When people hear that I, an early stage tech investor, decided to move away from Silicon Valley (SV), the land of startups, to Puerto Rico, they assume it is because either, I didn’t like SV, or that I was enticed by the PR tax incentives. Both guesses are wrong, very wrong. The truth is, I still adore “Silicon Valley,” the definition of which has grown to include all of the San Francisco Bay Area. I also knew about the tax breaks in Puerto Rico long before I decided to move here. The truth is, I moved to Puerto Rico because I fell in love.
I fell in love with the people, the culture, the energy, the weather and the massive opportunity to help grow the innovation powerhouse that is bubbling up in every crack and crevice of this beautiful island.
My journey to PR began in 2016 with a phone call from a friend (who now takes credit for every good thing that has happened in my life since. LOL). It was shortly after I sold the software company I founded and, since I had been traveling for a couple of weeks, he suggested I also come to Puerto Rico, where he was participating in a startup accelerator program. “Sure. Why not. Sounds like fun,” I said. Yet, within two minutes of hanging up the phone, an overwhelming feeling of guilt came over me. I had been working my entire life, and it felt both strange and irresponsible to be traipsing around the world doing nothing. So, I called him back.
“You said you were in an accelerator program… Do they have a demo day?”
“Yes, and it’s coming up. I’ll introduce you to the organizers.”
The accelerator program was Parallel 18 (P18), what is now the preeminent startup program in Puerto Rico. P18 is our version Y Combinator. At the time, P18 was completing its very first generation. The CEO, Sebastian Vidal, took a look at my background and invited me down to work with the startups and help judge the pitch competition on demo day.
The short story is that I was completely blown away by the strength of program and the caliber of the startups. Given the number of startup pitch competitions I had judged at that point, it took something special to impress me, and these founders were knocking it out of the park. Needless to say, I kept coming back… Gen 2, Gen 3, Gen 4… and eventually decided to move here. We are now on Gen 7 of P18, and to this day, Sebastian credits me as “the first angel investor to believe in Puerto Rico,” a title I am proud and honored to hold.
The bottom line is, I saw the work, the passion and the dedication being put into building a startup ecosystem in a community that has ALL the key ingredients to become a global innovation hub, and I wanted to be a part of it. I am here to lend a hand wherever I can, to share what I have learned over my 26 years in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur and investor, to support aspiring entrepreneurs, and to let the world know that Puerto Rico is on the rise!
The other day, a friend asked me my relationship status, and I said, “For right now, I’m married to Puerto Rico.” I love PR and the people of this island more than can be explained. You have to experience it for yourself to fully understand the magic.
Come here; you will see.