Over the past five years, Mexico has been booming. More than $1 billion in venture capital investments in 2015 alone have made it one of the fastest growing tech hubs in Latin America.
Wonder why? It doesn’t hurt that Mexico is one of the world’s largest economies, one that economists see as breaking into the top 10 in the next several years. It also has a youthful population (half of which are under 27) and a university system producing more than 130,000 engineers every year.
Although headlines might wonder whether Mexico City is the region’s next Silicon Valley, the story is more complicated than that. The country, well known for its superb cuisine, sandy beaches, and fascinating tourist destinations, has a deep connection to its culture. And that’s one of the big reasons the startups here are so successful.
Here are three of the key ingredients of Mexico’s success:
Mexico values its traditions
Mexico’s position as one of the hottest economies in the region means entrepreneurs have access to global networks. But at the same time many of them are forging meaningful relationships with local and indigenous groups representative of the Mexican heritage.
One great example of this is Someone Somewhere, a social enterprise that has been working for four years with indigenous communities to help bring their embroidered clothing and accessories to eager buyers around the world. Its Kickstarter campaign easily blew past its initial goal of $30,000.
One of the most exciting projects is All City Canvas, inspired by the Mexican muralist tradition. Showcasing the work of Mexican artists, it’s well known for creating some of the most amazing street-art murals around the world.
The number of startups in Mexico City has grown exponentially in the last several years, and is transforming neighborhoods like Roma, Condesa, and Polanco.
This ecosystem is supporting success stories such as Kueski, the leading micro-lending service in Latin America. It just raised $35 million from top venture capitalists in Mexico and the U.S.
The Mexican entrepreneurship and innovation movement is unstoppable because it comes from the bottom up, beginning in local communities rather than in a boardroom.
One of my favorites examples of community is Dev.F., Mexico’s first hacker school that gives students access to the world of software development. Another great example of community building is Up LatAm, which hosts the largest Startup Weekend outside of the U.S. And don’t forget FuckUp Nights, a Mexico-made event series that lets entrepreneurs share their failure stories. Over the last three years it has expanded into 53 countries, making it one of the startup community’s biggest success stories.
WeWork is excited to be launching in Mexico City in the coming months. We’re looking forward to collaborate with all the innovators that are making the country’s capital city an exciting place to work.
Photo: Faridh Mendoza