Techs-Mex mix sees expansion opportunities in Metro Vancouver

The Mexican government has launched an accelerator program in Vancouver to help Mexican digital media startups expand into Western Canada and other international markets.

Vancouver is the second city in Canada in which TechBA has set up shop since it was launched four years ago. The accelerator program is funded by Mexico’s Ministry of Economy.

TechBA Montreal opened in 2006.

While Vancouver’s digital media cluster naturally aligns itself with Silicon Valley, Mexican technology companies have largely been off the cluster’s radar, likely because of their cultural differences and distance from Vancouver and because the Mexican tech cluster is far smaller than Silicon Valley’s.

And while TechBA Vancouver’s main goal is to help Mexican companies form new partnerships and build new fan and customer bases in Western Canada, Catherine Warren, president of FanTrust Entertainment Strategies and one of a handful of local digital media experts hired by TechBA, sees the accelerator as an opportunity for homegrown firms.

“I think any time we bring experts and companies from other cultures into the Vancouver market, great synergies will emerge,” she said. “And it may even have a spillover effect where partnerships that are established allow Vancouver companies to then take what they do down to Mexico.”

TechBA brought representatives from 25 Mexican companies to Vancouver this summer for a series of networking events, tours of companies and workshops.

Out of those 25 companies, 21 are being selected to participate in TechBA.

Though they won’t set up shop in Vancouver immediately, the companies will make frequent visits here to foster relationships and build business.

“B.C. is a magnificent entrepreneurial environment for small and medium-sized companies,” said Federico Goroztieta, TechBA Vancouver’s CEO.

As well as Warren, other Vancouverites are consulting for TechBA, helping it get Mexican companies’ feet wet in Western Canada.

They include Paul Gertz, a veteran executive who works with companies like Rainmaker Entertainment and Zeros 2 Heroes Media, and Steve Bocska, CEO of social network developer Pug Pharm Productions Inc.

Mexican firms will be testing and developing some of their products at Vancouver’s Wavefront AC.

Amber Bezahler, head of digital design at the Vancouver Film School, is on TechBA’s advisory board and was in Mexico in September advising Mexican firms on how they can expand their footprint internationally.

For now, TechBA, which is located at Discovery Parks’ facility in the False Creek Flats, has two employees.

Each TechBA location usually has three to four employees and then hires consultants in its respective region.

TechBA expanded to Seattle and Vancouver simultaneously; the previous TechBA opened in Detroit about a year- and-a-half ago.

Given her experiences with counterparts in Mexico, Warren said language and cultural barriers shouldn’t be an issue for Mexican firms in Vancouver.

“All of these companies and their executives are global entrepreneurs, so they speak English very well,” she said. “It’s kind of the lingua franca of digital entertainment as it is with many businesses.”

She noted that TechBA’s presence could help create some interesting and unique digital content in Vancouver.

“It’s being developed elsewhere by people who are educated elsewhere, and who have a different take or skew on what is possible in this wide open landscape of digital media.”

Every week Techvibes republishes an article from Business in Vancouver. This article was originally published in issue #1098 – November 9 – 15, 2010.