How a 26-year old is Democratising E-Commerce in Mexico

Adriana Galue profiles Cristina Randall, one of the boldest and most innovative young entrepreneurs in Mexico. Part of The NextWomen 'LATAM' Theme.

Last year, whilst on a consulting trip to the incredible metropolis known as Mexico City, I had the opportunity to engage with several interesting entrepreneurs. They were all young, highly motivated and with a high degree of business skill. 

One of the most interesting examples was Cristina Randall, a Canadian software engineer from the University of Waterloo, Co-founder of Conekta, a transaction platform for Mexico. Conekta optimizes payments and shipping for the small and medium size business. 

Meeting Cristina reminded me of the spirit that I think today’s entrepreneur needs to embrace in order to succeed.

A spirit geared towards conquering markets that might initially be thought of as being outside our comfort zone. As someone who lived in Canada for almost 14 years, I can attest to the fact that this wonderful country teaches you how to become a global citizen. 

During her studies, Cristina met both of her Co-founders, Hector Cardenas and Leo Fisher. Knowing the tremendous opportunity present in LATAM, she decided to relocate to Mexico in order to create her company. Born in Mexico, Hector became in charge of business development and marketing.

Originally envisioned as a Yelp with a Mexican twist, Conekta began operations at the end of 2011. The team gradually began assembling a small and medium size business database. It is estimated that as of the end of 2011, Mexico had close to six million small businesses alone.

To my surprise, I learned that most of these businesses don’t have an online presence, nor are there complete databases where to find these companies listed. 

Conekta’s database accumulated over 1.2 million Mexican businesses. This is when the company discovered that the largest opportunity was not centered around becoming the Mexican Yelp but on becoming the Shopify of the region. In 2012 the company pivoted to what it is today: the platform of choice for the small and medium size business in need of having a creative, powerful and easy to use online presence. 

When creating Conekta, Cristina and her team tropicalized Shopify. They decided to place special attention to logistics and payment optimization. By creating intelligent partnerships with Estafeta, OXXO and Banorte among others, merchants are able to optimize shipping and payment options, making it really simple to transact. Before Conekta, small and medium size businesses had no compelling way to optimize their e-commerce process.

What I find clever about a venture such as Conekta is the way they tropicalized a pre-existing concept such as Shopify. 

Mexico is a country where the majority of transactions for the average consumer still occur in cash. A brand such as PayPal has yet to conquer a significant market share. Interestingly enough, the brand has failed so far to position itself as a trusted alternative to transacting in cash. Working in partnership with the retail chain OXXO, Conekta found a way to optimize the payment option by allowing cash transactions to take place. By bringing a local shipping partner such as Estafeta, they were able to become a one-stop choice for the small & medium size owner in need of a simple yet powerful e-commerce solution.

In my opinion, Cristina is a true example of entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. Did I mention that she is only 26 years old?

You can find Cristina at @clrandall.

Based in Boulder, CO Adriana Galue, started working with web startups following a career in Neuroscience. She is truly passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. In addition to owning a consulting company, Adriana teaches seminars in entrepreneurship applied to technology in several South American universities. For more info on Adriana, see her profile.

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