Conference Report

Admittedly, Tech Mex (#TechMex to the Twitter generation) isn’t Tex Mex, however, as reported by Juan Martínez del Campo von Bertrab, Tech Mex 2013 was as compelling as Tex Mex is spicy. Many business connections were made on 21 May and now that we’ve let the cat out of the bag, UK-based interest in the growing culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation in Mexico will only grow. As, we trust, will bilateral trade between the UK and Mexico.

I met Juan last year following his graduation from Queen Mary, University of London when he joined the London office of Mexico’s Nader, Hayaux & Goebel where he practises law as an Associate. Juan was a constant and valued member of the Tech Mex 2013 Organising Committee so I asked him to provide this post. Gracias Juan! – Steven Leof.

On Tuesday May 21 at 9:00 in the heart of The City of London at DAC Beachcroft’s offices, after a long wait, hard work and many caffeine crammed early morning meetings of the organizing committee, Tech Mex 2013 or should I say #TechMex 2013 was underway.

As the first of the 90 delegates who attended Tech Mex trickled into the filling the auditorium, Judith Macgregor, British Ambassador to Mexico, gave the introductory remarks on the event and talked about her contentment about being in Mexico and the strides taken forward by the country.

Following Ambassador Macgregor’s opening remarks, the first Keynote Speaker, Nicolás Guzmán, CEO of McCann Mexico started his presentation in which he spoke on the encouraging forecasts on the Mexican economy for the next years. In his speech Nicolás gave hard facts on Mexico as well as current news and information which will certainly shape the coming years such as the Pacto por México, which paired together with his opinion on same and a passionate execution thereof, made it extremely interesting to the delegates.

It is worth noting that there were screens at the auditorium showing a live Twitter feed which cascaded tweets with the #TechMex trending topic from the delegates, giving a very lively interaction to the event. Not only was Tech Mex being reported live to the tweet-universe but many discussions amongst the delegates started which made it even livelier. Two Samsung Galaxy tablets were up for grabs amongst the delegates for the two people who tweeted using #TechMex the most times.

Nicolás’ presentation paved the way for a panel discussion moderated by Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter on the Business Case and Tech Opportunities in Mexico. The panelists were Jimmy Desai, partner at DAC Beachcroft, Luis Felipe Muñoz, Senior International Tax Manager from PwC and Andreu Tobella, Director and Co-founder of Clicab. The composition of this panel was quite illustrative as the first two (lawyers and accountants) are crucial advisors on setting up businesses and Clicab is the successful end product, like many other startups, of the fertile business conditions in Mexico. Following their delivery, the panelists were quite literally bombarded with questions from the audience, as if matters weren’t interesting enough…!

After an intense, hard fought first half from all sides involved, the half-time networking lunch featured delicious Mexican nibbles provided by Lupita Restaurant which gave the opportunity to speakers and audience to share their views on the event.

The second half kicked-off at full speed with Marcus Dantus, Director of WAYRA Mexico informing the audience of the new rising wave of tech-entrepreneurs in Mexico who are benefiting from the healthy environment in the country to start their ventures, giving the examples of some of the innovative companies and entrepreneurs with whom he has worked with, which are living proof of what can today be done in Mexico. Marcus’ speech explained on how he has advised entrepreneurs with their ventures, ideas and how to establish their business, emphasizing that “a good entrepreneur with a bad idea is better than a bad entrepreneur with a good idea”. He also emphasized that there is no straightforward way to success “entrepreneurship is an art, not a science”.

Once again, the delegates mercilessly bombarded the speaker with numerous noteworthy questions regarding competition, market valuation with innovative business ideas (a tricky one) until the appointed time was sadly over, to make way for the round table discussion on the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Mexico moderated by Rodrigo Delgado, Editor/Economist Latin America, Economist Intelligence Unit, Ana Sofía Álvarez, CEO Bandtastic (UKTI LONDONTECH Competition Winner), Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates and Fernando Valenzuela, CEO, Cengage Learning. All panelists are fully immersed in the entrepreneurial sector and they shared their views of the areas of challenges and opportunities currently faced in Mexico. Several interesting topics were covered such as answering whether Mexico would be the player it is because of its geographical location (i.e. bordering the USA) or are its intrinsic values the key factor. Also, the importance of harnessing and exploiting the talent and the considerable number of engineers coming out of Mexican universities is an advantage Mexico has which should not be squandered.

Finally, the Mexican Ambassador to the UK, Alejandro Estivill made a presentation on the Mexican version of the London Tech City, Ciudad Creativa Digital in Guadalajara, Jalisco. The project is set to cost $5 billion USD and is a very exciting prospect which will no doubt serve as a source of infection for creativity and innovation and that may bring Mexico’s Tech Sector closer to the world and London in particular.