A job referral site, a digital publisher and a business process outsourcing and software company were among the five Mexican firms which went on to seek venture capital funding after a month-long “Build or Die” Boot Camp held by TechBA – Silicon Valley.
rewards.to, in Chihuahua, co-founded by David Andujo, Chief Marketing Officer Lucy Kohler and CTO Hector Correa, who is also co-owner of
Orinoco Systems, a Nearshore IT consulting company with Fortune 500 clients. Andujo described rewards.to as a “social recruiting platform” that recommends “which of your friends are potential candidates for jobs from companies” offering referral rewards. The platform checks the key words in a job description against the profiles in your networks and alerts you about matches.” The network, which will focus first on IT jobs, will give 80% of the reward budget to the referring person, keep 10% and give the other 10% to the new employee.
“At the end of the boot camp we were evaluated by three venture capitalists and were selected to have a private booth at TiEcon for two days. We had great feedback from potential users and the recruitment industry.” Andujo said. Final funding decisions are pending.
Folgom, says founder Rodrigo Padilla, is a Guadalajara-based social network that helps small business owners find customers and suppliers. Questions from potential investors helped him focus his thinking by forcing him to, for example, consider whether the lifetime value of a user is worth the expense of capturing them. Folgom is talking to a Mexican VC group and angel investors. “It takes about six months to get an answer from investors,” he said, who are waiting to see the startup reach more milestones.
Ilibris, in Mexico City, is a digital publishing company that helps traditional publishers market and distribute ebooks for multiple platforms, said founder Ana Pulido Ferrer. This differentiates the ilibris model from that used in standard
ebook readers like the Kindle. “The boot camp was a great experience because you always think you are always doing things right,” he said. “When you get there things are moving so fast. You don’t need a lot of money to launch an idea. In Mexico you need to the money then you show the product.”
Pulido Ferrer was excited that “ilibris changed a lot during the boot camp,” moving from only providing services to integrating with social networks to include feedback from users and publishers.
Solutrust, in Chapultepec, provides accounting and legal services as well as software for trust departments in financial institutions, says founder José Akle. “We are a very diverse team of attorneys, accountants, managers and software developers. We have been operating for four years and are profitable.”
Akle appreciated the chance to practice and fine-tune his presentation. “The investors asked very interesting questions and gave me great feedback on alternative approaches I could take.”
“We needed to test and really accomplish what we were looking for. They were surprised that they could get results in a short period of time. We give them a month to develop further, and then will work with them again in July,” said Jorge Zavala, Director of TechBA – Silicon Valley, which is sponsored by the Mexican Ministry of Economy and the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science.
The start up weekend is now being replicated in different Mexican cities, and Zavala would like to see it occur worldwide. TechBA will provide a development facility in Silicon Valley for a year for developers from the first camp who wish to continue. A second boot camp is scheduled for September 2011.