By Duncan Tucker
A popular TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors is coming to Latin America, with a pilot due to be shot in Guadalajara in early September. Based on the BBC program “Dragons’ Den,” the Mexican version will be called “Arena de los Titanes,” hinting at the outsized ambitions of Mexican startups.
The UK’s “Dragons’ Den” is based on a Japanese program called “Tiger of Money,” which spawned similar shows around the globe, from Afghanistan to the U.S. Based on the title, Mexican startups may be less inclined to eat the competition alive than their counterparts in other countries, where titles have referred to contestants as sharks, lions and other bloodthirsty creatures.
Several investors are already lined up for the panel of “Arena de los Titanes,” but the producers are seeking contestants with sound business plans who are willing to present them on television.
News of the TV show was announced at the monthly iTuesday gathering hosted by the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce, during which investors, entrepreneurs, academics and other interested parties gather for a dose of industry news, guest speeches and “rocket pitches” from local start-ups.
Two potential “Arena de los Titanes” contestants among the monthly pitches:
New Spin on Public Transport
Alexander Kyllmann, managing partner of Guadalajara-based business ModuTram, presented the AutoTren, a form of public urban transport planned for 42 cities across Latin America. Quick, cheap, safe and sustainable, the AutoTren is a shuttle line that would run above existing roads. Under way since the beginning of 2010, the project now has over 100 people working on it in Guadalajara and several other Mexican cities.
According to Kyllmann, ModuTram has identified a number of sites for potential AutoTren installations: 21 cities in Brazil, 14 cities in Mexico and seven in Colombia. The lines would be installed in three six-month stages, at a cost of $6 million US per kilometer. Charging passengers $1 US per journey, Kyllman envisages the system would bring in $30,000 US per day during the first stage, rising to $250,000 US per day once the third stage is complete.
But first the company must raise funds. “We’re looking for angel investment of approximately $300,000 US at first,” Kyllmann said. “Then we’ll be looking for a round of capital investment worth $2 million US.”
‘Cross Between Travelocity, Groupon’
Rodrigo Marin pitched the Jalisco Travel Channel, an online television channel to promote tourism in the state. Tourism is among the top five industries in terms of online sales in Mexico, Marin noted. “A cross between Travelocity and Groupon,” the Jalisco Travel Channel would allow users to make reservations and take advantage of discounts.
Marin and two associates first conceived the concept in 2008, but they didn’t start working to refine it until last December. “It is still in the development stage,” Marin says. “We are looking for an investor who can put between three and five million pesos ($228,000 to $380,000 US) into the project.”
Patent Seminar for Startups
Also of interest to many local startups and entrepreneurs, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) is hosting a free seminar on how to patent inventions developed on computers at the University of Guadalajara Center for Economic and Administrative Sciences (CUCEA) campus on Aug. 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This story first appeared in Global Delivery Report