(TechCrunch) It doesn’t take an advanced finance degree to understand why Mexico is projected–by Goldman Sachs, among others–to represent the world’s fifth largest economy by 2050.
The most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, Mexico has booming ports on both oceans, abundant natural resources, a longstanding, well-developed industrial sector, close business ties to the United States, and easy access to the burgeoning US Latino population (with their soon-to-be $1.5 trillion in buying power).
But one thing that tends to get lost in this predictive calculus is that, even after just a few years of gestation, Mexico already boasts one of the more dynamic startup scenes in Latin America.
If Mexico is indeed moving beyond the maquiladora manufacturers and their 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.
Startup Origin Story
In 2006, some 50 individuals were selected by TechBA, an international business development program birthed out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to make the 2,000-mile trip from Mexico to Silicon Valley and learn about startup entrepreneurship at its global proving grounds.
The result of this early cultural interchange was the Super Happy Dev House movement in Mexico City, which, despite the silly name, helped lay the groundwork for almost a decade of precipitous domestic growth in Mexico.
Following 2008’s Mexico Web 2.0 conference and the emergence of the new “Tequila Valley” movement, two of the first TechBA participants, Santiago Zavala and Cesar Salazar, who started the Super Happy Dev House, partnered with Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Weekly to found the Mexican.VC accelerator. It was an early attempt to address the nascent startup scene’s lack of funding.
Mexican.VC was eventually acquired by 500 Startups in 2012, and remains a fixture in country’s startup scene to this day. In the meantime, the fund played an important role, alongside the venture capital firm Alta Ventures in financing Mexico’s first batch of serious startups.