Build Networks, not Walls: A Report From Mexico City


Anyone wishing to change the channel from Trumps dystopian reality show would have done well to tune in to the second NewCo Festival in Mexico City this past week. The inside out NewCo Festival once again revealed a generation of determined business leaders working hard to make the world a better place.

Mexico City has been a hive of human activity for over 500 years. In 2016, it has all the mind-bending juxtapositions of any mega city in the developing world. It also has the fertile ingredients for burgeoning innovation scene:

  • Talent drawn from around the world. This past week I meet entrepreneurs in Mexico who hailed from Germany, Canada, and the US.
  • Creative inspiration in the form of daring architecture, world class parks and museums, international cuisine, and uniquely Mexican entertainment. For example, my wife and I enjoyed some late night jazz in a pulqueria.
  • A growing entrepreneurial support system. NewCo Mexico City sponsors included Mexico IT, a public/private initiative to support the local tech industry; Digilant, a global programmatic marketing tech firm, and co-working companies Kokatu and WeWork. Pepe Villatoro, the General Manager of the first WeWork facility in Mexico City, said they had signed up 1,600 members and were at capacity just months after launching.
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My picks for NewCo Mexico City


On October 19 and 20th, we will be staging our second NewCo Festival in Mexico City. Over 60 innovative businesses will be opening their doors and sharing their experience and insights on tackling meaningful problems. Contrary to those who would build border walls, the NewCo movement believes solutions can come from anywhere, and there are great groups of people inside companies all over the planet working to bring these solutions to market. I’m looking forward to getting up close and personal with innovators south of the border. Below is where I’ll be.

Scene from NewCo Mexico City 2015

Wednesday, October 19

9:00 AM: Tu Canton

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NewCo Mexico City: Proof of a Movement


The unassuming exterior of Startup Mexico

If you drive 15 or 20 minutes north of Mexico city’s richer, more well-tended district of Polanco, you’ll find yourself in the middle of Ampliación Torre Blanca, seemingly just one more crumbling set of traffic-choked blocks in this mega-city’s smoggy sprawl.

But turn down the small street of Ignacio Allende and then again into a small courtyard of #21: There you’ll find Startup Mexico (SUM), a massive converted warehouse thrumming with the energy of scores of new businesses. Once inside, you may as well be in the shared workspaces of New York’s Flatiron or San Francisco’s South of Market. Then it hits you. No one city has dominion over the startup movement: It’s gone global.

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