Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city with a population of approximately four million people, has been christened “Mexico’s Silicon Valley” (and with good reason). Boasting a fusion of colonial architecture and modern infrastructure, the city has grown into a burgeoning technology hub with co-working spaces and a thriving startup scene.
This will also probably come as a surprise to most Mexicans because they know the city as the source of mariachi bands and good tequila. So it’s not exactly the image of the R&D hotbed Guadalajara has grown into.
Relatively untouched by the rise of violence in the country, the capital of the state of Jalisco has managed to attract multinationals who want to capitalize on the sheer number of top tech talent available in the city.
All these ingredients mixed together have created a dynamic location for nearshore software development. Don’t believe me? Well, you won’t be the first!
Regardless of the reservations and biases, people might have, the case for Guadalajara, Mexico as the best city for nearshore development is strong.
It’s culturally similar to the US, closer to Silicon Valley than (let’s say) New York City, and a highly cost-effective city to develop applications.
Guadalajara is home to some of the best universities in Latin America, including Mexico’s second largest university, the University of Guadalajara.
There are also several smaller private universities like ITESO, Monterrey Institute of Technology (or Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), and Universidad Panamericana (and all of them have highly reputable technology programs).
These academic institutions along with others in the country produce more STEM graduates per capita than the US.
Guadalajara also has a thriving and diverse economy that’s driven by industries like automotive, agriculture, biotech, and IT. Within the state of Jalisco, the city is also home to 62% of the IT workforce.
At present, Guadalajara supports two high-tech incubators, four R&D centers, 35 design centers, and a number of software centers.
Tech giants like Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and Oracle have all established a presence in the city. These corporations have invested heavily in the area and have hired not only locally, but internationally.
With a thriving startup scene, a lot of software development firms are born in the region. So this also makes Guadalajara ripe for nearshore development.
The presence of tech giants in Jalisco’s capital can be attributed to government subsidies and lower wages. The existence of two airports (including the third busiest airport nationwide) makes it easy to come and go during the course of a project.
Together with local industry leaders, the state government is also trying to accelerate growth in the region with the creation of a fast-track visa program. Known as the “Tech Visa” program, this initiative promises to provide visas to those hoping to take advantage of Mexico’s Silicon Valley within 24 hours for just $36.
This visa is also complemented by two initiatives known as the “Digital Bridge” and “Soft Landing.” Both of these government programs were created to help newcomers rapidly integrate into the fabric of Jalisco life. The primary focus of these initiatives are education and housing services.
When it comes to top talent in the western region, Guadalajara is where you’ll find it. This is the primary reason why the state is home to 40% of Mexico’s tech industry.
At present, there are about 650 specialized companies in the state creating over 100,000 jobs for the 7.9 people who live in Jalisco. With the average age hovering around 25 years, the future is bright for Mexico’s second city.
With every new startup that pops up in the city, new jobs are also created. However, competition isn’t as fierce since the universities provide graduates who want to continue to live there.
This is evidenced by the presence of 12 universities and 16 technology institutes in the state that produces 8,160 technical and engineering graduates (with almost 6,000 specialized in high-tech) every year.
As alluded to at the beginning of the article, Guadalajara is close to major North American cities (and has a similar time zone). Guadalajara also has direct flights to most major North America cities that are highly cost-effective.
Because of its proximity to the US, it doesn’t take that long to go there. For example, you can fly from San Francisco to Guadalajara within three and a half hours. So whenever a Skype call just won’t suffice, you can hop over for a meeting and get back in time for dinner.
If you want to fly into Guadalajara from Chicago, it won’t take more than four hours and 15 minutes. However, it’ll be a bit longer, say eight to ten hours, to fly to major metropolitan cities in Canada.
Some of Mexico’s top tech events are also headquartered in Guadalajara. Local Campus Party and Talent Land attract some of the best minds in the country.
There is also an opportunity to learn from leading international professionals (and industry celebrities) who speak and run workshops at these events or make connections with top tech talent and network with other participants who share similar interests.
Guadalajara also supports some of the largest technology communities in the world that meet on a monthly basis.
Some of these groups are as follows:
As an IT hub, R&D hotbed, and rapidly growing nearshoring destination, all the signs point to a bright future. While Guadalajara may not be the obvious choice for some, you can bet it will be synonymous with technological innovations in the years to come.