Written by Taran Moriates, Endeavor Global.
Being a pioneer in the Latin American start-up ecosystem as the founder of one of Mexico’s first successful start-ups was not enough for Jimena Pardo. After spearheading Carrot, Mexico’s first car-sharing service, and bringing it to great heights over the course of her six-year tenure, Jimena is now returning to the entrepreneurial world to usher in the next generation of innovation. This time though, she will be an investor as part of the Mexican VC firm ALLVP, using her knowledge and experience to help the new-age founders build the great companies of the future that will continue pushing the progress of the region.
ALLVP has been intricately intertwined in Jimena’s story for the past decade. In 2011, Jimena’s main concern was deciding which school to attend for her MBA, but a chance encounter with Federico Antoni, the Founding Partner of ALLVP, altered her trajectory in a dramatic fashion. After immediately clicking at a lunch, Federico told her to come to his office the following Monday at 8 am. When she arrived, he introduced her to Diego Solorzano and convinced her to start her own company rather than attending graduate school.
This served as the ignition for Jimena to co-found Carrot, a car-sharing service aimed at alleviating the intense commuting problems in Mexico City, alongside Diego. “I wanted to make a high-impact company, not exactly building something that will give partners a lot of money, but actually have a social impact,” Jimena said. Federico and ALLVP continued to provide fuel to propel her forward towards this mission, serving as a close mentor and as a lead investor in two rounds that totaled over $30 million.
During these early days, Endeavor was also an influential champion and resource in Jimena’s and Carrot’s trajectory. “We could have never thrived without Endeavor,” Jimena said. “I think being a part of the Endeavor network was a key part of our launching and our whole journey.” Due to the proximity to Carrot’s office, she recalls walking down the street to Endeavor Mexico’s office and knocking on the door to ask for help whenever a problem would arise. She even established a second board for her company that consisted solely of mentors that she connected with through Endeavor. Rather than feeling the pressure of having everything figured out, as is more usual when talking with a board, this separate “Endeavor Board” served as an outlet for her to workshop ideas and express problems floating around in her head. “When we went to the Endeavor Board, it was like, ‘I need help, I don’t know how to solve this.’ So it was a mentor board created to share our vulnerability, dilemmas, and unanswered questions,” Jimena said.
These conjoining forces and the raw talent of Jimena and her team led to Carrot becoming one of Mexico’s first truly successful start-ups. After six years at the helm of this immense success, Jimena decided that she needed a break from the entrepreneurial chase. She evaluated the stage that the business was in at the time and decided that she was no longer the right person to take it to its next phase of growth. Once she stepped down, she went on to join Facebook.
She describes her time at Facebook as “rehab,” a decompression from the intense life of a scrappy entrepreneur and a place that provided stability after six years of building a company from the ground up. However, during her time at Facebook, she remained connected to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and always had one toe dipped into her former life. She would mentor up-and-coming entrepreneurs in her free time, sharing her expertise in product, go-to-market strategy, and growth. She would also stay tapped-in to the ecosystem through Federico, who would often share with her the exciting start-ups springing up in the region and how ALLVP was helping them succeed. “We would go to lunch often, and to tell you the truth, I would feel a little bit of FOMO [fear of missing out] because of the cool things happening in the entrepreneur world,” Jimena said.
Eventually, this world fully lured her back in, culminating in Federico asking her to join them at ALLVP, either as an entrepreneur or an investor. Through her experiences of mentoring, Jimena realized which direction her heart steered at that moment: “I found myself wishing I could actually invest in these founders, not only with my time, but with capital that could empower them.”
Thus, she decided to immerse herself in the entrepreneurial scene once again, but this time in a different capacity — wiser, more experienced, and most importantly, as an investor rather than a founder. She will now be a Partner at the same VC firm that first took a chance on her and work alongside one of her most fervent champions from the start, Federico. This full-circle journey made her reflect on those that helped her arrive at the place she is at today and what kind of figure she wants to be in this next wave of her career.
“We were very inexperienced [when starting Carrot]… But as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, we were standing on the shoulders of giants,” Jimena said. “So, we never started from scratch because we could count on experienced mentors.”
Thanks to these giants lifting her up, Jimena is now a giant herself in the ecosystem, and she hopes to return the favor by propping up the next generation of entrepreneurs upon her experienced shoulders and elevating them upwards towards heights that would otherwise be unattainable. And since her path towards becoming one of these giants was through enduring the hardships of climbing the entrepreneurial mountain firsthand, she will be able to more effectively perform this empowerment and more profoundly connect to others on the rigorous journey.
“That’s one thing that I also have for the entrepreneurs that I’m not sure all my VC colleagues have: I have so much empathy for the entrepreneurs because I’ve been there,” Jimena said. “And they’re actually heroes. The people who actually decide to take that jump and take that risk and take that amount of work, they do deserve our respect.”
Jimena is entering a much different start-up landscape in Mexico and Latin America as a whole than when she started Carrot 10 years ago. When she began building her company, the start-up and venture capital ecosystem in the region was still quite nascent. In 2011, only $469 million poured into start-ups in Mexico. But, thanks to companies like Carrot and entrepreneurs like Jimena, who blazed the way forward and showed that success was possible in the region, the ecosystem has dramatically accelerated. Now, there are 6 unicorns in Mexico alone and over 30 across Latin America. Also, there was nearly $19.6 billion invested in Latin American start-ups in 2021.
As a pioneer who helped jumpstart this rapid growth, Jimena is now setting her eyes on what is next for the region and how she can play a part in bringing it to reality. Ultimately, her dream is to create an environment rife with opportunity where anyone in Latin America with a big idea is able to confidently and successfully launch a company like in other areas of the world such as Silicon Valley. “I think that is the greatest legacy: To be building the innovation hub to solve the Latin American problems in the region,” she said.
Jimena is raising the bar for what it means to be a successful entrepreneur. Rather than big funding announcements or exits, she is showing that the true measure of success is giving back and shepherding those who follow in her footsteps, guiding them with lessons that only experience can teach, and empowering them to build companies that alleviate a problem for the everyday people in the region. From founder to investor, Jimena Pardo is at the nexus of Latin American innovation, and the spokes spreading outwards from her influence will only continue to multiply.