These were the terms I heard around the “lunch” table a few days before Christmas.
At my back was a couple of people dressed “business casual” who, from the murmur of the conversation in English, I realized that they work in one of the investment funds that are right on the same avenue of ” Cerrito Mexican Food “in Menlo Park, California. This avenue called “Sand Hill Road” adjoins the Stanford University campus and is home to almost a hundred of the largest investment funds in the world and that give the most money to entrepreneurs, in exchange for a piece of their companies, it does not matter whether they are in their early stages or in more advanced stages. In total, these offices have available between 8 and 10 BILLION (8-10,000,000,000) dollars to distribute per year. There they are, for example, Khosla Ventures (who has invested in Elon Musk’s Ultrasonic Hyperloop) Kleiner Perkins (who invested in Google, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber, Waze), DFJ (who invested in Tesla Motors, Skype, Hotmail) and we can continue to list up to more than 100 investor offices that have also invested in unknown companies of entrepreneurs who come from all over the world.
At the side table there were 4 people speaking in Spanish, due to the accent and the soccer teams mentioned in the conversation were undoubtedly of Mexican origin, my compatriots. At some point they talked about the plumbing jobs they worked on. When I left the restaurant I saw that my car was parked right between a van with pipes and tools and a brand new Maseratti.
These situations are very recurrent in Silicon Valley, especially on that street on Sand Hill Road. The conversation that takes place in English is about business, investment in talent, in companies with global impact. The Spanish language is associated with the subject of services and manual work.
In English they speak of the “pipeline” of projects in which they intend to invest, in Spanish of the pipes that have to be installed in a house or office.
First I want to make a clarification, I do not intend at all to put on trial or demerit the noble work done by hundreds of thousands of Latino workers, mostly Mexican, in this region of the United States. Even despite their low educational level, they send several billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico. On the contrary, every time I see them they motivate me, give me an example and inspiration to invite those who do have education and a higher socioeconomic level in emerging countries to do the same as them and come to this type of place to add to the “pipeline” of entrepreneurial investors in our countries or that those with a little capital generate their own “pipeline of projects”.
A couple of months ago I had a meeting at the Khosla Ventures offices, 1 block from “Cerrito Mexican Food” with a friend from India as we are evaluating taking our organization and programs to Africa where he has the right contacts. Upon arriving at their offices, I met some workers who were tidying the garden and with their trimmers at full volume. As they passed in front of them, they kindly turned off their machines, I graciously thanked them: “Thank you friends, good morning” and they reply, “Good day boss.” This situation put me back to reflecting on the same topic that I have been talking about for years. I come to the office of an Indian investor in Silicon Valley, who invests in things like Elon Musk’s supersonic train and other such crazy things and who receives me are my fellow gardeners of mine.
Personally, for me, as a Mexican, it is a situation that I can understand because I know the reality of my country of origin as well as its potential, drive and opportunities. However, if we put ourselves in the shoes of the rest of the people who circulate in these parts (Koreans, Americans, Chinese, Russians, English) who do not know the true multifaceted reality of Mexico and Latin America, regarding their advances and modernization, the The image they obtain is given by Mexicans who, due to different circumstances, have a minimal school education.
These brothers of ours have already done their part, they have internationalized, they have globalized, they have taken risks even at the cost of their lives, many have left their families and still send us an enormous amount of remittances. Where are the ones who go to the best business schools? The best entrepreneurs who have failed to unleash their greatest potential? Where are the investment professionals or those with a little surplus capital?
The fact that the professional and investor elite of Latin America come here to Silicon Valley to meet, learn and connect (not just to take photos in front of the buildings of emblematic companies) does a huge favor to our region, not only for the opportunities that this place already offers in terms of business, but because it helps to change a misperception that exists in the World Capital of Innovation about Latin America. In other words, connections are created, a “pipeline” that connects the capital, talent and knowledge of our countries with an ocean of opportunities.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the impact that the Indians, the Chinese, the Eastern Europeans living in Silicon Valley are having on their countries of origin.
Fortunately, more and more we see initiatives that make this connection possible, however it seems to me that we must increase the participation in investments and also the migration of our best entrepreneurs. In other words, we need to talk more about “pipelines” of projects and less about “pipes”. Now we already have SV Links Angels, a legal vehicle to facilitate investments of the people in our network, in entrepreneurs based in Silicon Valley. This week the first investment of close to a million dollars is made and we already have 3 more projects in the pipeline.