Bismarck Lepe, Wizeline: Building world-class startups from Mexico and Silicon Valley, Ep 141

Bismarck Lepe was part of the first batch of entrepreneurs to leave Google, ready to take the world by storm. And that he did. His first startup was Ooyala, an online video platform company that he built from zero to a $400M exit. 

Today, a seasoned entrepreneur, Bismarck is President and CEO at Wizeline, a global product development company that helps its clients solve their biggest challenges with design and technology. 

I sat down with Bismarck to talk about his nomadic childhood between the US and Jalisco in Mexico and how he veered from wanting to study medicine to taking an interest in tech startups and eventually founding his own. We also discuss the harsh truths about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how Guadalajara’s tech ecosystem has evolved over the years. 

Stories around entrepreneurship in the media

Bismarck explains that being the first is always the hardest. When Bismarck launched Ooyala’s operations in Guadalajara in 2010, attracting talent was a challenge. Most engineers wanted to work at more established companies like IBM, Oracle or HP. He explains that there was a shift in that mentality as more startup stories began to be featured in the media. 

Learn more about how these stories shaped the local ecosystem and served as inspiration for the next generation of talent in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Being penny-wise and pound-foolish

When reflecting on his trajectories with Ooyala and Wizeline, Bismarck comments on the importance of knowing when to hire. He explains that there are certain roles in a company that a founder must fill in the early stages of the business. Delegating these too early can slow down the iterative process that finding product-market fit requires.

Find out why outsourcing too early can be harmful to a company in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Turning inefficiencies into opportunities

As the son of two immigrants who moved from Mexico to the US, it hadn’t crossed Bismarck’s mind to go back in search of opportunities. However, a recruiting trip with his team to Guadalajara quickly changed that. Since then, Bismarck has played a key role in transforming Jalisco’s capital city into one of Mexico’s largest tech hubs.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Guadalajara’s ecosystem has evolved over the years.

Bismarck Lepe is a household name in Guadalajara’s and Silicon Valley’s tech ecosystem due to the various initiatives he has led in the city to foster innovation and tech talent. Through Wizeline, he is transforming the way companies build better products faster.

Outline of this episode:

  • [1:46] – About Wizeline
  • [3:30] – The vision behind the expansion plan
  • [5:10] – Bismarck’s nomadic upbringing
  • [6:38] – On building wealth
  • [8:29] – Entrepreneurship in the media
  • [10:40] – From medicine to startups
  • [13:04] – Leaving Google
  • [14:02] – Lessons learned from starting, building, scaling, and selling a business
  • [16:33] – Advice on dealing with boards
  • [17:54] – The Telstra deal
  • [20:00] – Starting the next company
  • [22:34] – What it takes to be successful
  • [26:25] – Guadalajara’s tech ecosystem 
  • [32:55] – Advice to Bismarck’s younger self
  • [34:25] – Books, blogs, & podcast recommendations
  • [35:20] – What’s next for the companies?

Resources & people mentioned:

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