Friday, November 14, 2014

1871 tech incubator announces partnership with Mexico City incubator

1871 tech incubator announces partnership with Mexico City incubator

1871 partners with Startup Mexico

By Amina Elahi, Blue Sky Reporter

Merchandise Mart-based tech hub 1871 announced Thursday a three-year partnership with Startup Mexico, a Mexico City-based incubator, through which the two would share resources and benefits.

The partnership goes into effect Friday, one year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Chicago’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The program intends to strengthen economic ties among cities to promote job growth, trade and investment opportunities.

Companies from both hubs will have access to each others’ people, amenities and some events, free of charge. Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, said his incubator likely would host a demo day for Mexican startups, as it has for other partners. Tullman said the partnership is reciprocal, with no financial component.

For 1871, the partnership is an extension of a global strategy that has led to connections with startups and incubators in London, Tel Aviv and Ankara, Turkey. Tullman said the Global Cities Initiative pushed him toward a relationship with Mexico City that he said would have happened regardless. Tullman mentioned Brazil as another target for 1871 partnerships.

Tullman and 1871 COO Tom Alexander attended a launch event for Startup Mexico in Mexico City on Thursday morning. Startup Mexico offers about 35,000 square feet of facilities, including coworking space, for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate partners.

Tullman said major Mexican cities are ready for U.S.-based startups. He cited the prevalence of Uber in Mexico City and the popularity of social media there as evidence of a serious tech environment. Chicago companies could lead the Mexican tech industry, where technical skills lag the U.S., he said. 

He expects particular interest in Mexican inroads from 1871’s currency and payments-systems-focused startups.

Proximity to the U.S. also helps Mexico, Tullman said.

“People talk about India or China from a volume standpoint,” Tullman said. “But in terms of really being able to drop your business or solution into major economies, those are a lot more challenging than countries that are adjacent to the U.S.”

Copyright © 2014, Chicago Tribune

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