Mexico City – Mexico’s capital – is a major metropolitan hub and the driving force of the country’s economy, generating nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP. It’s also just a short plane ride from Silicon Valley and has been growing its entrepreneurial ecosystem in recent years. With easy connections to both the U.S. and the rest of Latin America, increasing adoption of technology, and government efforts to support entrepreneurship, the city is primed to be able to make a name for itself as a major startup hub.
However, economic and cultural issues hold the city (and the rest of the country) back and there is work to be done before Mexico City can claim its seat at the table of truly vibrant world startup hubs.
Taking a look at these visualizations from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor you can see that while Mexico has lagged the United States in terms of established business ownership, it’s making a real push to catch up – and maybe even pass the U.S. – in terms of new business starts.
My next few posts will be interviews with movers and shakers in the startup world of Mexico City who will share their takes on where the startup ecosystem in Mexico’s capital city stands, what obstacles Mexico City faces in creating a more vibrant startup community, how the city can help to develop its entrepreneurial ecosystem, and where the startup community in the city will be in 5 to 10 years.
About an hour outside of Mexico City sit the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan and last month I visited to experience the Spring Equinox Celebration hosted there where people believe they can absorb the energy of the sun by wearing white and soaking up the rays while exploring the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.
I won’t give you all of the details about Teotihuacan, as it’s easily Googleable, but you can watch my video of the Spring Equinox Celebration below.
In order to get from Mexico City to Teotihuacan you can go to Autobuses del Norte station on the Mexico City metro. When you come out of the metro you will see the bus station directly in front of you and you want to go all the way to the left of the station (gate 8) to purchase a bus ticket to Teotihuacan. Make sure you’re headed to the pyramids/ruins and not just to the town of Teotihuacan. The bus costs 40 pesos (less than $4 USD) and takes about an hour. From there you stand in line to buy your tickets to enter, which are 57 pesos each. Please note, if you have a video camera you have to pay extra to bring it in and you need to purchase the ticket at the same place that you purchase your entrance ticket, but nobody will tell you that until you walk all of the way to the next gate and you’ll be sent back. How much the video camera charge is depends on your camera’s model.
Once inside you’re basically free to explore on your own and you can exit and re-enter all day with your ticket so I recommend going out to the street vendors for lunch, drinks, and some jewelry. When you’re ready to head back to Mexico City just return to your entrance gate and you’ll see buses lined up to take you back.
It’s an incredibly easy day trip from Mexico City and well worth it. Just remember to bring your sunscreen!
One of the biggest stresses for entrepreneurs can be figuring out where to get the necessary to capital to start your dream business or to grow your existing business to its full potential. If you don’t have a finance background and/or this is your first time as an entrepreneur, you may not be familiar with all of the funding options available to you and choosing the best option for your business is critical to your company’s continued growth and success.
This video will give you a quick overview of the funding options available to help you get started with exploring the best financing for your small business. If you’re still confused and need some help deciding what type of financing is best for your company, talk to a mentor or head to the “Work with Cate” page and make an appointment to speak with me about how best to move your dream business forward.
Choosing a cofounder to help you build the startup you envision into a real business is one of the most important first steps in laying the foundation for success. Poorly matched cofounders will have innumerable disagreements, create TONS of unnecessary headaches, and hold back the growth of a business. Yet, despite knowing this, many entrepreneurs don’t put the necessary time and effort into vetting potential cofounders to ensure that the founding team will work well together, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and effectively delegate to build their budding business into a thriving company.
If you’re about to get into bed with a new cofounder, use these tips to make sure you’ll avoid the biggest pitfalls and choose a cofounder who will help you get ahead, not one who will hold you back.
One of the things I was most excited about seeing when I came to Mexico was the monarch butterfly preserve in Michoacan. All of the monarch butterflies in North American migrate south to Mexico to wait out the cold season in this one area, so there are literally millions of butterflies flying all around you and it’s an incredible experience. The butterflies are only in Michoacan from October to March, and I arrived in March, so this is the first adventure I had in Mexico because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Take a look at this video of the preserve and if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, the info on how to get there is below.
It’s super easy to get to the butterfly preserves from Mexico City, where I’m staying. I took a bus from Mexico City to a town called Zitacuaro and from there to a town called Ocampo. Altogether the buses cost about $15 USD one way. In Ocampo, which is a tiny little town, I was only able to find one hotel called Hotel San Carlos. It was basic but clean and the lady who helped was wonderful. The hotel for one night cost roughly $20 USD. It’s best to go up to Ocampo the day before, spend the night, and then head up to the preserve in the morning (around 8 or 9). You don’t want to go too early because it’s cold in the morning so the butterflies are not that active, but you also don’t want to go too late or the preserve will start to get crowded. You can take a taxi or a group van up to the preserve from Ocampo. A taxi will run you just under $10 USD, the van will be less than 2 bucks (even with the surcharge you’ll get for not being Mexican).
Once at the preserve, we opted to ride horses up to the actual butterfly area. The price is about $6.25 USD but this is a one-way fee so be sure to double whatever price they tell you. I loved riding up to the butterfly area but if you’ve never ridden a horse before I wouldn’t suggest making this your first try. The horses have saddles, but the reins aren’t full reins, they’re strings, and if you’re too short for the stirrups (like me) they won’t adjust them for you so you end up bouncing around quite a bit. It’s also a pretty steep climb and the horses sometimes stumble a bit. You ride the horses about 3/4 of the way up and then you have to get off and walk the rest of the way with a guide. You’re not allowed to enter the woods without a guide but they’re just there to make sure you don’t wander off where you’re not supposed to be, not to give any information about the preserve or the butterflies, so try to do some research before you get there. Once you get to the observation spot you’re allowed to stay as long as you wish but you have to remain quiet in the area so as not to disturb the butterflies. Trust me, you can get lost in the fluttering for well over an hour. Whenever you’re ready you just grab your guide and head back down where you can grab another cab or van back to Ocampo.
We had dinner in Ocampo before turning in the day we got there and then had breakfast and lunch there the next day before heading home. The total for the three meals was maybe $10 or $15 USD per person and they were big, tasty meals made by someone’s mom or grandmother. That means all told the entire adventure cost less than $100 and was absolutely well worth it.
I love to travel, so even when I’m not being a nomad I take a trip every year for my birthday. This year I took a cruise – with my parents and cousin – to Italy, Greece, and Turkey and it was AMAZING!
I’ve been trying to get my parents to try out cruising ever since I worked on a cruise ship after finishing undergrad and this is the first time they finally agreed to take one. We went on the Norwegian Jade out of Civitavecchia, which is about an hour outside of Rome. I’d been to Italy before, but this was my first time in both Greece and Turkey and it was also my first time as a full-fledged guest on a ship and my first time on Norwegian (I worked on Royal Caribbean).
We had some serious difficulties getting to Italy because of flight delays but, luckily, we’d given ourselves a day buffer so we didn’t miss our ship. I emphatically recommend getting to your departure port at least an entire day early if you’re ever going on a cruise. There are just too many things that could delay you and you wouldn’t want to miss your cruise just because you were too cheap to get a hotel for one night. Once we made it to the ship, however, it was smooth sailing (pun intended) and we had a fabulous time. Thank you so much to Freddy, Joe, Rodrigo, and the rest of the Jade crew for showing me a fabulous time! I’m still partial to Royal Caribbean (better food) but you all made sure my birthday cruise kicked booty.
We decided to go in the winter for a few reasons: 1) We didn’t want to deal with the crazy heat in the summer 2) We got avoid the worst of the crowds because it was low season 3) We chose winter for the other two reasons, but the bonus was it’s cheaper to go on the off season. All around, it was a GREAT decision and I would definitely do the Med on the off season again. The weather really wasn’t that bad if you dressed appropriately and we were happy to avoid the lines and sunstroke that we know are common at the sites we visited during the summer months.
After Rome we headed to Greece and visited Olympia and Athens. We took tours organized from the ship in both ports and had a great time.
In Oympia, we visited an olive farm and saw the ruins.
In Athens we took a tour of the city and went to the New Acropolis Museum and saw the Parthenon.
Next we headed to Turkey where we stopped in Izmir and Istanbul. In Izmir we visited the ruins at Ephesus, which are probably the most incredibly ruins I’ve ever seen. The city is very well preserved and the infrastructure they had in place at that time was amazing.
Next we went to Istanbul and saw the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the Palace at Dolmabahce. To be completely honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with either the Hagia Sofia or the Blue Mosque but the Palace was really enjoyable. I also got to see an old friend of mine who lives in Istanbul now so I had a blast.
After Turkey it was time to head back to Italy and we stopped in Naples before heading back to Civitavecchia. We took a tour to Pompei and had some incredible pizza before getting back on the ship and heading home.
After Pompei it was back to Rome for us where went to see St. Peter’s in Vatican City (a little hectic given we were there right after the Pope announced his resignation).
All in all it was an amazing trip and it was the perfect way to start out my year as a nomad. I had a wonderful time and I hope get to see my friends on the Jade again soon.