Entrepreneurs from San Diego and Baja California share their experiences in Tijuana

The second in a series of meetings created to promote the “Start-up” spirit in region

Entrepreneurs from San Diego and Baja California share their experiences in TijuanaJosé Luis Sánchez
José Luis Sánchez

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Being “stubborn”, or in other words “being persistent”, is how you could describe the essence of what it is to be an entrepreneur during the meeting of the group “One Ecosystem Two Cultures”, with the objective being to share successful experiences with the “start-up” model and venture businesses in Mexico and the border region, without forgetting the many difficulties that can get in the way, both economical and cultural.

It was the second meeting of a group that started with only 4 people and the collaborative effort of Origo Ventures, a fund for venture capitalists and Mink Advisors, a law firm that helps entrepreneurs and their needs such as legal assistance for intellectual properties and rights management. Future meetings will be held both in San Diego and Tijuana, with the idea of members considering themselves part of a single bi-national region.

Omar Monroy of Mink, gave the welcoming speech, declaring that the objective of the meeting was “not to be a trampoline so that companies cross the border” but rather having this become an exchange of ideas, and meet people that can work out problems and provide opportunities. “We are here because something drives us” and not just because there is money involved, he said. Gustavo de la Fuente, one of the partners in Origo Ventures, gave a speech as well, inviting everyone to help change the venture capital model in Mexico, which is practically non-existent but an essential part of entrepreneurship.

The meeting, which was held in the new restaurant PIOLA, included three speakers which shared their entrepreneurial success stories, all of them Mexicans, which have managed to use the bi-national region to their advantage, benefiting their company as well as local talent.

The first speaker, described by Monroy as “a person I really admire” because of his work; Ramon Toledo, executive director and founder of BuscaCorp, a Mexican company that was able to make it, but after many different tries. Ramon Toledo also describes himself as someone who is proud of being a Latin American that has faced the obstacles which come from working in the border, and succeeding.

Toledo described the ups and downs his professional career has had, and admits that he never achieved his original goal, which was to be Google's competitor, but he found other markets and other opportunities in which he could succeed, but most of all, he was persistent.

A spirit of persistence in the Mexican entrepreneur “That is what I believe is missing here”, he stated. BuscaCorp went from simply trying to compete with Google, to having the most important Video Game website in Mexico and Latin America, LevelUp, as well as consolidating important alliances with companies like Yahoo!, Sony and Blockbuster Mexico. He also added that a philosophy called “Bootstrapping”, a concept that refers to not overspending immediately after your first success or capital income, is a very common mistake that happens in Silicon Valley among “Start-ups”.

The second speaker confirmed what Ramon Toledo was saying, given that it was Ricardo Arnaiz, Producer of Mexican animated films and his company Animex. He started in the year 2000 with the dream of revitalizing Mexican Animation after so many years of being stagnant, and his professional Odyssey even led him to knocking on doors, literally in the entire country, being visual effects assistant in Andres Bustamante's production Ponchivision, to getting to meet Bruno Bichir and Singer Emanuel, who supported him in his first attempt to make an animated movie, “Maya”, which unfortunately was never released due to creative differences, although it taught him many important lessons.

After years of effort, and more failed attempts and false hopes, he was finally able to distribute his first animated movie, “La Leyenda de la Nahuala”, with a moderate success in the box office (48 million Pesos), and enough drive to produce other animated movies among them was “Nikté” (2009), “La Leyenda de la Llorona” and also coming soon “El Americano” (2014), a film that includes an impressive cast of voice actors from both sides of the border, among them is Lisa Kudrow, Edward James Olmos, Rico Rodrigues, Adal Ramones, and many others.

Arnaiz ended his speech saying he was really stubborn, given that he didn't let his failures dissuade him. Even reading quotes motivated him, “even if it sounds ridiculous”, adding that it's important to change the attitude in Mexico. “If you take for example all the people who have transcended their failures, you realize how much they've actually had to struggle to succeed”.

The last speaker was Luis Pulido, a young man from Tijuana who has helped to create an internet wholesale platform on the internet for Mexico and Latin America, called Central Mayoreo. His most important need is that of funding to be able to compete in the worldwide market, and continue to develop his digital infrastructure.

During the Q&A portion of the presentation, Ramon Toledo warns that one of the main obstacles are people that, although they have good intentions, they tell you “it can't be done”. “A start-ups worst enemies are friends and family” he says.

Omar Monroy closed the presentation announcing that the next event will be held in San Diego, so people “get used to the idea” that it is the same region.

Jose.Sanchez@sandiegored.com

daniel.aguilar@sandiegored.com

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