I’m teaching a master’s level class called Global Political Economy for the first time this semester. We are participating in a project on Mexican entrepreneurship with the State Department’s Diplomacy Lab. I had never heard of the Lab before a couple of months ago, but the department is experimenting with crowd sourcing research topics it would like to see answered (note to self: must try this!).
Even though I know a fair amount about the Mexican economy, the current state of entrepreneurship in the country is not something I’m familiar with. Fortunately, it is something I would like to know more about, so this project will be a good learning experience for me and the students.
I’ve had students gathering sources on the topic and I have done the same. I decided to see if anyone has asked and answered questions on Mexican entrepreneurship on Quora and found some fascinating answers. At least in Mexico City, it sounds like the state of entrepreneurship is thriving. Here are a couple of my favorite Q & As from the site:
Q1: “What is the entrepreneurial ecosystem like in Mexico City? I’ve recently started a trip through Latin America trying to get a feel for the entrepreneurial ecosystems in the region. I started in Mexico City and have posted two of my four interviews there so far. Both interviewees so far have said that they feel Mexicans lack role models and mentors and that there isn’t a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship in Mexico.Is this true? If yes, what do you think can be done to help build such a culture and should those steps be taken?”
The most popular answer was written by M. Chris Johnson, Founder of LatAmStartupBlog.com
He starts by stating something that I think is really important to recognize: “We need to define our terms here — what I assume you’re talking about is tech entrepreneurship (this is my interest as well). If we’re talking about general entrepreneurship, that’s a different story. There’s really no shortage of entrepreneurial zeal in Mexico; Mexicans are a hardworking lot and you can see all sorts of entrepreneurship, from people selling things on the street to the ubiquitous abarrotes that are generally mom & pop shops. However, most Mexicans that are in these businesses don’t seem to consider themselves emprendedores. They’re just making a living.”
Definitely worth reading his whole answer, but the short version is that he believes the “ecosystem is growing fast, and business conditions in Mexico are also evolving quickly (for the better).” He points specifically to an event called Startup Weekend, writing that “Last year Mexico had more Startup Weekend events than any country other than the United States. Great companies don’t come from Startup Weekend but it’s a great educational opportunity and I think this is a good indicator of how the level of enthusiasm for technology entrepreneurship is growing.”
Q2: “What’s the future for the Mexican Startup Environment?”
The most popular answer notes that “Mexico is attracting the attention of reputable Silicon Valley investors and funds. Evidence of this was Dave McClure and his partners at 500 Startups agreeing to team up with MexicanVC (The Discovery Fund for Mexican Startups)” and that “MexicanVC evolved from an ambitious idea to a fully functional discovery and investment fund for the most promising startups and entrepreneurial talent in Mexico, in just a few months. They are already finding, nurturing and graduating startups with real potential into the marketplace.”
Some other good Q&As on the topic that are worth exploring:
What are the coolest startups in Mexico?
What venture capital / Angel investor firms exist in Mexico?
What are the active startup meetups in Mexico City?