Conxto – A young Mexican entrepreneur transforming corn waste into a low-calorie sugar recently won the fifth annual Venture de Chivas Regal startup competition in Amsterdam. Not even 30 years old, Javier Larragoiti defeated 20 international contenders and left with US$350 thousand in prize money.

In Summary

Larragoiti manages Xilinat, a startup that produces an eco-friendly sugar alternative with corp scraps. Besides being less invasive, the commodity also reduces the chance of developing diabetes and obesity.

Considering that Mexico produced over 22 million tons of corn in 2017, it’s safe to say that there’s still plenty to go around. In the end, the founder presented his pitch in front of thousands, including a panel of industry experts. Lo and behold, he walked away with top honors.

Judges included Alexandre Ricard, global CEO of Pernod Ricard, and Sonal Shah, executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. Others were the founder of Change Please that trains baristas, Cemal Ezel, and Zoe Saldana, actress and founder BESE. Her platform tackles the lack of diversity in the media.


Moving forward, Larragoiti intends to modernize the production process to ensure optimal results. Another aspiration involves selling the product in Mexican stores, which would be essential for monetization.

In retrospect, this process has been four months in the making. Prior to the event, the innovator attended preliminary training in London where he learned how to present his business pitch in English. During this time, he also received some mentoring.

Some of the other top-ranking participants were:


This Portuguese language platform connects users wanting to teach refugees or immigrants a new language. Developed by Hugo Aguiar and active in various European cities, participants can sign up to be tutors or even language learners.

Above all else, it values organic human interaction plus cross-cultural learning experiences.


Komal Ahmad from the United States attempts to solve world hunger with her startup by curbing food waste while providing incentives to do so. The company’s app allows businesses to donate excess food in addition to providing tax benefits and data for continual improvement.

This way, business partners can make more informed decisions regarding consumption. Even better, Copia’s app allows users to directly request trash pickup. Once everything has been recovered, the company helps partners track surplus on the dashboard.


The founder of this Dutch digital identity platform is Tey Al-Rjula, a Syrian refugee who lost all of his official documents after fleeing the civil war. Many in his situation have become “invisible people” without passports or birth certificates.

To remedy this, his service collaborates with governments, non-profits, and enterprises to verify people’s identities.


Martyna Sztaba from Poland launched this project this past year determined to transform tires and used rubber products into refurbished industrial projects. Not only is she promoting carbon emissions reductions but also sustainable design.

In conclusion, this seems like yet another worthy undertaking to someday implement around the world.