The under the radar hot spot for VC’s in Latin America: Mexico

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Brazil was yesterday’s hotspot for investing in startups in Latin America — tomorrow’s may be Mexico. On the heels of Dave McClure’s firm 500 Startups doubling down on Mexico by acquiring a local accelerator, one of Mexico’s most aggressive VC firms Alta Ventures Mexico announced on Tuesday that it’s closed a $70 million fund to invest in startups in Mexico and Latin America.

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Alta Ventures has arguably done more than any other firm in terms of building the venture capital community in Mexico. The Mexican arm of the firm, led by Rogelio de los Santos and Paul Ahlstrom, started looking for a new optimal place to invest in startups back in 2005, and after crunching the numbers decided on Mexico. Mexico has high growth potential, a large market size of over 50 million people, a GDP per capita of under $14,000, political stability, a decent history of human rights, and enough business and entrepreneurship indicators like a small number of days needed to start a business.

Landing on Mexico as the perfect place for VC investment was even a shock for the firm. Ahlstrom told me during a talk in Mexico City in May that “Our image of Mexico was dusty, sombreros, drug problems, immigration issues. Not high tech.” But Ahlstrom worked for years on developing a VC ecosystem in Mexico, including working on enabling pension funds to invest in venture capital funds, and organizing conferences to bring together the community.

The $70 million fund is Alta Venture’s first fund in Mexico, and includes investment from International Finance Corporation (IFC), Fondo de Fondos (CMIC), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), 29 families in Monterrey, Mexico, 500 Startups, and the Guadalajara Angel Investment Network (GAIN). Alta Ventures has already invested in Mexico startups across sectors including web invoicing company Diverza, cleantech company Energryn, social gaming group Juxta Labs, and Rhomobile, which was sold to Motorola in 2011.

Image courtesy of Arturusoft.

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