Eugenio Perea is a Mexican entrepreneur, investor, and company builder, and Magma Partners’ newest Venture Partner. Based in Mexico City, his career path has crisscrossed the Mexican ecosystem, consistently returning to the idea that businesses can improve society by creating excellent products that directly solve their customers’ problems. This thesis led Eugenio from his first corporate jobs to his first companies, and finally as entrepreneur in residence at VC firm ALLVP, where he learned the ins and outs of startups. Despite initially planning to become a “soldier in the corporate world,” Eugenio has been a key actor in building out Mexico’s ecosystem over the past decade.
I sat down with Eugenio on this episode of Crossing Borders to discuss what he learned while starting his own companies, how entrepreneurship is changing Mexico, and how the local ecosystem has changed over the past decade. We also talk about why international VCs should look at the Mexican market and Eugenio’s hopes for Mexico’s future. Check out the rest of this podcast to hear Eugenio’s story from studying chemical engineering to being a key figure in the Mexican startup ecosystem and joining us as our Magma Partners team member in Mexico.
Marcus Dantus launched his first tech startup in 1993, selling email addresses through a portal that he hosted on the domain Mexico.com. Born in Mexico City, Marcus studied Media Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, but his career quickly switched to technology when a friend introduced him to the Internet. Since then, Marcus never looked back. He founded a telecommunications company, acted as CEO of a medical device business, was on the founding team of Wayra Mexico, and finally developed and launched Startup Mexico, where he acts as CEO.
Note: A version of this post appeared as a column in Spanish in Chile’s El Mercurio with the title Emprendedores chilenos: Pierdan el miedo a EE.UU. Although this post focuses on Chilean entrepreneurs, it can also apply to other Latin American entrepreneurs. From what I’ve seen, Mexican entrepreneurs are the least scared of the US market, followed by Argentinians, Colombians, then Chileans, who generally think they don’t have much of a shot at competing in the US. This mindset is slowly changing and this article’s goal is to push it along faster.
A few weeks ago, COPEC, a Chilean convenience store and gasoline service station chain, acquired Delek, a US convenience store and gas station chain with 348 US locations for $535MM. COPEC has operations in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama, but this is their first foray into the US market. It’s an important step for Chile because it shows that both big companies and startups alike shouldn’t be scared of the US market. In fact, they should view the US market as a big opportunity to expand outside of their home markets.
For way too long, when Chilean companies large and small have wanted to expand out of Chile, they’d look at Peru, Colombia and maybe Mexico. But we’re recently seeing a big change, both by startups and by big companies like COPEC.
One of a founder’s most important duties is Identifying and recruiting top talent. Finding and convincing the best people to work for your startup can be the difference between success and failure. There are hundreds of great resources on how to find great talent in the US, but Latin America is very different. US strategies don’t usually work in Latin America.
Recruiting for startups in the US is difficult because the market is extremely competitive and well developed. But it can be easier because many people want to work at a startup because “startups are cool.” Sometimes they even pay well.
Many US workers choose a mission driven company that aims to change the world, or a company that offers workers the opportunity to work on interesting problems, rather than the company that pays the most or has the highest brand recognition. Additionally, structural advantages like recruiters and well developed stock options plans showcase startup opportunities and push more people to take a risk with a startup.
In Latin America, it’s different. It can be difficult to recruit for startups, but not because of competition from other startups. (more…)