The e-interview: Pepe Villatoro, WeWork Mexico

Pepe Villatoro

LinkedIn: Pepe Villatoro
Twitter: @pepevillatoro

What do you do currently?
I’m the General Manager of WeWork in Mexico. WeWork is a company founded in NYC in 2010 that offers workspace, community and service for creators. As of today the company has more than 110 locations in 29 cities around the world.
I’m a co-founder of FuckUp Nights, where I serve with a role similar to a Board Member. FUN is a global movement to tell stories of business failure powered by an event series that expanded to 160 cities in 56 countries in 4 years.
I’m a partner in Grupo Avanza, a financial services company that gives credit to small businesses in southern Mexico and invests in entrepreneurs.
When I find the time I help create or develop social initiatives such as the Mexican Entrepreneurs Association and Mexican Crowd Funding Association, and I mentor startups in a handful of accelerators.

How and when did you get involved with the Mexican entrepreneurial ecosystem?
I started my career as an entrepreneur in Monterrey and Tuxtla in 2007. I didn’t have any contact with what we call today the entrepreneurial ecosystem until I launched a crowdsourcing platform and print magazine in Mexico City in 2009. There were many successful entrepreneurs across Mexico but they didn’t come together as an ecosystem similar to what we see in innovation hubs around the world. In 2009 only Endeavor, Angel Ventures, and a few events for developers/hackers were active in Mexico City.

How would you describe the ecosystem in Mexico?
As with many things in Mexico, there’s a big divide between people with access to information, resources and networks, and people without. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico is small and incipient because of the social divide, the lack of infrastructure in the country, and historic culture segregation, but it’s growing rapidly as it starts to generate more and more successful entrepreneurs that connect with markets and talent from outside of the so called ecosystem.
The ecosystem is in a stage where it’s realizing where Mexico’s characteristics can be an asset to create global innovation instead of just creating copycats of foreign successful models.

What do you expect in the next 12 months?
More money from the US, Europe and China entering Mexico at the VC stage. First exits above US$100M. More old money investing in innovation via VC, or via internal projects. The launch of more corporate VC funds, corporate accelerators, and niche funds.
I also expect an acceleration of foreign talent setting up shop in Mexico and more projects with a mix of foreign and local talent, instead of pure local talent and investment.
I expect a bigger push from entrepreneurs and businesspeople towards transparency and accountability from the government, as well as initiatives to create specific changes in the public structures and platforms for economic development and innovation.

What are the main challenges?
Corruption, mediocrity, and lack of infrastructure. 1% of Mexicans are like McGyvers that can kick-ass globally competing with anyone if they have a leveled field; 99% are much more passive. We need to have that leveled field which is created by the right structures and political and economical institutions. We cannot expect a Mexican Zuckerberg with our current educational system, corrupt government, corrupt corporations and businesspeople, telecom oligopoly, bank oligopoly, etc. And as always, every challenge is also an opportunity, which makes Mexico an amazing place to be an entrepreneur if what you want is to effect massive and rapid change instead of only competing in numbers with US entrepreneurs.

What change or result would bring the greatest benefits for the ecosystem?
Independent political candidates, a radical change in the educational system (which is already happening with the Internet), transparency in the government and businesses, effective taxation, focus on the right infrastructure and incentives for economic development instead of hand-outs.

Describe your typical day
I try not to have a typical day but pretty much this are my activities in order of time: shower, have breakfast, plan my activities based on priorities, schedule what’s needed on my calendar including big slots for work and focus, check my email, work creating things, work with meetings, stop to have lunch, work on follow-ups, have dinner, chat with my girlfriend, read, sleep early.

Who is your favorite entrepreneur?
My dad. He comes from an impoverished mostly indigenous town in Chiapas, studied until secondary school, worked his entire life selling all types of goods and services (from selling milk to selling cars to becoming a beekeeper) until he learned how to create businesses. He’s happy, fulfilled, and successful in life and business.

A recent book do you recommend?
I’m about to finish Narconomics by Tom Wainwright. After reading many books on the drug trade from a more historical perspective Narconomics is a refresher with much information that is new for me. It analyzes the drug trade from a business/economical perspective and by doing so it creates great insights on how to improve people’s lives by changing the way we interact with illegal and legal drugs.

Smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop?
Laptop, smartphone, and Kindle.

iOS or Android?
iOS.

Favorite App?
Gmail and Facebook.

Favorite social network?
Facebook.

Ideal vacation?
3-4 weeks road trip in Southeast Asia.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Open 5+ WeWork buildings with a US$20M+ P&L. Expand FuckUp Nights to more than 200 cities around the world. Eat great food and read amazing books.

One word that describes you?
Creator.


Previous interview: Juan Carlos Domenzain
This entry was posted in Actualidad, e-entrevista, English, Mexico, Startups and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The e-interview: Pepe Villatoro, WeWork Mexico

  1. Pingback: La e-entrevista: Carolina Mariño, Plug and Play Tech Center | Negocios+tecnología / Business+tech

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