2011 is about to end, it’s time to think about everything we did this year, to make these assessments on our performance, our actions, the projects we started or what we learned from those we had to let go.
In PulsoSocial we are interested about what happened this 2011 with startups, investors, and projects that in this 2012 will be continued and how they are gonna make it.
I had the opportunity to interview César Salazar who is part of Mexican VC team, first seed capital fund of Silicon Valley for Mexico, -whose first call was made last May when they announced the opening of a fund of $ 2 million dollars- and we talked about what 2011 represented for the company, besides being contributing to the strengthening of this ecosystem, they hope that 2012 will be even more productive.
AX: What did Mexican VC learn from mexican projects this 2011?
Cesar Salazar: The first thing we found is that there are far more projects than we expected. In less than 4 months, nearly 120 projects were evaluated.
However, despite the volume, there is still missing that entrepreneurs decide to attempt to solve major problems for large numbers of customers, that is to say, have a greater vision for the business. We believe that in part, this is due to prior lack of capital, and this situation will change quickly in the future.
AX: How many and which projects were accepted in 2011 to get seed fund from Mexican VC?
CS: We invested in 7 projects in various regions of the country. Companies are Yogome, Callpicker, La Comanda, ClasesD, Conekta, Pikhub and NuFlick.
Are all types of online startups, from educational games to business analysis solutions, to film distribution and mobile discounts. They are taking advantage of the latest models of distribution and deployment. Four of them have a mobile expression of their service and all its data services are being hosted in the cloud.
AX: What were the projects that you feel almost a part of them (either because you are so close to the entrepreneurs or their ideas similar to those you’ve ever had)?
CS: With all the founders I feel identified one way or another. I think part of the process of choosing with whom to invest, is to share a set of principles and values. A common component in all the founders is that they have a greater passion to create value in the environment than become rich and that is something I identify with.
About products, perhaps ClasesD and Pikhub are more related to me; I’m a curious person who always wants to learn new things, and I think ClasesD allow me to learn a lot and meet interesting people in the process. For Pikhub, what I love is that it is linked to my main hobby which is photography. I think the best photo-sharing applications are yet to come and see in Pikhub a great opportunity.
AX: How difficult is the selection of a project?
CS: All projects are complicated. There are no perfect products, markets or entrepreneurs. We must learn to identify what deficiencies are fundamental and which are weaknesses that can work. Fortunately, in perspective we are very pleased with the people we choose to believe in, this first occasion.
AX: Which would be the most important factor to consider investing on a project?
CS: I think every good investor that invests in early stage of a company will say that the most important is the team and could not agree more. When a company enters the market, plans are confronted by the reality and that is where it shows what an entrepreneur is made of.
The best entrepreneurs, from my point of view, are those who give more importance to implementing the ideas. They are also people who adapt to the emotional cycles of trying difficult things. Entrepreneurship is a long hard road filled with strong emotions. We look for people with a strong passion for solving a problem and with the practical skills to do so efficiently. If you lack this, you can put in great risk the success of the project.
AX: What goals have been drawn in 2012 as a company?
CS: We would like to continue to invest in more startups. We believe that by 2012, we could invest in 20 of them. On the other hand, we still have to prove that we can get companies already invested in, are able to generate revenue and continue raising investment. Not all of them are going to achieve, but we hope that they do continue to move steadily.
Another major objective is to have a physical space that works as a permanent home for startups in which we invest. That’s the reason why we are involved in creating BetaDF.
AX: Do you see an accelerated growth of startups in our country compared to last year?
CS: Absolutely. I think the growth in Internet penetration in Mexico, especially through the adoption of mobile devices, opens a number of opportunities never before seen in the country. This is combined with the emergence of more and better offers of funding and mentoring. I think everyday feels more real that we have an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and 2012 will be a great year to test whether this is true.
Mexican VC is betting -hard- on an industry that is usually not taken into account by the venture capitalists in our country, and also allows Mexican entrepreneurs to continue working in their country, without leaving to pursue their dreams in other nations where the culture of entrepreneurship and technological startups is seen from another perspective.
And we hope that 2012 be a year of growth, not only for Mexican VC, but for all the companies and people who are doing something to create change, because to do so, we all have to get down to work.