New York Federal Reserve Brings Shark Tank Vibe to Puerto Rico

Inspired by ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the New York Federal Reserve is bringing a pitch day to San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 27 and 28th. The event, modeled on one created by the Kansas City Fed in 2011, brings investors and community organizations together for a pitch competition.

Shark Tank in San Juan?

“Shark Tank” gathers wealthy angel investors to listen to brief pitches from business owners looking for money and expert support. The San Juan event presents 30 nonprofits and community-owned organizations chosen through an application process last fall. Each will have ten minutes to make a pitch, followed by five minutes of question and answer time.

Investors include banks, which will have some special incentives to encourage investment. The Community Reinvestment Act requires banks to lend money to low-income borrowers, and the organizations making the pitches will all qualify. The Federal Reserve is also required by this law to encourage banks to make loans of this kind.

On “Shark Tank,” pitches are accepted or rejected within minutes, but the Fed’s take will be less suspenseful. Applicants will have more opportunities to speak with potential investors over the course of the two-day event, and the Fed plans to follow up in months to come not only to help the plans become reality, but also to work out the best way to hold more events of this kind in future.

$50 million opportunity

The funding requests add up to about $50,000,000. Applicants may not receive that much — or they might receive more. Pitch days, pitch competitions, or demo days — whatever they’re called, they are an increasingly popular way for startups to receive funding.

The San Juan event does include some startups, but it will also present community organizations focusing on health initiatives and other community projects.

The NY Fed hopes that the “Shark Tank” process will encourage investors to attend the event in person, but they will also work with banks and individuals wanting to get in on the opportunity without visiting the Island.

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