Firm Looks to Southern Neighbor Idea Foundry Partners with Mexican Social Entrepreneurship Program for Greater Inclusion

By Todd, Deborah M | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), November 13, 2014 | Go to article overview

Firm Looks to Southern Neighbor Idea Foundry Partners with Mexican Social Entrepreneurship Program for Greater Inclusion


Todd, Deborah M, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


A cross-border partnership between Idea Foundry and Mexican social entrepreneurship organizations could plant the seeds for greater cross-cultural collaboration in Pittsburgh.

The Oakland-based firm, which accelerates the growth and the commercialization process for startups, has joined forces with Mexican foundations Nacional Monte de Piedad and the Televisia Foundation to apply its model to Mexican entrepreneurs seeking to spread their reach. Together, Nacional Monte de Piedad and Televisia Foundation sponsor Posible, Mexico's largest social entrepreneurship program.

It's not Idea Foundry's first international venture. The organization has been encouraging entrepreneurship in countries across the globe for the past five years, CEO Mike Matesic said.

However, for the first time, this partnership will provide the expertise and connections available to Idea Foundry companies in Pittsburgh to four Mexican startups via video conferencing, site visits and Spanish-speaking Mexico natives who will serve as liaisons between Idea Foundry and the foreign companies.

Mr. Matesic said the idea came from two summer interns researching links between Idea Foundry programs and counterparts in Mexico, but the partnership was solidified once he discovered the chance to partner with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. While the Nacional Monte de Piedad is a nonprofit dedicated to interest-free loans for the poor, the Televisa Foundation is a nonprofit arm of Televisia, a Mexican mass media company that is among the largest in Latin America.

He said the Televisa Foundation already has invested through a contract of a little less than $20,000 that covers the costs of Ximena Diaz Rodriguez, director of entrepreneurial activities in Mexico, and Elena Gutierrez, another Spanish-speaking Idea Foundry employee who helps connect with the new companies.

"This is not about government programs alone, this is about everybody," said Mr. Matesic. "For large corporations to take on the responsibility to make an impact locally was something we were very interested in supporting."

Mrs. Diaz Rodriguez said the current team of four companies was narrowed down from a pool of more than 100 teams that participated in a pitch competition in August in Mexico City.

The teams were narrowed down to 20 after weeks of interviews with Mrs. Diaz Rodriguez, and that group was cut to four once Mr. Matesic and the Pittsburgh team researched which ones were the best fit.

"Ximena and Elena are from Mexico, but that doesn't mean we're an expert on every matter in Mexico just like we're not an expert on every matter here in Pittsburgh. …

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