By Daniel T. Allen & Mark Abadi
Following is a transcript of a Business Insider video.
Memo Asiain, founder of Level Up Coaching: “It’s getting close to 11, so we got to go.”
Laptop, backpack, passport. Memo lives in one country but works in two.
Asiain: “Every time I cross, I mean every, every, every time, it doesn’t matter. I always get these goosebumps. I get this feeling that every time the officer say, ‘Go ahead.’ It’s like, I mean you get it out and say, ‘OK, I still have this privilege.'”
Today, he’s headed to his office in El Paso, Texas.
Asiain: “Day to day, it’s kind of, I don’t even call it El Paso or Juarez. I just say the border itself.”
His clients are based all over the world, but they have one thing in common. They all own factories in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Memo’s company, Level Up Coaching, helps manufacturers streamline production and retain workers. He believes that maintaining offices in both the US and Mexico is an important credential.
Asiain: “Saying that I’m a bi-national company, it gives the manufacturing industry, like they kind of relax and say, ‘OK, well, they’re not kids playing. They do business.’ So I think it validates a lot of the work.”
He’s taken his consulting business to the next level thanks to the Bridge Accelerator program for cross-border startups.
Asiain: “I had a coaching and consulting company, traditional company, non-technological. So I came to this place, and they were talking about technology, internet of things, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what’s that.'”
It gives local companies the skills they need to work with the multinational corporations that manufacture in Mexico.
Asiain: “Since then, I always said that we got a shot of technology into our veins.”
The Bridge program takes place in a coworking space that used to house the US consulate.
Ricardo Mora, founder of the Technology Hub: “So you walk into this office. This office still holds one of the exact windows that are bulletproof where people used to sit on this side and on the other side were the US, the people that work at the consulate.”
Ricardo Mora, a serial entrepreneur, founded the Technology Hub, or T-Hub, after nearly 30 years of doing business along the border.
Mora: “My first business venture was a hot dog stand. I actually grew that hot dog stand to three hot dog stands, and that was my very first venture. I sold out of it. So I believe the border brought this entrepreneurship thing into my being, and that’s where we saw an opportunity.”
After opening a successful chain of mobile phone stores, Mora wanted to give back by cultivating a new generation of entrepreneurs. He took a cue from Silicon Valley.
Mora: “We learned about all these incubators in different spaces that they offer, and we said, ‘Well, why don’t we create something that can hold our companies and also add value to other companies that want to start growing an ecosystem for our city?'”
One of the Bridge program’s first graduates, based in the northeast of El Paso, is already seeing an uptick in business.
Rafael Hernandez, founder of Slined Inc.: “This is where our magic takes place. I’m going to mention like that.”
Rafael Hernandez is the founder of Slined, a company that designs high-tech assembly lines.
Hernandez: “Well, now with the relations with the people we know on the Bridge and the tools that we have been taking place, it’s helping us to grow our business.”
He was able to double his target sales growth in 2019 through connections he made at the Accelerator.
Hernandez: “This is the final product. We are going to package and send this equipment to Mexico, to Juarez. You are going to see our equipment on the assembly floor of the maquiladoras.”
In the past, factories used to mostly recruit manual laborers, but as manufacturing technology has advanced, so has the need for skilled labor. Memo’s company uses data to help manufacturers retain workers.
Asiain: “When we starting receiving mentoring from Technology Hub, we were able to adopt new technology, such as big data, and now, today, that’s the bigger part of our business, just analyzing data and impacting manufacturing plants with data, and that’s something we didn’t have in the past.”
Since incubating his company at Technology Hub, Memo has added 16 new employees and increased his sales by nearly 20-fold.
Asiain: “You really connect yourself with the right people, just paying it forward instead of hoping to receive, just pay forward whatever you can, and it’s going to come back. So that’s the power of collaboration in the Bridge and in the ecosystem, too.”