Guadalajara has attracted tech giants such as IBM, Oracle and Intel. The city has a young and increasingly educated workforce that has secured its reputation as a Latin “Silicon Valley.” The city has also developed an impressive business culture. Hackers & Founders and iTuesdays regularly organize startup meetings for budding entrepreneurs. The city even plans to take advantage of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to restrict visas for foreign workers to Silicon Valley. Guadalajara tech companies are hoping to appeal to foreign talent that might otherwise head to California.
Once considered a seedy party town, Tijuana has transformed its image in recent years and is now attracting a host of technology companies from the United States, drawn to the city by its youthful, bilingual population. Local engineering talent is in ample supply, with more engineering graduates in Tijuana than nearby San Diego. Location is another major draw. Tijuana is the closest Mexican city to Silicon Valley, offering tech expertise for a fraction of the price.
Just two and a half hours from Tijuana, the border city of Mexicali has little in the way of a startup scene, but excels at technology and engineering. The U.S. industrial conglomerate Honeywell Aerospace has set a research center in the area, employing a team of 350 local engineers, testers and developers. The high-tech aerospace facility is still an outlier in Mexico – most production plants in the country still focus on simpler assembly tasks. Yet the center represents the next phase of innovation in technology for Mexico. The country is keen to move beyond assembly and employ its own engineers and designers in industries such as car production and aerospace.
Once regarded as the most murderous city in the world, Ciudad Juárez is actively seeking to reinvent itself. Between 2008 and 2012, the city became synonymous with drug cartel violence. Yet in recent years, major international firms such as the airplane manufacturer Boeing have expanded into the area. Traditionally an industrial city, the border city is also looking to attract investment for its nascent startup scene. These new tech companies are run by bicultural and tech-literate millennials who grew up watching TV in English and crossed the border frequently.
The startup scene in the Mexican capital has experienced a real boom in recent years. The city has produced major success stories such as Kueski, the leading micro-lender in Latin America, which last year secured $35 million from major investors in Mexico and the United States. The capital has also produced exciting, socially-responsible startups such as Aliada, an app that links domestic workers with clients near their home. The online platform was developed by Mexico City residents Rodolfo Corcuera and Ana Isabel Orvananos. Corcuera came up with the idea after finding out that his cleaner was traveling four hours each way to get to his house. The app is designed to reduce travel times, increase accountability and improve conditions for cleaners, who are some of the most vulnerable workers in the country.