Alumni Spotlight: Juan Carlos Garcia
“Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur,” is a slogan for Juan Carlos Garcia WG99. We spoke with Amazon’s country director about how he considers working with the e-commerce pioneer as one “big startup,” the challenge of building his own “small startup,” and the overall technology and business scene in his native country. What follows is a transcript.
WHARTON MAGAZINE: How would you describe your responsibilities at Amazon?
JUAN CARLOS GARCIA: Given that the Amazon culture still preserves the startup spirit, you pretty much do everything, sometimes from scratch. My biggest responsibility is to look into the next big market and see what are the opportunities and risks, scope the project and lead the team that will implement the new country launch.
WM: What is the tech and e-commerce industry like in Mexico?
GARCIA: In terms of the Internet, we are still pretty much in Day 1. Especially in Mexico, where there is a big part of the population that is just entering the market as new Internet users. Most of them are very young and connecting through mobile devices, and that offers plenty of business opportunities. I have been doing e-commerce in Mexico for the past 15 years, and I can say that the momentum is there and customers are embracing the new ecosystem with companies such as Uber, WhatsApp, Waze and many others gaining the confidence of users.
WM: How about the business climate in Mexico?
GARCIA: I am seeing a lot of changes that include a big package of economic reforms starting to take place, and some of them will require some more time to mature. Even though the political climate can change, the country is enjoying the benefits of economic stability for nearly 20 years, customer spending is growing, and there is a big demographic bonus that we should take advantage from now until 2025.
WM: How do you manage an Amazon job and your own app startup?
GARCIA: There is a saying: “Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.” I have been doing different tech and financial startups for the past 15 years. Before joining Amazon, I started PagaMobil.com because I wanted to do something in the mobile payments spectrum. Having said that, it’s not easy, I see my job in Amazon as my “big startup” and PagaMobil as my pet project. I think that the key is to have great, experienced, co-founders whom you can trust and you don’t have to be there on everyday decisions.
WM: What’s been your most significant Wharton memory since you’ve graduated?
GARCIA: Definitively the Whalasa (Wharton Latin American Association) parties. During my MBA, I was blessed enough to meet a great group of incredible smart people who are very successful, but also know how to have fun. We became very close, and whenever we can we don’t miss the opportunity to stay in touch and continue celebrating our lifelong Wharton heritage. Last year, we had a great reunion party at Philly to commemorate our 15th year graduation, and it was one of the best moments ever. The best part of my Wharton memory has always been the people I met and will always be the best experience of my life.