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Startups Making a Difference in Puerto Rico

Check out some of the startups making a difference in Puerto Rico.

Steeped in billions of dollars of debt and with a rapidly declining population of young professionals, Puerto Rico has set its sights on technology and entrepreneurship to reinvent its economy. Because while 22,000 STEM students graduate each year in Puerto Rico, around 70% of them leave the island in search of better opportunities elsewhere. As a way of stopping the brain drain, Start-Up Chile founder Sebastián Vidal partnered with Parallel18, a startup accelerator in San Juan backed by the trust and the government. The goal? To make an impact with the economy as fast as possible while keeping our young professionals on the island. Covering everything from e-commerce, health, tourism, technology, and social media, the growth and impact of the startups below prove the results are already being felt. 

Welcome to Part 1 of an ongoing series highlighting startups in PR. In this article, we’re looking at two e-commerce companies that make some of the island’s magic a bit more accessible to our mainland friends.

Brands of Puerto Rico

Whether you want to purchase a beautiful handmade trinket for your new apartment, give your nostalgic friends in the diaspora the gift of a strong cup of Café Lareño coffee, or show off the wonders of the island to your international friends, Brands of Puerto Rico has many of the island’s favorite local exports.

Back in 2014, brothers Alan and Nestor Taveras created the now iconic e-commerce platform while living in the diaspora and missing the things that made home home. Traveras explains that Brands Of Puerto Rico primarily works with small to medium-sized businesses, with over 60% of them being female-founded. But what distinguishes them is what they provide for their customers: an emotional experience, a chance to go back home without leaving their rooms.

By 2018, Brands of Puerto Rico became the first Puerto Rican startup to raise $1M. Since then, Brands Of has expanded throughout Latin America, from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Guatemala to the Dominican Republic. 


It’s no secret that millions of Puerto Ricans live outside the island. After Hurricane María, though, it was expected that number would rise even more. Amid the instability of post-hurricane infrastructure, Carlos A. Goyco Blechman, a young man from Ponce, teamed up with psychology student Gerardo Enríquez Rivera to launch a project that would change the diaspora’s access to Puerto Rican literature.

The e-commerce book shop Libros787, aptly named after the island’s main area code, gathers a wide-ranging and diverse collection of Puerto Rican literature; everything from historical nonfiction, Puerto Rican prose and poetry, and children’s books.

During the project’s inception they signed 6 publishing houses, most of which operated solely through physical bookstores on the island, opening them to a more expansive market. Since then, they have formed a partnership with Brands of Puerto Rico and have received support from Parallel18, Puerto Rico’s international startup program. Recently, Goyco revealed to The Weekly Journal that they are in negotiations to launch a publishing house called 787 Editores.

Do you have a favorite local startup you’d like to see featured? Submit a start-up (or any local business or non-profit!) for editorial consideration, email info@puertoricoplus.com.

In this series

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41 min read

Start-Up Incubators in PR and How to Choose One

Looking for ways to expand your business or idea? Check out our list of start-up incubators in Puerto Rico.
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