The future of work is a hot topic these days. Technology is developing quickly, disrupting how, where, and when people work. Many worry about the loss of jobs as a result of AI and robotics, while others celebrate the potential for increased flexibility and collaboration across time zones and cultures.
These changes in the workplace are taking several forms. One is the shift towards the gig economy, where workers act as free agents in contracted positions, often working multiple jobs simultaneously. Freelancers now make up 36% of the working US population, and were the fastest-growing group in the EU labor market between 2000 and 2014. In Latin America, technology is the key to increasing Latin America’s employment and productivity rates, and startups are at the heart of this change in the region’s workplace.
Below are a few areas of disruptive change in the Latin American workplace, and the entrepreneurs at the forefront of that change.
Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed nearly 100 entrepreneurs on my podcast Crossing Borders about their experiences doing business in and across Latin America.
I always ask them to offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, and one topic that comes up often is how they create a team that drives their companies to succeed. It takes time and effort to find the right people who fit your company culture and can meet a startup’s needs.
So I decided to round up the best advice on finding, building, and maintaining a successful startup team from these entrepreneurs. Check out their advice below.
1. Hire people who fit your company culture
Komal Dadlani, the founder of Chilean science education startup Lab4U, says that when they were starting out they made the mistake of hiring “senior executives” that were not ready to sell a scrappy startup product. As a result, she found herself handling most of the sales, and paying a high price for experienced workers who weren’t meeting the company’s needs and weren’t a great fit for the company culture.
Instead, she advises not to be dazzled by years of experience. In an early-stage startup with a small team, every person needs to pull their weight. It’s important to look for people who are a good cultural fit, and who are willing to do any task – big or small – to get the job done.
1.4 million cars joined the roads in Latin America in the first quarter of 2018. In a region that struggles with automobile safety, the increase of motor vehicles on the road raises challenges for policymakers, auto manufacturers, and citizens. Over 115,000 people die every year from car accidents in Latin America. In 2000, 26.2 people per 100,000 died in car accidents and that number is expected to rise to 31 car-related deaths for every 100,000 people by 2020. In the US, the rate of accident deaths hovers around 11.4 per 100,000 people.
Managing Latin America’s growing automobile fleet is one of the most significant challenges that startups and governments will need to tackle as cities swell. Latin America is home to many auto producers, so manufacturers will also need to pay attention to new technology to stay competitive.
Opportunities in autotech in Latin America
Worldwide, startups and giant tech companies are tackling the conventional auto industry with solutions that include self-driving vehicles, electric cars, pay-per-mile insurance, and car-shares. Latin America is experiencing a wave of autotech startup launches, including a few that raised notable international investment rounds.
Much of this innovation remains concentrated in Latin America’s two largest markets: Brazil and Mexico. This disparity makes sense as 70% of vehicles on the road in Latin America are in these two countries. In Brazil, there is approximately one car per four inhabitants, while in Mexico, the ratio is one in three. Argentina, Colombia, and Chile trail far behind in quantity of vehicles but maintain similar ratios.
With startup hubs across Latin America vying to become the next Silicon Valley, Mexico may be ahead of the game, and carving out its own niche south of the border. In 2015, TechCrunch published an article that argued that Mexico’s transition over to the innovation economy might just turn it into one of the world’s biggest economies in the next decade. Bismarck Lepe, a Mexican-American entrepreneur who pioneered Mexico-Silicon Valley cross border companies with Ooyala and now Wizeline, contends that Mexico is one of, if not the most interesting country in the world over the next decade.
Mexico’s unique geographic and cultural positioning allows it to capture both the US and the Latin American markets, while its size and natural resources allow it to compete with South American giants like Brazil.
Three major cities in Mexico – Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara – are at the forefront of the innovative movement and each city is contributing intensely to the growth of the startup ecosystem in Mexico.
While Mexico City is the most powerful due to its size and the availability of private and federal capital, Guadalajara and Monterrey are important second cities that are vying for technology and startup leadership. Here’s a deeper look at the startup ecosystems in each of these Mexican cities. (more…)