Julia Romero received the setback of her life when she was about to launch her company. A person she trusted a lot told her that her project had no future. It was not only the rejection in her search for investment that affected her but also the lack of moral support. She was in the final semesters of a biotechnology degree.
“People didn’t believe in me at first,” she told Tec Review. “When I started Sali-bar, I was a Tec de Monterrey student who had no experience of being a businesswoman,” she recalls.
During the following months, many people close to her declined to invest in her project. Later, Romero and her team achieved recognition both nationally and in her native Chihuahua. The contests she entered attracted investors.
Today, Sali-bar, a method for early detection of bovine pregnancy, has livestock customers interested in her product in Mexico and Latin America.
A youthful spirit is the strength that is needed to start a new business. And young Mexicans are an example of this. In Mexico, around 45% of the population between 18 and 64 years old have started a business in the last two years, according to the Global Entrepreneurship 2019-2020 report.
“The art of being an entrepreneur is to maintain unwavering optimism while facing reality and resolving day-to-day battles,” says Fernando Lelo de Larrea, partner at ALLVP, a financing fund.
Lack of contacts
Entrepreneurship in the middle of a pandemic can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. This was demonstrated by Santiago Hernández, a Mexican at Stanford, and other Mexicans and Peruvians who met this year. A contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) put them in touch and they decided to start a business together.
These young people, still students in the first semesters of their respective degrees, created a chatbot to prevent hoax calls about Covid-19 cases. By verifying the Mexican identification number (CURP) or national identity document (DNI) in Peru, these young people can prevent health systems from wasting resources.
However, to continue the project, they need the authorities to endorse their work. “My partner, Jorge Armenta, is in charge of associations, non-profit organizations, and foundations that are dealing with the issue of Covid-19. We’re trying to reach the Ministry of Health to see how we can support them with all the talent and resources that we have here,” he says by phone from Palo Alto, California.
Change the strategy
The pandemic has not just provided an opportunity for new ideas to start a business, but it has also given entrepreneurs the chance to turn around the business that they already have. At just 24 years old, Eduardo Centeno and Everhard Ortega started the data analysis company Vincom.
They were barely a few months out of their business engineering and information technology degree when they became entrepreneurs. The graduates of the San Luis Potosí Campus of Tec de Monterrey had retailers among their main clients. But with the closure of stores due to the pandemic, their services were no longer in demand.
From providing analytics on sales, today they also have a platform to verify whether a company meets the requirements to operate in the new normal. And they are barely 26 years old.
“Companies are applying austerity measures and don’t have enough resources to invest large amounts in new projects. We created software as a service with all the information related to compliance with the new normal at an affordable cost,” says Ortega.
Paola Hernández is a student at Tec de Monterrey and co-founder of PYMO, a social impact startup. Their work consists of seeking donations to purchase necessary medical equipment during the pandemic. With this platform, you connect donors with the people in need.
“The main challenge is to be taken seriously. You go to meetings, and in some places being young and someone who’s just starting out means they don’t take you seriously. They think it’s just an idea or that you’re not going to work hard enough to carry out your project,” she says.
PYMO is a team of women that has also experienced discrimination. “They think you’re a girl with good intentions rather than a business model,” she laments. However, the young women have managed to raise 506,700 pesos for this initiative. These resources are for the first order of medical supplies that will be taken to hospitals in the health sector.