- Title: Undercover entrepreneurs: fearful Mexican tech startups shun spotlight
- Date: 16th October 2019
- Summary: MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (FILE - AUGUST 8, 2018) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF POLICE OPERATION IN THE STREETS OF THE CITY GUADALAJARA, JALISCO, MEXICO (FILE - FEBRUARY 10, 2011) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF CRIME SCENE MAN CRYING AND SHOUTING AT CRIME SCENE BODIES ON THE STREET FORENSIC EMPLOYEES CARRYING BODY INTO VEHICLE
- Embargoed: 30th October 2019 19:18
- Keywords: Mexico burgeoning startup scene publicity entrepreneurs Silicon Valley Mexican startup founders
- Location: GUADALAJARA, JALISCO / MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- City: GUADALAJARA, JALISCO / MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA004B1CLOP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
In Mexico's burgeoning startup scene, publicity is the last thing many entrepreneurs want.
Unlike plenty of their P.R.-hungry counterparts in Silicon Valley, Mexican startup founders often decline media interviews, avoid public announcements and suppress details of financial success.
One big reason: they do not want to attract criminals.
Though understandable, the low-profile approach is holding back Mexico's technology industry, investors and experts say, making it harder to attract talent and money, especially from abroad.
Mexico's tech sector last year drew only $175 million in venture capital, according to the Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America. That was dwarfed by Brazil, the region's powerhouse, which received $1.3 billion, but also trailed Colombia, which drew $334 million in venture capital though its economy is worth about a quarter of Mexico's.
Reuters spoke with two dozen investors and startup founders who acknowledged that security concerns were widespread in the tech community and had even pushed some entrepreneurs abroad.
Illustrating the concern, most declined to speak on the record.
Without publicity, entrepreneurs struggle to recruit the best, bring in money and inspire the next generation.
To be sure, violence is rampant elsewhere in Latin America, from drug-torn Colombia to crime-ridden Brazil.
But the issue is especially acute in Mexico due to an escalation of violence from over a decade ago when the government sent armed forces into the streets to crack down on the cartels. Around the same time, drug gangs began branching into extortion.
A string of high-profile kidnappings and murders, including the death of an executive at broadcaster Televisa killed on his bike during a shootout in 2017, rattled the elite.
That has generated business for executive protection firms, who provide bullet-proof vehicles, GPS trackers, armed bodyguards and real-time monitoring.
For startups, the fears may be more perception than reality: there are no known cases of tech entrepreneurs being attacked after sharing their company's success.
And some do still announce their deals.
Bismarck Lepe, chief executive of software company Wizeline, believes his peers are being over-cautious, despite the horrors Mexico has suffered.
Some entrepreneurs say the political climate, with leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador frequently crusading against the elites, has made it an additionally awkward time to tout multi-million deals in a culture that frowns on bragging.
(Production: Carlos Carrillo)
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