The Desert Angels, an Arizona-based non-profit organization of investors, kicked off their fifth annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday at the University of Arizona (UofA).
Bob Morrison, the organizer of the event and a member of the local Desert Angels investment group, said that this year’s summit differed from past ones because they extended it into two days, with the first exposing angel investors to Mexico’s market, entrepreneurship and innovation.
“(Angel investors) need to understand that (Mexico) is not the land of just tequila and margaritas, but a land of investment opportunities,” Morrison said.
Speaker Giancarlo Ciscomani Freaner led the discussion panel by sharing with the audience one such opportunity: Angel Ventures Mexico (AVM).
According to Freaner, AVM was founded in 2008 in Mexico City and is run by Hernan Fernandez. In general, the company focuses on “providing companies and angel investors with potential looking for capital.”
Giancarlo Ciscomani Freaner (right) interacts with an angel investor on the first day of the Fifth Annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday. Freaner introduced angel investors from both Mexico and the U.S. to the company, Angel Ventures Mexico. Photo by Melissa Guz
“Angel investing is a critical stage in our development,” Freaner said. “The challenge is getting access to them… the (U.S.) investors interested in spanning into Mexico. We need help opening up the market to Mexico.”
Freaner also said that their major plan is to replicate a model so that Mexicans living in foreign countries can invest in the Mexican/Hispanic innovation.
“Unfortunately, there are minor cultural problems,” he said. “One of these problems (that applies toward investments in general) is that investors don’t like to put money in things with high risk or that they’re uncertain about.”
And in this case, it appears that many investors are worried about the safety and trustworthiness of such companies based in Mexico.
This concern over establishing credibility toward Mexican-based companies ended-up being one of the central driving factors behind the start-up company, enBIDia. It was pitched by Luis R. Soto and Alexandra Garcia, who are two members of the management team, as well as international students attending the UofA’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
According to Soto, enBIDia is a penny-bidding website similar to the Canada’s beezid.com. However, its aim is to provide trust in both the Mexican market and government.
“There is no friendly penny auction in Mexico because a lot of people don’t trust them,” Soto said. He used the company, por1peso as an example. He said that this auction website has a great deal of discontent to its customers.
“Compared to others, we want to be transparent, friendly, have fast delivery, as well as provide a natural bidding Mexican-based website with an entertaining outlet,” Soto said.
In addition to establishing trust with their customers as the main business risk, Garcia noted that a major financial risk is just being able to raise the sufficient funds for the products they will be auctioning off.
“This is also the result of the lack of industry information in Mexico,” she said.
The panel then transitioned into a company called CIMATIKA. According to its CEO, Franciska Karsay, CIMATIKA was founded in 2011 by scientists as a technology-transfer project between the UofA and Mexico’s National Board of Science and Technology, or CONACYT. In general, CIMATIKA was designed to highlight Mexico’s innovations by commercializing them to benefit the Mexican people.
And in this case, CIMATIKA highlighted products like their Automated Counting System, which allows the counting of a specific product’s order size and inventory in seconds. In general, it counts things like various stacked materials, such as lumber, metal or paper, Karsay said.
Marcos Garay listens to Freaner's presentation on Angel Ventures Mexico on the first day of the Fifth Annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday. Garay believes that it is important for angel investors from both the U.S. and Mexico to start understanding where each country comes from when dealing with investments, entrepreneurship and technological innovations. Photo by Melissa Guz
By the end, angel investors like Marcos Garay from New York City appeared to have shown a great interest in the education of Mexican investors about how U.S. investors think, and vise versa.
“There are a lot of good things down there, and a lot of misconceptions (like safety),” Garay said. “The time has come to increase business from one place to another… Our challenge is to bring forth the opportunity of entrepreneurship everywhere.”
Click here to see the agenda for the second day of the summit.