Distinguish your business from others, be more competitive and shake the market are the goals of any company. How to achieve it? Through innovation And you don’t need to be a genius or discover the black thread. It is about doing things in a different way, and one way to achieve this is to use 4.0 technologies: artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, blockchain, machine learning, cloud computing, among others. Think of it this way: without these technologies, today from your cell phone you could not order an Uber, shop on Amazon or watch a Netflix movie. Taxis, shopping and movies have always existed, but these “are new business models enabled by technology, which makes it possible for things to happen much faster”, says Baltazar Rodríguez, blockchain leader at IBM Mexico.
In Mexico, more and more companies are beginning to transform digitally, that is, to adopt 4.0 technologies. In fact, the country ranks fourth among 40 economies that have most welcomed these technologies, mainly in corporate ones, according to the Digital Transformation Index prepared by Dell. Small and medium-sized Mexican companies (SMEs) continue to lag, since only 23% have started digitizing their processes, according to the IDC consultancy. If not, 25% could disappear within seven years, according to the Mexican Association of the Information Technology Industry (AMITI).
For this reason, says Baltazar Rodríguez, it is necessary to continue making efforts to democratize technology, that is, that entrepreneurs can implement it more easily and at a lower cost. “They don’t need to have advanced knowledge to use it. The most important thing is not to understand how technology works, but what you can do with it in your company”.
If your organization still does not achieve digital transformation, we invite you to learn about the history of four startups of Mexican origin that can inspire you to improve your business model.
Get ready now! because you may need to implement more than one of these technologies, because sometimes one needs the other to improve and be better.
Nowports: modernize freight transport
Alfonso de los Ríos grew up surrounded by the large-scale cargo transportation business his family had. When he met his Peruvian partner Maximiliano Casal at Stanford University, both talked about how to solve the problem of transparency in this sector, because 50% of the goods are lost in the transfer.
Thus the idea of founding Nowports in 2018, a Mexican startup that imports and exports containers from anywhere in Latin America to Europe or Asia, and from anywhere in the world to the American continent.
The entrepreneurs left their jobs in the United States to go to Mexico City. With a Power Point presentation they started looking for customers. They explained their idea and listened to their needs.
Today, any company, even SMEs, can transport merchandise through Nowports intuitively, safely and up to 70% faster.
This startup connects customers, suppliers, customs agents, ports and shipping companies in the same platform that acts as an intermediary. This, in order to make processes less cumbersome and more transparent with the help of blockchain and its platform.
In addition, it uses a technology called natural language processing (which is a branch of artificial intelligence) to send and receive documents up to 300 times faster, compared to the two or three days it would take for a person to do it manually.
This means that all the writings they receive by email related to shipments are automatically uploaded to the platform they designed, and it is responsible for interpreting the data to respond immediately, 24 hours a day. They can even predict the arrival time of the merchandise and how much it will cost the customer to transport it.
Alfonso accepts that this mechanism has a minimum margin of error, since not all documents have the same format, but can analyze between 400 and 500 documents per hour. If an error occurs, they try to adjust the final rate as close to the initial budget. “We promise to service 30 days before at an estimated price, in an industry that has a variation of 300 to 400 dollars every 15 days.”
Technology-based startups are offering services to SMEs, since only 25% have started digitizing their processes.
Nowports offers a merchandise insurance policy in which they charge the customer a commission on the total value of the items that are moved, in case there is an incident in the transfer. In fact, the user can see in real time where his cargo is through geolocators, and in this way be certain of who to be responsible if he suffers damage or is lost on the road.
The startup charges a commission for each container it carries, depending on the route and volume. Its target are companies that move international cargo, between 6% and 7% of its customers are SMEs, which they plan to serve more easily. So far, Alfonso and Maximiliano have moved some 1,000 containers, but the goal for 2019 is to reach 10,000.
They already have offices in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Uruguay, and raised $ 5.3 million in the Y Combinator accelerator. “Our goal is to become the largest digital system for logistics teams in the world.”
Illutio: more enriching experiences
It all started as part of an academic project. Eduardo and Brian Juárez Leyva studied the creation and development of companies (LCDE) at the Tec de Monterrey, and chose the use of augmented reality (RA) to do a final project. Eduardo had been in exchange in South Korea and was familiar with the use of this technology.
In 2013, the demo they had made for the university used it to enter the Space Apps Challenge hackathon, organized by NASA, and gained a three-month acceleration at the Tec de Monterrey campus Guadalajara. At the end of that process they got their first client: an exhibition of Yachts in Monaco, thanks to a website where they offered the RA solution.
With this first client, they decided to establish the company and dedicated themselves to improving the augmented reality solution through an administration panel, which allows creating, publishing and managing content without the need for programming or design skills.
They offered consultancy to corporations such as Samsung or Quálitas and then approached marketing agencies, through which they obtained other clients such as Coca-Cola and the newspaper El País. In addition, they created their own competition by giving the software to agencies and other applications. “The more people use the technology the faster the adoption will be and our business will grow.”
In 2018, after several years of learning and development, Illutio launched its first product in Beta version: RA CAM, which is a mixture of all augmented reality technologies in a single application: it has facial, image, surface recognition and geolocation. Thus they validated their business model with its own product that solves the main problems of the client.
With the RA CAM they gained an acceleration in Silicon Valley for four months, which helped them to structure the company: the number of employees was defined, how to hire the best staff, automate processes and charge better, Eduardo explains.
Although there are few competitors in the market, Illutio says that its great differentiator is to offer its customers to program their own augmented reality application as easy as uploading videos to YouTube. “You enter the panel, upload the image, select the video or upload the animation and in 5 minutes it is published in RA CAM or the application you have. You don’t need to have any extra knowledge or skill, you can do it in real time and you have analytics of the users’ behavior with the campaign”.
For the service of the platform to create campaigns a monthly rent is paid that goes from 199 to 599 dollars. Today they have 25 clients in Mexico, Honduras, Colombia and Panama, in addition to some countries in Europe. In the first half of 2019 they exceeded their goal of the year to grow 3x. In the short term, its objective is to establish itself throughout Latin America.
Prysmex: factory safety
Susana Ruiz is a chemical engineer, and her partner, Patricio de Villa, is a civil engineer. Both knew the dangers that workers live in different plants every day such as construction, manufacturing and mining, among others, so they decided to devise a wearable taking advantage of the internet of things to prevent accidents and even diseases in industrial facilities .
The result was Prysmex, an intelligent helmet that monitored in real time the conditions in which a person worked in a plant, such as
extreme temperatures, lighting and noise. Even if the employee suffered an accident, this device issued an alert for help. But market needs led them to pivot the idea and change direction.
“We realized that we were not scalable with this device because it was very expensive. And we saw that there was a much more essential need inside the plants: risks that we could avoid and improve by digitizing the processes”, says Susana.
Then, together with his other partner, Luis Eduardo Garza, they created software that allows companies to see in real time the activity of their plant on a 3D map, to identify risks, to know where workers or visitors are.
They digitized security management processes, saving time and resources. For this, companies must install the software in a special place and workers have to download an app on their smartphone or smartwatch to report in real time the tasks they perform, mechanical failures or everything that puts their security at risk, whether through image (photo, video), voice.
Susana explains that reports to strengthen industrial security automatically reach the software so that someone else can track and save lives. “The mission is to reduce accidents, but it does not depend on the software, but on the proper processes being carried out at the plant”.
In addition, the startup uses a 3D modeling team to make a virtual version of the facilities of the plants as if it were a three-dimensional model, which is done by taking videos with drones to map the exterior. This is the map that companies can see and monitor.
Prysmex customers are rmas of the manufacturing, steel, cement, automotive, among others, which pay an average of $ 1,500 per month per plant in exchange for a software license, depending on the size and number of employees.
More than 15 companies already use Prysmex software, such as Gold Fields (one of the largest gold mining companies in the world). Deacero, Corona and Cemex (the cement company that allowed them to validate the smart helmet in their plants and gave them investment through Cemex Ventures). For now, Prysmex only operates in Mexico, but its creators are already planning their entry into the United States.
Susana says they still have a long way to go. He even anticipates that they will continue to propose this solution with more technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence or wearables, to the extent that the plant can come to life in the software and predict possible accidents. “The goal is to help companies make better decisions and save lives.”
100 Bricks: live off your income
Hugo Blum is a serial entrepreneur: in 2005 he co-founded Kapital Financiera, a traditional finance company, and nine years later he co-founded the silver form of collective financing Yotepresto.com. After these experiences in the financial sector, he turned to see the use of the blockchain and how it opens up possibilities for the masses.
Then, taking advantage of the fact that among their clients there was interest in investing, it occurred to them that they could contribute a property to a bank trust and it would issue titles or certificates of real estate participation in digital form (what they call bricks) that could be exchanged.
Thus emerged 100 Bricks, a marketplace where you can buy and sell fractions of real estate that generate income and surplus value. “We dream of democratizing the trend of real estate as an asset that generates and protects people’s wealth,” he says.
How does the technology work? When a property is contributed to the trust, it issues the titles or certificates of real estate participation in digital form with the electronic signature of all those involved, which allows them to be delivered immediately. In the traditional world, certificates are printed, they carry the autograph of everyone and this paper is guarded somewhere, in a process it can last up to two months.
Before the blockchain you could issue legal documents that were digitally valid with the electronic signature, but this technology gives them three new features: uniqueness (the digital document is unique and they cannot give you copy paste); endorsable, (I endorse it again and pass it to you), and transferable (I can deliver it to you wherever you want).
In summary, in 100 Bricks you get a part of a property with a document legally validated by the electronic signature and with the assurance that there is only one. “For the first time in life you can have a real estate transaction in fractions, instantly and without cost, you do not have to pay lawyers or notaries and it is free of encumbrance.”
The 100 Bricks business model works through the collection of a commission of 3 to 4.5% for selling each brick and between 4 and 9% when an income is charged. “When you have an investment in bricks you can receive income, sell it or even leave it as collateral to get a loan with an online finance company or a bank”.
To start investing in 100 Bricks you need from 25,000 pesos and you can start living on your income. Today they manage 200 million pesos in properties and expect the next two years to have at least 1,000 million pesos in value of properties, located in commercial, industrial and office areas in Guadalajara, Querétaro, Tijuana, Monterrey and Mexico City.
The startup is in the process of requesting registration under the new Fintech Law as a collective funding institution in the co-ownership modality.
Also published on Medium.