Emerging Mexican technology businesses should take a very close look at the TechBA Program, a business incubator funded by the Secretary of the Economy of Mexico and operated by the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science (Fundacion Mexico Estados Unidos para la Ciencia – FUMEC). In my own city of Austin, Texas, TechBA is operated in conjunction with the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), which in turn is part of the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, but there are also TechBa Programs in Madrid, Montreal and Silicon Valley.
TechBA is akin to a government-funded venture (not vulture) capital firm that provides money, office space, and consulting services to Mexican businesses seeking to bring their technology-related products and/or services to global markets, all in an effort to boost Mexican exports. Now that is a great idea.
Sara Van Zee is the director of the TechBA Austin and she and her team do a wonderful job. I am generally impressed with the entire TechBA concept, but two aspects of the Program strike me as very significant: (1) it requires Mexican businesses to physically move a portion of their operations to Austin so they develop a clear understanding of the U.S. market; and (2) it encourages Mexican businesses (that have the resources) to hire at least one high level person who is a U.S. citizen, who will share U.S. business knowledge with Mexican co-workers (this is the same advice we give to U.S. companies expanding into Mexico in relation to the hiring of Mexican citizens). These two elements -maintaining a physical presence in the local market and hiring at least one high-level local employee who share local knowledge – seem essential for the success of almost any business seeking to expand into international markets.
Emerging Mexican technology companies interested in participating in the Austin program should contact Sara Van Zee or Luis Medina for more information and an application. Sixteen Mexican businesses are in residence at the TechBa Austin facility at one time; each company participates in the program for 12 months, and new companies enter the program as space becomes available. Several companies have successfully graduated from the TechBA Program.