Start up Accelerator Plug and Play Changes Course
Plug and Play Tech Center aims to provide a soft-landing platform for Mexico-based high-tech startups interested in accessing Silicon Valley. The Plug and Play Tech Accelerator Program provides avenues for Mexican high-tech startups to access resources of Silicon Valley. Selected companies are sponsored to join Plug and Play’s comprehensive 3-month startup acceleration program, where they have access to investors, corporations, mentors within the Plug and Play network, exposure at events, regular educational seminars and workshops and office space.
Plug and Play Mexico Accelerator Program is a subsidiary of Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, a global accelerator that specializes in growing tech startups. Plug and Play’s network includes over 300 tech startups, 180 investors and a community of leading Universities and Corporate partners.
EMSNOW recently spoke with Alejandro Cobos, Director of Plug and Play, Mexico, about some recent changes in the company’s focus. Plug and Play’s Mexico program launched in 2017; the company started strong, sponsoring 50 companies a year; 80% of those were in software, while 20% were hardware projects. According to Cobos, the investment environment recently has been challenged at the mid-stage level, i.e. US$300k and above. The early stage investment environment is still strong, i.e. US$25k/in exchange for 5% ownership in the startup. There is opportunity for startups in other Latin American countries to find a market in Mexico, but the startup culture in Mexico itself has experienced some slacking off.
Plug and Play has begun a process of reorganization to better serve the unique environment in Mexico. “We are reorganizing the way we work with startups and the investment community,” Cobos explained. “Rather than working with the fintechs or banks, we are going directly to the corporations themselves for funding. We are looking for corporations developing products in Smart Cities, mobility, and other cross verticals to find sponsorships to support the start up community. We believe corporations are looking for innovation and they can acquire that through engaging with the startup community directly, enabling them to move faster than their competitors in these very fast moving industries.
“Mexico, and especially Guadalajara, has a strong ecosystem of engineers, and the companies there encourage their employees to innovate,” he continued. “Companies like Continental Tires have numerous patents, and internal engineering talent. They can quickly benefit from engaging with startups directly.”
The academic community is a rich resource for innovation in Mexico, but the projects developed in the universities are often not ready for investment. Rather, startup incubators like Plug and Play organize business plan competitions, demo days and other outreach activities at the business and engineering schools to enable the entrepreneurs to gain invaluable feedback to fine tune their ideas.
Alex Cobos is a native of Mexico City, manages operations at Plug and Play Tech Center in Mexico City, works both with global tech startups and organizations, both public and private, to connect their technology and entrepreneurship ecosystems to Silicon Valley. Alex is based in Mexico City and aims to enable Mexican entrepreneurs to access the various resources of Silicon Valley in order to accelerate and validate their business models.