Frequently Asked Questions

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General

What is the Parralel18 Program?

Parallel18 is an economic development initiative that attracts early stage, high-impact startups that can scale from Puerto Rico to global communities, beyond the island, including Mainland US, Latin America, and Europe. The goal of the program is to position Puerto Rico’s as a unique gateway to scale globally. We have the support of the Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company.

Why is PR a unique gateway to scale globally?

There is a lack of a bridge for startups between Latin America and the US, and Puerto Rico is in the middle of the action. The island has a multicultural society, we are a Latin American society with a US influence, and we have a connected diaspora throughout the world. Our geographic location is very convenient (tickets are under 400 USD to Latam, US Mainland and Europe), and Puerto Rico has lower costs of living, compared to other innovation and tech hub capitals. We have competitive taxation and business incentives under US laws.

Where exactly is Puerto Rico located?

Puerto Rico is located in the parallel of latitude 18, hence the name of the program; 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 Caracas, Madrid, Frankfurt, London and Panama City.

What is the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States?

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:

Program Specifics

How does Parallel18 work?

Parallel 18 consists of a 5-month intense acceleration program, with 2 cohorts per year of up to 40 startups each. Companies will receive equity free grant ($40,000 delivered in two sets of $20,000) with an opportunity for follow-on funds if they choose to stay in Puerto Rico. In exchange, entrepreneurs will engage with local universities to teach and mentor students on a regular basis. Alumni will be eligible for up to $75,000 in matching funds when they raise capital, in an effort to retain talent and help startups scale from the island.

When can I apply to Parallel18?

Applications open twice a year. To learn about application or announcement dates, stay tuned to our social media platforms and web page or email cobi@parallel18.com.

Who can apply to Parallel18?

Anyone who’s over 18 years of age and has at least a prototype for a globally scalable business, the company can’t be more than 3-years old. Team leaders will need to dedicate full-time to the startup, and program participants may not be more than 3 people. Must be Puerto Rican or US companies, in the case that you have not incorporated your company in any of these places the program will help you out to set-up everything upon the beginning of the program.

What type of entrepreneur is Paralell18 looking for?

Parallel18 is looking for global minds who want to start or expand their business in Puerto Rico. We are looking for globally oriented startups that are easy to scale. Companies need to at least have a prototype and must be under three years old. It is critical that the founder of each startup participating in the program is willing to live in Puerto Rico for 5 months.

Can my startup be based in Puerto Rico at the time of application?

Yes, the startup can be based in Puerto Rico or in any other country at the time of application. The startup must be 3 years old or less.

What do I need to apply?

Projects must be at least in a stage where the concept was validated and the company is prepared to scale operations, understanding these to be projects with less than three years. To apply you need to fill out the application form on our website, click here to apply.

Who is going to review my application to Parallel18?

Parallel 18 is working closely with YouNoodle to manage the application and selection process. Each application will be screened as to whether it is a good fit for the program (Globally oriented, less than 3 years, scaling operations, etc) and then it will be advanced to judging. In judging, YouNoodle has a board of judges that review all eligible startups based on set criteria (see below). Finally, Parallel18’s local board will review the results of the judging and select the final 40 to be accepted to the program.

What is the key criteria for application evaluation?

Your application will be evaluated based on how differentiated and innovative your product or service is. The company must target a global market and also be clearly differentiated from competitors. The experience and qualifications of team members and cohesiveness of team will also be evaluated, and lastly their focus and dedication to the business. Here are the 4 key evaluation criteria and their weights:

I’m launching a restaurant, can I participate in Parallel18?

No, Startups focused on small businesses, import/export, and franchises won’t be funded by Parallel18 because we don’t consider them scalable startups.

Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?

No, we speak Spanglish! All of the Program communications will be in English, and being a bilingual country, a lot 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.

Who is going to have access to my application?

Competition managers and judges will review each application and verify eligibility. All documents are kept completely confidential, and are not shared with external sources.

Do I need a recommendation letter?

Yes, every startup needs a recommendation letter from an investor, mentor, academic or entrepreneur who can write about the team’s talent and experience. When you begin filling out the application form via our website or YouNoodle, you will have to provide the email of the person that wrote your recommendation letter. YouNoodle’s system will then send an email with a unique notification to that person. 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 see the team’s application and will only be able to view it, and not edit the application. The applicant will not have access to see the answers to the recommendation letter. An application cannot be submitted until the recommendation letter has been filled out, you can submit a maximum of 3 recommendations.

Do I need to pitch a video?

That’s right! You must prepare a 3 minute pitch video about your startup in English, and present the founding team. The video should answer 3 questions:

You must provide a direct YouTube or Vimeo link of your pitch video. Make sure it is not password-protected and be sure to present the founding team in person in the video.

Will my airplane ticket be covered by Parallel18?

Yes, only the beneficiary and founders identified on the application will be able to reimburse their tickets.

Community

Will the program provide me with housing?

Parallel18 will connect you with local housing providers in the neighborhood. You can choose whether to use your living expense budget, provided by Parallel18, to cover your rent; or cover the rent at your own expense, and have Parallel18 funds fully for your company.

Will Parallel18 provide me with health insurance?

No. Parallel18 will connect you with local health insurance providers. You must have evidence of a 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.

What about my team members? How many can/should I have? Are they required to live in Puerto Rico?

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. They are not required to work full-time on the startup: we highly recommend them to do so, but it is not mandatory. 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.

I can’t arrive on the starting date, what can I do?

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.

Do I have to be incorporated in Puerto Rico?

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 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 assist you to create one during the beginning of the program.

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