program will receive a US $40K, delivered in two sets of US $20K. During the 20 weeks of the program, startups get strong mentorship, access to our investor network, and business connections with big companies in Puerto Rico. In exchange, entrepreneurs will engage with local universities and schools to teach and mentor students on a regular basis. When they finish the program, alumni have the chance to apply for the follow-on matching fund P18Ventures.
Applications open twice a year. To learn about application or announcement dates, stay tuned to our social media platforms and web page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who’s over 18 years of age and has a startup ready to scale. These companies have to have some traction (sales or users), be in operations for three years or less, and a C-level founder must be willing to come to Puerto Rico for 20 weeks. The founder who comes in as the team leader must have equity in the company and must dedicate full-time to the startup. The companies must be incorporated in Puerto Rico or the United States (authorized to make business in Puerto Rico.) If your startup is not incorporated in any of these places, the program will provide you the contacts of service providers who can help you in this process.
Parallel18 is looking for global minds who want to expand their business in and from Puerto Rico. We are looking for globally oriented startups that are easy to scale. Companies need to have traction and must have less than three years of operations. It is critical that the founder of each startup participating in the program is willing to live in Puerto Rico for 5 months. Founders must be willing to participate in a collaborative environment and to comply with the program specifics.
Yes, the startup can be based in Puerto Rico or in any other country at the time of application. The startup must have three years of operations or less.
Projects must be at least in a stage where the concept was validated and the company has enough traction to be able to scale operations. These projects must have three years of operations or less. To apply you need to fill out the application form on the YouNoodle platform. Applications open twice a year.
Parallel18 has a multi-step judging process. After applications are closed, the P18 team does an internal screening to understand which companies comply with the program’s basic requirements. Those who advance to judging will be evaluated by more than 100 international judges recruited by the parallel18 team, using criteria provided by the program. Each startup is reviewed by at least three judges. Finally, a Selection Board, composed by players of the Puerto Rico entrepreneurial ecosystem, selects the up to 40 startups that participate in each cohort.
The parallel18 team, the YouNoodle team, the international judges and SelectionBoard will have access to your application. All documents are kept completely confidential and are not shared with external sources.
Applications will be evaluated on the following:
All of them are explained in detail in our Terms and Conditions.
Although we wish you all the luck in the world, we don’t accept startups focused on small businesses, import/export, and franchises.
No, we speak Spanglish! All of the Program communications will be in English and, being a bilingual country, lots of people speak or understand English. We are still a Spanish-speaking country though, so learning the basics is always recommended. If your first language is Spanish, we highly recommend that you learn English given that all activities will be in this language.
We strongly suggest having recommendations in your application. However, they are not required. They should be written by an investor, mentor, academic or entrepreneur who can talk about the team’s talent and experience. Invite your recommender in the form and YouNoodle’s system will then send an email with a unique notification to that person. Make sure to tell your recommenders to check their junk mail, just in case the request was sent to that folder. The person that is writing the recommendation letter will be able to access the application form. He or she will have to answer the following questions:
This person will also be able to view it, but not edit the application. The applicant will not have access to see the answers to the recommendation letter. You can submit a maximum of 3 recommendations.
That’s right! You must prepare a 3-minute pitch video about your startup in English, in which you present the founding team. The video should answer three main questions:
You must provide a direct YouTube or Vimeo link of your pitch video. Make sure it is not password-protected. Remember to present the founding team in person in the video.
Yes, only the beneficiary and founders identified on the application will be able to use grant money to reimburse their tickets.
Parallel18 will provide local housing providers in the neighborhood. You can choose whether to use your grant money to cover your living expenses or cover the rent at your own expense, and use the Parallel18 funds fully for your company.
No. Parallel18 will provide contacts with local health insurance providers. You must have evidence of valid health insurance if you want this expense to be approved as part of your budget. You must submit proof of your health insurance, which must cover you for the duration of the program and show evidence before signing your grant contract.
Aside from the Beneficiary/team leader of the startup, there is a limit of two additional team members who will be able to join the program upon their team’s acceptance. Team members have to apply on the same application form of the startup. Make sure both the startup’s team leader and team members (up to 2) are included in the application form. It’s not required for team members to live in Puerto Rico for 5 months: they can be part of the startup and work abroad. Team members included in the application form are also allowed to submit their expenses for the reimbursement process. However, the startup cannot hire services from the team members or from companies owned by them. All expenses must be under the name of either the founder (beneficiary) or one of the team members specified in the application form.
You should let us know as soon as you get the notification of being selected. We will need to find if there is a strong case behind the delay on your arrival.
The entity is the legal company duly specified in the application form behind the startup applying to the program. The entity needs to be incorporated or authorized to do business in Puerto Rico in the United States or Puerto Rico as a Corp. or LLC company. In the case that the company does not have the legal figure the program will provide you the contacts of service providers who can help you in this process. If you’re planning to apply to any of the tax incentives available for startups, you need to be incorporated in the Island.
Entrepreneurs that come to Parallel18 usually have the B1 Visa for business purposes. However, we always encourage you to consult with your country’s U.S. embassy.
Startups can apply for several tax incentives according to their needs and to the operations they leave in the Island. Generally companies apply for Act 20, and Act 73. If you want more information about tax incentives and startups, send an email to email@example.com
The program requires six to eight hours a week for the following activities:
Mondays: KPIs meeting at a specific 45-minute time slot (depending on the group some of these meetings can be an hour long.)
Tuesdays: Visiting Mentors will provide a Mentor Session from 9:00 to 10:30 am. Local mentors will provide their talks from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.
From Wednesday to Thursday there will be optional office hours with local and visiting mentors that are highly encouraged.
P18Connect pitch practices and meetings: these are optional, but highly encouraged, and have the purpose of connecting startups with big local companies in Puerto Rico.
No, Parallel18 only accepts for profit companies.