My Path to Entrepreneurship: From Mexico to Tokyo - and Back

First Steps in Business 
After studying International Law at the University of the Americas (UDLAP) in Puebla, Mexico, I worked for a year in the legal department of the National Union of Health Workers (SNTSS) until I came up with a business idea, which brought me back to my hometown, Oaxaca. 

Together with a friend, I got enough funding together from a bank and some investors to open a small hotel in the historic city. 

This was my first formal enterprise. Although I’ve always been attracted to doing business—when I was in middle school I bought a CD burner and started selling homemade music CDs to my classmates—I even did quite well. 

The hotel business proved to be very profitable, we got a couple awards for the best small hotel in town from Internet booking companies and this helped our reputation massively. 

A year later, after analyzing the performance of the hotel’s restaurant, I decided to venture into the restaurant business proper, opening my first Asian-Mexican fusion eatery in 2010. 

Start-up Challenges 
Running a restaurant proved to be more difficult than expected and we nearly closed it. In the end though, we decided to relocate and change the concept slightly, bring a new partner on board and reinvest a considerable amount of money to make it work. Luckily, these changes were successful and the restaurant finally became profitable, allowing us to open a second branch about a year later. 

After managing these businesses, I realized two things: 
1. I really enjoy working on new business projects, and 
2. I needed more formal education in business administration. 

So, for my next big step, I moved to Tokyo and started my MBA at GLOBIS. 

My Experience as an International MBA Student 
Moving to Tokyo was a very big step and a complex process. A new city, a new language, new people…

Just getting permanent accommodation proved to be quite difficult. However, Japanese people were usually quite understanding of the cultural and behavioral differences foreigners have, so the integration process wasn’t too tough. 

In fact, most people were very keen to meet me, just to chat or have lunch. They all seemed very curious about my perspectives as a foreigner and my reasons for choosing Japan, instead of the U.S. or Europe, to continue my studies. 

I was able to rapidly adapt to Tokyo life (as much as it is possible for a newcomer who speaks limited Japanese). I made many good friends, got closer to the local culture, attended many festivals, learned (some) Japanese manners, and traveled all over the country. 

I can certainly say my stay in Japan was very enriching and has marked my life for the best. 

Global Diversity in the Tokyo Classroom 
My MBA classmates were a great bunch of people. We were a very international group with about 35% foreign students from across the world and 65% Japanese students with overseas work and study experience. 

This mix always allowed us to have very fresh and diverse perspectives in class. And I discovered that there are still many differences regarding methods, ideas and opinions between East and West. 

I also realized how we are rapidly merging into one big international business community, spanning from financial systems to HR procedures. I also noticed that people in Asia are eager to use Western business methods and Western people are eager to do business in Asia. 

New Perspectives on Japan 
Another takeaway is that ‘internationalized’ Japanese people tend to be the ones transforming Japan’s business landscape. 

Although they won’t revert to the old ways of doing things, they won’t leave aside their cultural values either. 

I believe most of my Japanese classmates belong to this group, always offering innovative ideas in class, even shocking some more traditional lecturers. 

I learned many new concepts, methodologies, tools and ideas at GLOBIS, both from classmates and instructors. This was exactly the kind of educational experience I was looking for—a very practical and hands-on one. 

I always knew there were other, more academically oriented MBA programs but my passion has been always to start a new business, which aligned perfectly with the entrepreneurial spirit of GLOBIS. 

Most of what I learned in my MBA, I am using right now in my professional life. 

Back to Mexico With a Difficult Choice 
When I came back to Mexico I faced a very difficult decision. Should I join a well-established company or start my own business from scratch? 

Basically, I had to look for a job with either an average salary and slow career growth, or take a big risk investing my own money into a new business and hope for the best using all the market and risk analysis tools I now had in my possession. 

In the end, my entrepreneurial spirit won and I decided to start my own venture. 

A New Path 
Currently my professional life is divided in two businesses. I’m the Financial Director at Madness Films, a film licensing and distribution company. I’m also Director of Innóvate Digital Marketing—my own start-up. 

My work at both companies has been possible to a great extent thanks to the knowledge I acquired during my MBA, and the work experience and contacts I developed in Tokyo. All these elements, together with my entrepreneurial hunger nurtured by my many venture related classes at GLOBIS, helped me on my current career path. 

Starting-up a Business: Innóvate Digital Marketing 
My start-up business has is doing quite well, as it meets a very basic fundamental need in the market: affordable and effective advertising for small businesses. 

There are many challenges in this field, like managing an effective B2B sales force, volatile currency exchange, etc. All, of course, combined with all the inherent complexities of starting a new business. 

However I’m very optimistic about the future of this company and I’m devoted to making it a big success. 

A New Professional Challenge 
I joined Madness Films as partner and Financial Director at the beginning of this year with the purpose of aiding in its much needed restructuring. 

Joining this company has allowed me to continue a business project I started back in Tokyo in my Venture Strategy class, a project that has been constantly evolving until today—allowing me to incorporate my ideas into this multifaceted company, which is built around three core businesses. 

• Distribution in Mexico and US of films and other audiovisual content, focusing on Asian media, such as feature films, drama, anime, concerts, etc. 
• Production of DVD, Blu-ray and other home entertainment media. 
• Multimedia studio, including all the necessary post-production processes. 

Lately my work here takes up most of time, however it is very rewarding to observe how my efforts are helping the company to grow and to develop a much needed structure. 

I believe we will open a Tokyo office sometime soon, meaning I might return to this cherished city.

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