The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Mexico Catches the Start-Up Bug

The words “start-up culture” generally conjure images of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Area. But a thousand miles to the south, in Mexico, there is a nascent start-up culture too. Ambitious young Mexicans concerned about the state of their country are turning to business rather than politics as a way to change their society. BBC News has more:

When Jorge Tellez left his native city of Monterrey, it was a good place to live. After six years in the US, he returned to Mexico in 2010. By then, the country’s drug violence had brought about dramatic changes.

Nonetheless, Mr Tellez decided it was his duty to return. As an international development worker, he had seen how Mexico’s growing volatility had led to a brain drain – and he resolved to help reverse it.

“If we are to become leaders, what kind of example are we giving other people by leaving and letting everyone deal with that mess?” he asks.

His own way of leading by example was to set up Menthora, an online community that offers a question-and-answer forum for technology users.

And Tellez is not alone. Similar initiatives are beginning to pop up across the country:

A number of venture capital funds have been making their presence felt in Mexico, including Mexican VC, Alta Ventures and Angel Ventures Mexico.

Cesar Salazar, a serial entrepreneur, founded Mexican VC in April 2011 as a way of funding and mentoring Mexican start-ups, after experiencing frustration in finding seed funding for his own ventures.

Many signals are pointing up for Mexico: the economy is growing, unemployment is declining, there is a manufacturing boom, and the country as a whole is transitioning to a middle-class society. Drug violence is still a serious problem, of course, but behind the grim headlines, things are looking up.

The U.S. can learn from this. The decline of blue model employers means that large, established organizations with lifetime, predictable careers are becoming less of a factor in employment. Americans, especially in the younger generation, need to become entrepreneurs. Giving young people the skills necessary to recognize and take advantage of unconventional opportunities is perhaps the greatest challenge ahead for America’s educational system, and very little has been done to address it.

Published on November 26, 2012 12:10 pm