SAPVoice: How Mexico City Became A Hotbed For Startups (Forbes)

On the corner of corner of Moneda and Licenciado Primo Verdad streets in Mexico City sits the first printing press in the Americas, established in 1539. Not far from that historic site of innovation is the Zona Rosa, one of many neighborhoods in the city center known for its trendy restaurants and bars – and increasingly – a lively startup community.

That’s near where WeWork is located, a shared workspace that many young entrepreneurs call home. Based in the Bay Area with offices all over the world, the Mexico City outpost looked like any Silicon Valley shared workspace with its casually hip young crowd, micro-roasted coffee and micro-brewed beer on tap — and even a few dogs.

It also turned out to be the perfect locale for a recent innovation event hosted by SAP and Endeavor, where a panel of young startup leaders discussed how their companies are using technology to digitally disrupt everything in Mexico; from the mid-range furniture market to domestic cleaning services.

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The Angel of Independence in Mexico City, Mexico.

Hassan Yasine is a co-founder of GAIA Design, an online furniture startup that brings affordable contemporary design to the rising middle class in Mexico. His award-winning e-commerce business is helping to digitize Mexico’s $77 billion furniture retail industry.

“Technology is an incredible enabler but sometimes it goes too far, and customers get treated like numbers,” said Hassan.  ”Although furniture is a very physical business, we’re using technology to bring us closer to customers and into their homes virtually.”

GAIA plans to launch an augmented reality mobile app that helps people contextualize furniture in their own home.

Smart Kids, Smart Government, Smart Cash

One of the areas leading universities, Tecnológico de Monterrey, is not just giving people an education in the latest technology, it’s also asking everyone to be an entrepreneur.

Every year the Tecnologico de Monterrey, known as the TEC, graduates thousands of students, well-prepared and eager to put their skills to work. Some estimate that Mexico graduates 118,000 students yearly in engineering alone, all looking forward to joining the country’s middle class (think: future consumers of GAIA).

Government support is another reason startups are flourishing in Mexico, primarily through the creation of INADEM (the National Institute of Entrepreneurs) in 2013. The government has been investing heavily in entrepreneurial sector; and reports that in 2014, it distributed $658 million to an estimated 620,000 entrepreneurs.

Finally, the startup funding and incubator ecosystem is one of the most – if not the most – mature in Latin America. The connection between Silicon Valley and Mexico City investor cash solidified in 2012 when the 500 Startups acquired Mexican.vc, a small VC firm that funded homegrown startups.

Since then the startup community has grown. Mexico City is one of the top 20 cities countries in the world for millionaires. Now some are investing in the tech sector via VC firms, accelerators and incubators like Startup Mexico and Numa.  Says Cesar Salazar, co-founder of Mexican.vc and partner of 500 Startups, “Mexico City is by far the most active and rapidly growing startup hub in the Spanish-speaking world.”

SAP Revs Up Startups in Mexico City

Previta, the first company to join SAP’s Startup Focus Program in Mexico, is committed to “revolutionize” the health system in Mexico and other Latin American countries, by offering services that monitor and control chronic illnesses. Using their “etracker” application, telemedicine, and a network of walk-in clinics, they provide services to insurance and managed care companies, and in turn assist millions of people with the prevention, early detection and treatment of these life-threatening diseases.

Previta received a software donation from SAP to help run its back end. Now they are ready for a more strategic engagement and will deploy SAP HANA through the SAP Startup Program to bring their health platform to the next level – and fight chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and obesity even more effectively.

It’s this kind of partnerships that makes SAP Mexico confident that there’s room for big players and startups to work comfortably together.

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ November 30, 2016 at 06:39AM

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