This post is the first of a series of stories featuring the entrepreneurs who participated in Unreasonable Mexico’s 2015 program.

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

Overrun failure

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.

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About the author

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Jose is co-founder of Unreasonable Mexico, aiming to support ventures that are solving Mexico’s toughest challenges. Before that, he worked for a Social Incubator at Tec de Monterrey, providing support to micro-entrepreneurs; coordinated an early-stage seed fund that supported a dozen companies; and adventured in the startup world by launching a company that soon failed.

  • Jose Medina

    Is there any other “mindset” aspect that you consider is essential to become an unreasonable entrepreneur?

  • Leonard Jackson

    This is an excellent and informative article on the state of entrepreneurship in Mexico. I was most intrigued to learn about how the government has been supportive of entrepreneurial ventures. It appears
    that the government understands that entrepreneurial venture of all types have the potential of creating positive outcomes for everyone, while at the same time, help the country achieve its development goals. Indeed, I was surprised to learn about the government’s direct initiatives including the forming of the entrepreneurship bureau and dedicating a week as the country’s national entrepreneurship week. Clearly, this shows that the government sees value in entrepreneurship. It also appears as though the government’s initiatives are gaining traction as evidenced by the more than 70,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and investors who participated in the recent entrepreneurship week event. The support is also highlighted by the fact that the Mexican Association of PE & VC Funds (Amexcap) has raised
    around 25 billion USD in funding over the past ten years to ventures.

    I believe the advice you provided on capitalizing on opportunities is excellent. You suggested that those perusing opportunities should: ask for help; form partnerships via a community style approach and; take risks. I like the third advice best as successful entrepreneurs are true risk takers who are not afraid to take risks. I would like to add that when forming partnerships, it is important to partner with those who
    can complement your existing skills and talents. I also support your advice that the Mexican entrepreneurs should not be myopic or parochial in their ventures, but instead, they should develop ventures that can serve the Latin American and US markets. Thus, develop a global mindset. Could you provide more information on the types of incentives the government provides to encourage the growth of
    entrepreneurial ventures? Thanks.

  • Simone Anwtwi

    Thank you
    for posting this really intriguing and informative article. Not many people
    consider the state of entrepreneurship in another country unless they have a
    global mindset. It is very important to be aware of the state of
    entrepreneurship in Mexico because the country is so close to the United
    States. There are so many problems in the country that need solving and the
    entrepreneurs are addressing and the support from the government is helping the
    country to grow rapidly in this area. This is evident in the funds raised by
    Amexcap, to support growing countries in the last decade and the National
    Entrepreneur Week, which was an event created by the Mexican government.
    Learning about the government support in Mexico was really intriguing and sparked
    my interest to do more research in this area.

    Another part
    of this article that really stood out to me was the advice you provided on how
    to capitalize on opportunities. Being a part of a collegiate team all the areas
    you mentioned are what is preached to us the day we step on campus. Asking for
    help and forming community partnerships can be applied to more than flourishing
    in the entrepreneurial community. On a team not one person can win the games by
    themselves (unless they play tennis or cross country) and the better
    relationships you have with others the more successful you are likely to be. Your
    last piece of advice really hit home for me, about taking risk and how it can
    be beneficial to your success. When you take risk you are more likely to
    overcome challenges you faced before or takes steps closer to solving it. This ties
    in with the concept of failing, many people don’t take risk because they are
    scared to fail but failure is just one of the steps one must take in order to
    achieve success.

    I am really
    appreciative that I found this article at this time during my post season
    tournament because the advice you put in here are all the things both me and my
    team need to think about in order to be as successful as we want.

  • ximena vivanco

    Right on point with TACO. Being a Mexican in the US, I especially want to highlight two points: Think big or go home and Community. Personally thinking big is a huge issue, especially for Mexico. We have the opportunity to create even bigger bridges from lets say Mexico and the US if we tap all markets at once. I’ve recently worked with low income Mexican immigrants in the US and it was interesting to notice from our conversations that the do felt forgotten of left out, not only in the US, but even back at home. Some good examples of thinking big is startups such as money transfer apps without fees. Also, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that community is really everything, especially when you’re not home. Surrounding myself with Mexicans living in the US has helped me keep the conversation going and building support groups and teams of people who are definitely unreasonable. You definitely learn to value relationships and the potential that a group of passionate people can have.

  • Cody Palmer

    I really like and agree with the methods used to get the economic ball rolling for Mexico that are represented in this article. TACO incorporates the major components of ambition, guidance, resources and confidence that any entrepreneur needs in order to succeed. The statement, “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,” was shocking to me. Focusing on the younger generations of today is what shapes the outcome of tomorrow. I think a great deal of focus should be placed on improving education. These children that aren’t receiving the education they deserve are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, and they need to be well prepared with such a large task at hand.

    Great article! I enjoyed the read.

  • Kiera Keesecker

    Thank you for sharing. It is so important to have a global mindset when it comes to issues like this. Often times I look around at my piers and question their knowledge of society, not just our society, but the millions of others that occupy this planet alongside us. Why aren’t more people interested in knowing what is happening in society? Why don’t more people care? Unreasonable brings light to what is happening in Mexico. The growing economy will bring opportunity for Mexico to be made known. For others to get involved, to see an opportunity to invest in people who are capable of producing booming results. That is what excites me about this article, a growing awareness that Mexico is actively fighting its issues and that each small success is one step closer to the end goal. What really stood out to me was the idea to Overrun failure. “Being an entrepreneur means taking chances” Change will never happen unless it starts from the ground up. Those in poverty, those without resources, they are the key. We must be willing to take risks, to give people a chance, and to truly invest in trusting those who live it out every day. Taking chances is a necessary component of change, and unreasonable embodies this to the fullest. My next question is how thorough is the follow up process with these entrepreneurs, after the 5 week training? Do they receive consistent support so that when issues arise ( because issues WILL arise) they are equipped to move forward and tackle deviations from the plan? If we are talking about long term sustainable business, what kind of safe guards are in place to make sure that continual growth is a top priority?

  • Brandom Martinez

    First of all, thanks for sharing. This is truly inspiring and is great to see that social entrepreneurs are everywhere and that we are not only focusing learning about the social problems that occurs in the United States but are also seeing how other cultures try to fix their own social problems. This article is very informative, its great to see how Mexico implemented a National Entrepreneur Week increasing awareness providing great opportunities for investors that are eager to help these young entrepreneurs and their country as well. I understand mexico is among the most corrupt nations in the world and this is disappointed, in fact, it is very disappointing that many Latin american countries are in the same situation and I understand when a country suffers from corruption because I have lived in one before coming to the US, (NICARAGUA) and I can argue that is not easy to live in a country like that which is why I understand why so many people migrate to the US to find better opportunities. Also I was surprise to see that 15 years old are rank last in some education materials but is truly inspiring to see that people care and they are fighting to solve situations like this I am glad I read this article, it got me more informed about the situation in mexico and I am happy for this country because there are so many great people in it that like to help and contribute to well-being more than their own government.

  • Jessica Stenglein

    I was first attracted to this article by Jose Medina because
    of the headline. I love tacos and Mexican food of any form, but obviously, this
    article did not relate to food at all. Although I previously knew of the
    corruption and poverty problems in Mexico, I was shocked to find out through
    this article that Mexico was ranked as the most corrupt country in the OECD.
    Additionally, I did not know that Mexico’s 15-year-old students rank last in
    reading, math and science according to the OECD. This article shined a light on
    the fact that although Mexico has made strides forward and is soon to be the
    world’s fifth largest economy, there is still a great need for social change in
    the country. As I read through this engaging article, I enjoyed the TACO
    acronym put together by the people at Unreasonable. Not only do thinking big,
    asking for help, valuing community and overrunning failure serve as important
    qualities for inciting social change, they also relate to every day life.
    Today, college students, including myself, face many challenges as we work
    towards our dreams and goals while balancing classes, friends and
    extracurriculars, among other things. College students can utilize this acronym
    by not only thinking big and thinking about how they will impact the world both
    during and beyond college, but by also asking for help in both achieving
    balance and working toward their goals. Additionally, they can incorporate the “C”
    for “community is everything” by surrounding themselves with people who will
    support them. Lastly, college students face failure every day, whether it’s a
    low exam grade or an idea that didn’t become successful. However, moving past
    this will allow the students of today to become the leader’s the world needs in
    the future to solve social issues such as the ones faced by Mexico.

  • Thanks for this amazing post Jose Medina and the work you do spearheading Unreasonable Mexico. Truly putting a dent on our world’s biggest problems and am grateful for everything you do! I think another aspect of what it means to be an Unreasonable entrepreneur is being unrelenting – in the best way possible. Unrelenting in your passion and dedication to the problem you are solving and your steadfastness in taking whatever path necessary to realize your vision. Unrelenting under the pressure of subduing to the status quo – so necessarily, Unreasonable entrepreneurs and companies have a healthy disregard for the status quo. They don’t give way to notions such as “we can’t change the world”, “we can’t make money and have a big impact”, etc. I think Unreasonable entrepreneurs operate at the nexus of what the reality is and reimagining what it could be despite the constrains of our world today. And in that, they turn big problems into big opportunities in a way that has never been done before. Long story short, my answer is I think Unreasonable entrepreneurs are unrelenting which is an important aspect of what makes them exist today, and succeed in the long-term.

  • Sierra Stein

    Thank you so much for the insight. I am really looking forward to see what comes out of the Unreasonable Mexico project. I the principals laid out in TACO are empowering and I love the play on words “How TACOs are empowering Mexican Entrepreneurs.” In the future are you planning to launch Unreasonable initiatives in other countries with emerging or developing economies?