According to Goldman Sachs, Mexico will represent the world’s fifth largest economy by 2050. In late March 2015, TechCrunch published an article outlining the Aztec startup scene, stating that as we are “moving out of the maquiladora manufacturers and free trade zones in the process of building the world’s next great economy, technology and innovation will be a part of the foundation of that economy.” This is exciting news for Mexico.
By 2050, Mexico will represent the world’s fifth largest economy. Tweet This Quote
We can actually feel this innovation rush happening now. October welcomed the National Entrepreneur Week (hosted by the Entrepreneur Bureau, recently created by the Mexican government). More than 70,000 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs took part in this gathering that linked them with potential investors.
Additionally, the Mexican Association of PE & VC Funds (Amexcap) has raised around 25 billion USD in funding in the last decade to support growing companies. Around 50 Startup Weekend events are held each year across the country. Just this past month, three huge entrepreneurship festivals occurred in the cities of Guadalajara, Monterrey and San Miguel de Allende, showing that the startup scene is little by little growing outside the boundaries of Mexico City.
Entrepreneurship is hot right now in Mexico, and there are a ton of problems to solve. Tweet This Quote
So, as you can see, entrepreneurship is hot right now in Mexico. And it’s no surprise—the basic premise of starting a company is to solve problems. But despite all of the optimism, there are still a ton of problems to solve in Mexico.
For instance, Mexico ranked the most corrupt country in the OECD. The Global Findex Database by the World Bank positions Mexico as a country where 30% of the poorest people still lack access to bank accounts. Even though the number of teachers in public schools has dramatically increased in the last couple of years, Mexico’s 15-year old students still rank last in mathematics, reading and science, according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment trials.
If both the number of entrepreneurs and the number of problems are growing fast, we ought to inspire and support even more unreasonable people willing to put their energy into solving Mexico’s Big F$%&g Problems. Over the past couple of years working with Unreasonable fellows, we developed an acronym that properly captures the Unreasonable Mexico mindset. We call it TACO.
Think big (or don’t waste your time)
Mexico’s problems alone represent a ton of opportunities—53 million people live in poverty. But a Mexican entrepreneur should be thinking about all of Latin America from the start. The same language, similar cultural traditions and barriers could lead to designing a product applicable to several other geographical contexts.
With similar language and culture, Mexican entrepreneurs should think about designing products for all of Latin America from the start. Tweet This Quote
But why stop with Latin America? The United States Latino population will soon have 1.5 trillion USD in buying power. Can we also export models to solve BFP’s in the U.S.’s “nostalgia market” (meaning all of the Mexicans living abroad)? Unreasonable 2014 fellows from Flor de Mayo have grown their impact 10X since last year, now providing jobs to more than 120 artisans in Puebla. To continue to scale, their new focus is selling their amazing shirts in America. A bigger market with a bigger purchasing capacity leads to a bigger impact.
Ask for help
After a 5-week intensive program, our Unreasonable fellows go back home to implement what they’ve learned. Three months after our second institute, we’ve seen a common pattern of those who are actually having results regarding fundraising and income generation—they ask for help. The image of the solo entrepreneur who can solve all world challenges just doesn’t work.
The image of the solo entrepreneur who can solve all world challenges just doesn’t work. Tweet This Quote
Asking for help has led Unreasonable Mexico 2015 fellow, Ncite, to pivot their educational video game model entirely. With the help of Unreasonable Mentor Arturo Galván (internet pioneer in Mexico), they are now aiming to become an iTunes for educational video games.
Community is everything
Amazing connections have sprouted after both our Unreasonable cohorts. A potential shared project between Sahna (doing preventive health in corporations) and WeDoctors (telemedicine platform) is starting to develop. DerTek (producing biodiesel and creating rural jobs) is sharing hectares with Kukua (proving jobs for women and improving nutrition by growing Moringa) for experimentation.
A traditional Mexican folk saying states, “Más vale solo que mal acompañado.” It translates to, “It’s better to be alone than with bad company.” But we propose a new one: “Be damn sure to surround yourself with good company.”
Be damn sure to surround yourself with good company. Tweet This Quote
Historically, Mexican entrepreneurs are risk averse, as our society punishes failure in general. But our need to implement effective impact models implies high risks. It took around 15 years for Banco Compartamos (co-founded by Unreasonable Mentor Ivan Mancillas) to serve its first million users through microfinance in Mexico and Latin America. Twenty years ago, when they started thinking of lending money to poor people without guarantees, everyone doomed them to failure. For most people, the idea was simply outrageous. Today, they serve three million customers. They took their chances while being misunderstood. Want to be unreasonable? Get that straight.
Being an entrepreneur means taking chances even if you’re misunderstood. Tweet This Quote
We are excited to share the stories of Mexican entrepreneurs who everyday obsess with working to tackle Mexico’s toughest challenges. So far, working with 22 ventures has been truly inspiring. Collectively, our 2014 cohort has raised more than 2.2 million USD in funding so far, increased their sales 2.7X and increased the number of customers and beneficiaries 2.4x. They are rocking it.
Our dream for Unreasonable Mexico is that every cohort’s impact grows bigger and bigger, and our hope is that these stories about the 2015 ventures inspire thousands of other entrepreneurs to get their hands dirty. We definitely need it, and these entrepreneurs are capable of doing it.