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By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern
In the ever-continuing search to find the newest markets and unrealized investment opportunities around the world, U.S. venture capitalists have recently intensified their interest in Mexico. With a newfound attention brought upon by three events–Geeks on a Plane, an Endeavor Mexico CEO Summit, and Startup Weekend — the country is looking more and more like the latest hotbed of entrepreneurial talent.
Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is a collection of 50 executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who travel across the world to the biggest tech startup cities “with the sole mission of uniting geeks and exploring cross-border tech opportunities,” according to its website. Founded by Dave McClure, the self-proclaimed “Sith Lord” for business-accelerating investment fund 500 Startups, with help from Endeavor Entrepreneur and Global Board member Wences Casares, GOAP leads discussions about tech innovation. A subset of 500 Startups, GOAP has already completed nine trips in three years and is touring Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2012. This is the third stop in Mexico City for GOAP, but this year other Mexican localities also organized smaller events, along with tours of local cities headed by local tech startups.
“Our fundamental mission, besides having fun, is getting to know all the human potential, evaluate the business environment and explore the possibility to start investing in a good pace in their start-ups,” said McClure. “To establish cultural comparisons that help us understand the differences between markets, their priorities and needs, and of course, to get in touch with all the human potential from the cities we’ll visit, beyond the figures, that in any case look very promising.”
The Geeks on a Plane participated in Startup Weekend while in Mexico City, where they networked with and advised entrepreneurs to learn more about the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and how they can help it expand moving forward. At Startup Weekend, participants worked to build entire businesses in just 54 hours. They brought ideas to the table about new business plans, teamed up to collaborate on the most viable projects, develop the ideas, and were judged on the products of their labor. Endeavor’s own Allen Taylor was joined by McClure and Bedy Yang from 500 Startups, Hernán Fernández from Angel Ventures Mexico, David Weekly from MexicanVC, and Adriana Tortajada from NAFIN as investor judges.
The final event was the CEO Summit, entitled “Speed of Light Growth,” a stepping stone for entrepreneurs to catapult their companies to the next level. Over 180 entrepreneurs met with investors and business leaders to network and discuss business strategies over breakfast before attending a series of success story presentations and keynote speakers. Four representatives from the Endeavor Investor Network took part in the event—Eliza Erikson (Omidyar Network), Luis Trevino (Beamonte Investments), Jaime Sanchez Cortina (Sun Mountain Capital), and Felipe Ortiz (Aureos)—as well as business coach and author John Hamm, venture capitalist Joanna Rees, and veteran entrepreneur Juan Pablo Cappello, all Endeavor Global affiliates.
According to Pilar Aguilar, CEO of Endeavor Mexico, “The CEO Summit is Endeavor Mexico’s most important event, in terms of content, for entrepreneurs. We believe that entrepreneurs are the country’s engine of economic development, so this effort to bring together such important businesses and organizations benefits Mexico.”
Having the country experience these three events within just one week is a great step in the right direction for the Mexican and overall Latin American markets, and there is sure to be more attention paid by venture capitalists, business leaders, and techie geeks in the near future.
Bloomberg Businessweek article on McClure and the events
Interview with McClure
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