Brenda Hernández Jaimes
If there’s one thing I love, it’s seeing my Latino community thrive and it’s even more beautiful to see my friends’ career flourish. My high school friend, Julio César Ramírez, found success where many people seldom dare to tread. Not many resign from a full-time job and a steady paycheck to dive into the unknown of opening their own business. He did just that. Alongside his business partner, Luis Eder Bayuelo Gonález, they were able to co-found and grow Rasca Mapas, a map business that ultimately was able to obtain an investment of 1.5 million pesos in Shark Tank México.
This success story didn’t happen overnight and it hadn’t been Julio’s first goal to become an entrepreneur. His dream upon studying Communication at The Acatlán School of Higher Education of The National Autonomous University of Mexico was to be a sports journalist.
“I love football a lot and my team is Cruz Azul. It was always my dream to work in sports media and it’s something that I’ve always loved, but things change. You realize that even though you love something that might not be your path. Then you start to see more for your interests, for what you think and feel that will work. My dream of being a sports journalist went down the drain when I went to university,” Julio laughs. “I no longer liked that the Mexican media paid poorly and being a journalist here is unprofitable. That's why I decided to specialize in digital marketing and focus on organizational communication. You grow as time goes by, you prepare yourself and that’s where Eder and I are taking it for now.”
Julio and Eder met while studying Communication at FES Acatlán UNAM and it was January of 2017 when Eder created his version of scratch-off maps. Even though this product is well known in the American market, Mexico at the time offered very few options and without territorial boundaries. Eder took it upon himself to create scratch-off maps with a division of the 2,558 municipalities that are in the Mexican Republic and with that, the company Rasca Mapas was born.
“Eder suddenly went to Cuba on vacation, without asking permission, and his job fired him,” Julio says. “All the liquidation that he received from his job was used to create the design of the maps and produce prototypes. He called me in December to join him and I said yes. I wasn’t losing anything and I gave my investment. He then called me early in the morning in January and said, ‘I can’t do this alone anymore. Quit your job at the marketing agency and come.’ And so I did, I quit,” he says with a smile.
“The idea exploded! Our idea was that we would only sell 50 maps to recover everything we invested, but we sold 5 thousand just last year. The idea was to only recover our profit and investment and profit, but we saw that it had potential and from there Rasca Mapas was truly born,” he declares.
Rasca Mapas proudly has two goals, promote national tourism and make the learning process of geography more fun for children and young people. Their maps are sold for $500 pesos and they offer maps with Mexican municipalities, countries of the world and they currently have scratched off maps for Mexico’s 121 Pueblos Mágicos. Rasca Mapas wants you to Check-in Real Life and keeps track of all the places you’ve visited during your life.
“We’ve always had the idea of contributing towards something positive to the welfare of Mexico and our product may not have so much a social impact, but it has managed to encourage domestic tourism. Our main motto is to encourage domestic tourism and as a Mexican, you should know your country first before traveling to Europe and not only know the beaches like Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta but also know the Pueblos Mágicos and its incredible gastronomic and cultural experience,” Julio says.
He also shares that the vision for Rasca Mapas is to introduce their product in the American market and a medium-term goal is to transfer their physical maps to digital and create an app. This would also go in a place with their future projects of participating with companies or forging alliances with the Mexican government to create a tourism campaign.
Now that they’ve received 1.5 million pesos in investment from Mexican entrepreneurs: General Director of Grupo Financiero Value, Carlos Bremer and CEO of Startup México, Marcus Dantus, the projects of Rasca Mapas are closer to becoming reality. Originally Rasca Mapas was going to participate in the third season of Shark Tank México - but the company only had a month and half of operations under their belt. Luckily they were able to appear in season four. Julio and Eder agreed with Bremer to start working on kiosks in shopping centers to increase their maps position. The founder of Genomma Lab, Rodrigo Herrera, offered them to get their product duty free at the stores of the airports in the Mexican Republic. While Marcus Dantus and Patricia Armendáriz offered them a meeting to see how they could help them.
“It’s very gratifying to follow the advice of the most important entrepreneurs in Mexico. It’s a unique learning experience. We recently had a meeting with Arturo Elías Ayub at his office and he advised us many ideas for us to implement and many business ideas to monetize more of. It’s taking them into account because he’s such a qualified person! All are very good, but the lesson is to not get stuck, you have to keep innovating because if you don't keep learning then you either create or die,” Julio says.
One of the many ways that Julio keeps learning and updating his skills is to visit entrepreneurship events and conferences where he can meet other young Mexican entrepreneurs to share ideas and advice.
“As an entrepreneur, I feel I have a responsibility with my country because it’s not only creating something from my mind, but that we’re all able to create something and materialize it. The entrepreneurship industry in Mexico is developing and we’ve met people who want to make a change in Mexico. Meeting them in these events helps you a lot, from listening to their advice and having mentors helping you. You meet people with the same passion as you - and they might not sell much, but they believe in their project and they believe in themselves and it's a very good community because we all support each other,” Julio gushes. “We understand each other very well and you know that you’re not alone, that you’re not the only one who thinks the same way or that you have zero pesos in your bank account! It motivates you to work with a sense of happiness and constantly believe in your project. That’s when you realize that the ideas from Mexicans are all incredible,” he states proudly.
As for the future of Rasca Mapas, Julio is happy to announce they recently met up with the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico City to propose experiences around their scratch-off maps that will be released in Easter Break of 2020.
“The next step for us is to not only sell maps and make videos, but also encourage an experience where several businesses, companies, and the government participate. We’re planning to make a rally so you can begin a tour of Mexico City’s 16 delegations. You have your map and go to the places that are marked on the map. We want to create that experience and movement within the city of not only visiting Downtown, but to know all of Mexico City and its delegations,” Julio says.
He also encourages any young person in starting their own business to just do it. We live in the digital era where everyone can learn and prepare themselves through online and videos on YouTube. Excuses are not knowing how to gain skills is no longer the wall that is stopping us to create.
“I believe that the next generation, and we’re seeing how children are born with cell phones and it seems it’s another part of their body,” Julio laughs. “They know how to take advantage of that!”
“I would have loved to have a department of entrepreneurship development that would have instilled the culture of teaching and advising you of the bases of creating your business. But if you have an idea, just do it. You don’t need the investment of millions of pesos to make your company. One thing Eder and I’ve been told is to always validate your product, create a prototype, sell it, and with that you start your company. Starting a business with money is different, but if you don’t have it, it’s not impossible. Many things can help you. You don't need to have thousands of pesos. It's having an idea and believing in it. Put into practice, leave the indecision behind, work it and don’t rest until it’s built. It’s all about consistency, not despairing, and having love for what you do.”
To purchase your Rasca Mapas visit rascamapas.com and follow them on all their social media platforms.
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