Mexico, the second most important market in Latin America, has a certain quién sabe qué. Whether you’re the founder of the next startup unicorn or you’re breaking into the VC world, there are some unwritten rules to follow if you want to look like you fit in. Just as we did for India, Rest of World presents a guide to faking it until you make it as a techie in Mexico.
Show me your neobank game
You can’t be a self-respecting tech enthusiast without carrying a card from Nubank, Albo, Delt.ai, Jefa, Tauros, Oyster, Tribal, Clara, or Rappi. Preferably all of them. Financial inclusion has always been a pain for Mexicans, so much so that fintech startups have become a cornerstone of the country’s tech disruption.
Because of the importance of neobanks in the Mexican tech scene, founders from a range of companies will often sign up to many at a time. Whether they’re doing it to compare their respective UXs or whether they just like getting cash back, being a (literal) card-carrying member of Mexico’s fintech revolution makes you look like you’re a die-hard tech connoisseur.
Subscribe to (very) local newsletters
Mexico is full of tech hubs within tech hubs. The three main ones — Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Mexico City — each play host to a number of sub-hubs: neighborhoods filled with hipster cafés and coworking spaces crowded with global tech heads looking to found the next Kavak. This is both a symbol of Mexico’s tradition of strong community building and its glaring social exclusion — these are particularly high-end neighborhoods, inaccessible to much of the country’s population.
Adding to that sense of exclusivity are the communities inside the communities, the newsletters and chat groups aimed at keeping an eye on what’s going on at a granular and hyper-local level. In Guadalajara, Tech-ila 4.0 puts the local community of entrepreneurs and investors on one WhatsApp chat, while in Monterrey, Whitepaper has become the go-to newsletter that caters to the local business community.
Never show your face at a supermarket again
Lockdowns turned the humble trip to the supermarket into the only opportunity some Mexicans had to venture outside during the darkest days of the pandemic. But rather than put on their finery to turn a supply run into a night out, a true techie would double down on tech.
Ordering groceries online during your five-minute bio break is an incredibly convenient experience. So what if it costs you a rare trip into the outside world? Tweeting about it shows that not only do you believe in The Future of Retail™, you’re also going the extra mile (metaphorically) by serving as an example to lure others to this way of thinking.
Oh, and when you tweet? Extra credit if you tag the platform’s founder.
Refer to yourself as a “dev”
Mexico has some of the best programmers around. That’s not an accident: there are plenty of avenues for education and training. Alongside hosting formal universities like Monterrey’s “El Tec” (formally known as Tecnológico de Monterrey), Mexico is also experiencing a startup-led edtech boom. There are now at least a hundred options to start learning to code, for instance, ranging from in-person options like Ironhack to online alternatives like Platzi, Crehana, and Laboratoria.
But just as wearing a Fitbit doesn’t magically make you lose weight, attending a course doesn’t make you a coder overnight. So if you have to act the part, be sure to brush up on your Spanglish. The dev scene loves tossing around terms like “debuggear.”
(Word to the wise: emprendedurismo, a Hispanicized version of “entrepreneurship,” is frowned upon. The correct term is emprendimiento.)
Fundraising? You might want to take a run …
Mexicans find a particular sort of pleasure in pain — just look at the amount of spice we put on our tacos or on almost any fruit — and many of the country’s techies take their love of treading the roughest path pretty literally.
Founders, investors, and even some of the journalists covering them have taken to hitting the difficult trails on the rugged terrain surrounding Mexico’s tech hubs. Some take the breathless paths among the peaks of la Huasteca on the outskirts of Monterrey, the north’s foremost city. Others will venture to cycle the steep climbs around Los Dinamos, the verdant foothills of the valley that rings Mexico City. But these are more than just Instagram-friendly views. They’re tough bonding sessions, allowing Mexican techies to work on their pitches before a formal meeting.
But if you like your gain without any pain, well, there’s a VC for everybody. If a founder isn’t the type to put on a pair of lycra shorts at 5 a.m., there’s many an angel investor who’ll share in the thick hot chocolate and crispy churros at El Moro. ’Tis the season, after all.