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Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig


Hello and welcome to Crossing Borders with Nathan Lustig, where I interview entrepreneurs doing startups across borders and the investors who support them, with a focus on companies that have some relationship to Latin America.

Sep 18, 2017

Most people in Silicon Valley would not intuitively think of building startups in Guadalajara, Mexico. But Mak Gutierrez is part of a team working through Hackers and Founders to support and fund startups in one of the most historic cities in Latin America.

In this conversation, Mak and I talk about his background, how Science Fiction has influenced his thinking about the future and the role of tech in the world, and why Guadalajara is one of the best places in Latin America to start a company.

The first time playing multiplayer games over dial-up was an eye-opening moment for Mak Gutierrez.

It’s always fascinating to hear the turning points that start an entrepreneur or tech startup founder in the direction they go. Mak Gutierrez says that he was always interested in the possibilities that could come from computers and technology, but when he played his first game of “Doom” in a multi-player environment via dial-up, his eyes were opened to what technology might be able to do in the future.

We’ve come a very long way from dial-up and Mak says it’s only the beginning. You can hear what he’s doing as part of the Hackers and Founders team to support and encourage the development of companies in Guadalajara, Mexico and how he’s come to believe that smaller tech companies in developing countries will one day be the backbone of their economies.

I think Latin Americans have largely been followers rather than leaders. ~ Mak Gutierrez

During our conversation about Science Fiction and the role it’s played in Mak’s vision of technology and the future, Mak said that he thinks there hasn’t been much Science Fiction to come out of Latin America because the culture has not been focused on producing leaders, people who see a bigger vision of the future than normal.

He’s hoping to change that as he works with Hackers and Founders to not only inspire and encourage innovation and startups in Guadalajara but to cast a wider vision for what could come of Latin American innovation in the global marketplace. You’ll enjoy hearing Mak’s enthusiasm so I hope you will listen.

Why value is not created by polishing, it’s created by producing.

Mak Gutierrez says one of the most valuable lessons he’s learned in building his own companies and in supporting startups in Guadalajara Mexico is that value is not created for the end-user of any product or service by the business waiting to release until things are perfectly polished.

Nobody will be helped until you actually produce something - and whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can hear how Mak suggests startup founders think about the development and release of their products and services, on this episode of Crossing Borders.

Few Latin American startups fail because they lack capital.

In any country, including those in Latin America, there is nothing more important for a startup than to find a need and meet it. And those needs typically come from the local environment and the needs it contains. In Latin America in particular, those needs tend to be fundamentally beneficial to the culture at large and therefore have a transformative impact.

Mak Gutierrez says when he’s helped startups in Guadalajara understand that mindset, they are able to get the funding they need without a problem - because it’s obvious that the company is seeking to meet a need that is in great demand. That’s a winning situation for the startup and for its investors. Mak’s story and insights are so helpful… I hope you take time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:18] Mak’s work in Guadalajara, building the Hackers and Founders team and program.
  • [6:59] How Mak became interested in tech and began learning.
  • [10:12] The role science fiction has played in Mak’s growth and ideas.
  • [17:10] The difference speaking a different language has on your cultural perspective.
  • [23:48] Mak’s steps into coding and building small businesses.
  • [35:10] The support Mak received from family as he built his own businesses.
  • [41:13] Mak’s experience at 500 Startups.
  • [46:36] Changes that have happened in Guadalajara’s business culture in recent years.
  • [50:24] What it’s like to live in Guadalajara.
  • [56:48] Mak’s view on what’s important in building an ecosystem in Latin America.
  • [1:02:50] Why American’s should consider Latin America for startups and investment in startups.
  • [1:06:50] What people tend to misunderstand about Latin America and Guadalajara.
  • [1:12:39] The next steps for Mak and Hackers and Founders.

Resources & People Mentioned

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