Tag Archives: Tijuana

Q&A: Changing Mexico from cheap labor provider to a global engineering powerhouse

alfonso aramburoThe following interview is about Alfonso Arámburo, CEO of Brecher Mfg, a product design company in Tijuana, Mexico that specializes in engineering development and mechatronic prototyping.

Alfonso is an entrepreneur and engineer with 6 years of experience. Alfonso has Bachelors in Mechatronic Engineering, in addition a Masters in Business Administration. Alfonso has worked for companies such as Turbotec, a Caterpillar company, Rockwell Automation, TECO GmbH in the city of Munich, Germany leading projects for companies such as Continental, BMW, Renault, Land Rover and Chrysler.

You can contact Alfonso at a.aramburo@brechermfg.com or on LinkedIn

How to think what no one else thinks

How to think what no one else thinks

Image source: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/07/fish-dont-know-theyre-in-water/

Want to think what nobody has ever thought? Easy, question assumptions.

There comes a moment in time where everyone agrees with everybody about pretty much everything. For any sized organization that are focused on creating a culture of relentless innovation, hardened dogma is an innovation obstacle they must overcome.

Question everything to break out of habitual thinking

big pinata at Mi Pueblo Restaurant in TIjuana

Innovation comes from new ways of seeing and new ways of being. Learn to see different, learn to be different, and you will discover the different.

Though Tijuana has to come to be known as a place where you’ll find great food, I don’t think that is the case. For example, take a stroll through West Los Angeles and you are bound to find more food variety and differentiated restaurants than in Tijuana. Same goes for San Diego. Yes Tijuana has great food, but it’s not like you can’t find it anywhere else.

This weekend I had lunch at a very colorful traditional mexican food restaurant in Tijuana. The inside of the restaurant is themed as a city and it has the biggest Pinata I’ve ever seen in my life!

We need different kinds of Silicon Valley not more Silicon Valleys

Here in the mexican border city of Tijuana there’s been constant discussion about how to collaborate with our next door neighbor San Diego. I’ve actually been advocating for this myself by co-founding Startup Weekend here a few years ago and also by arranging partnerships with partners in San Diego and a client in Tijuana to provide a service where co-working spaces in San Diego and Tijuana create a type of pass for their members where anyone can arrive at any participating co-working space; free of charge.

These initiatives were done with the intent of stimulating cross-border collaboration between entrepreneurs, but it hasn’t been without its challenges.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I attended a local conference about Silicon Valley and San Diego as innovation ecosystems. Tijuana, like San Diego, is creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem to call their own but an ongoing challenge is that the conversation always ends up with Silicon Valley as a model to follow.

Innovation is not a short game. It’s the art of playing the long game

Will this move the needle? What is the ROI? When will we see a return on our investment? How fast can you prove this will work?

No, I wasn’t at a BIG company meeting when I heard these questions. I was at a Startup Weekend this past weekend, and the people asking these questions were participants. Not the judges. What?!

As one of the original founders of SW in Tijuana, I get a lot of feedback from participants about their experience at SW. From what they think sucks, to what they like, to what they think would add more value, I hear it all. Besides the questions above, one particular group of participants (composed of a lawyer and a couple of MBA types) noticed that most of the people who come to pitch are of the “let’s create this because it would be cool” variety, not the “let’s do this because we’re going to make a lot of money”.

You would not be surprised if big company executives were making these types of remarks, or asking these types of questions. In big companies, being able to prove that your idea will make a significant impact on the bottom line is a criteria your idea must have if you want to move your project through the gauntlet.

To innovate better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission

Cultures of innovation are naturally dynamic. Employees think of new ideas and try them on the fly. Processes and procedures are fluid. There often is no one right answer to a problem, but rather experimentation drives many projects, efforts, assignments, and ultimately opportunities for improvement.

With that said, in my neck of the woods, businesses are the complete inverse.

Take a recent experience I had with the marketing manager of a telecommunications company based in Tijuana. With Startup Weekend Tijuana 4 coming this week, this marketing manager enthusiastically let me know that she signed up to participate. “Great!”, I said. But there was one minor problem: she didn’t want me to tell her boss about it.

Sucks!

According to her, the boss doesn’t want people to have their head occupied in anything other than what they’re supposed to be doing at work.

Sound familiar?

The non-obvious innovation obstacle: charlatanism

No, we don’t need innovation offices or officers for our cities. Buzzword mania, and everyone wanting to be a part of the bandwagon make it a ignorant proposition. Most of the innovation offices want to resemble Silicon Valley, including its focus on technology.

Remember, innovation isn’t just about tech. So, another tech center does not innovation make.