What do you do currently?
I wear two hats: president of Endeavor Global and chairman of Collective Academy [Note: you can apply now for their Fall 2016 cohort]. I love entrepreneurship and higher education, but they don’t mix well so I have to do them separately.
How and when did you get involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
In 2002, Richard Smith and I organized a tour of Mexican PE funds to meet funds in Claremont, California. Then I launched a business accelerator, which failed miserably, but at the same time Presidents Fox and Bush launched the Partnership for Prosperity Initiative, and somehow Richard and I were asked to write about building an entrepreneurial culture in Mexico. I think that paper landed me a job at Endeavor in early 2005.
How would you describe the ecosystems in Latin America and emerging markets around the world?
I see two kinds: winners and laggards. The former are basically Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Dubai, and Istanbul, with very successful and globally minded entrepreneurs who became a catalyst: a role model, mentor, and investor in the next generation of entrepreneurs. The others, Mexico City included, are trying to catch up. They struggle to find globally minded entrepreneurs with technology-driven firms, and therefore lack that quintessential role model to catalyze the ecosystem. (I’m excluding China, which I know nothing about).
Is the development of high-impact entrepreneurship a global trend?
No. I see trends for start-ups, business plan competitions, and entrepreneurship education. I don’t see any trend towards a scale up culture. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Being a high impact entrepreneur is like being an astronaut. Not everyone should aim to become an astronaut, just the best ones.
What do you expect in the next 12 months?
I’m terrible at predictions. I really have no clear views about the near future.
What are the main challenges you see?
I see two: The hardest one is institutional and has to do with how a city opens up to diversity, multiculturalism, rule of law and quality of life to retain top talent. The second challenge seems more doable: a stronger VC culture, both in quantity and quality. The numbers shown by the NVCA in the US are staggering: VC represents 0.2% of the pool of investable assets, yet firms backed by VC represent 50% of publicly traded firms, 20% of US GDP and 11% of the private labor force. Beat that.
What Mexico and Latin America should bring/import from other geographies to speed up their entrepreneurial movement?
We need many more fund managers with an entrepreneurial or founder mentality, with bigger funds able to lead Seed, Series A and B rounds. Think a16z, First Round, Kleiner Perkins or Greylock: all former successful entrepreneurs turned into big VCs. Better and bigger VCs will immediately result in more globally ambitious entrepreneurs.
Describe your typical day
Make breakfast for my daughters, walk them to school. Take the subway. At the office, I’m usually meeting my team, entrepreneurs, or on the phone with a managing director of an Endeavor office. I travel every two weeks to any of our 25 countries.
I like getting home around 6:30pm. I usually have one last call with our offices in Asia or with Pato to review student performance at Collective Academy around 9pm, after sleeping the kids. Then I binge-watch GoT until I’m comatose.
Who is your favorite entrepreneur?
Bill Gates. We take him for granted but MSFT was launched in 1975 and it changed the world. Today MSFT is worth $500b and Gates launched the single largest philanthropic effort in the history of mankind.
A recent book do you recommend?
Not a book, a blog post that changed my perception about life: Waitbutwhy’s take on Artificial Intelligence.
Smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop?
iOS or Android?
Twitter, but I’m getting in trouble more often now.
Favorite social network?
If Twitter is a social network, Twitter.
What’s a vacation? I love hiking.
What are your goals that you can share, for the next 12 months?
We are going through a massive transformation at Endeavor and I hope not to screw it up. I also hope Collective Academy graduates its first master class and they turn out to be the best damn graduates in Mexico.
One word that describes you?