Tag Archives: StartupVisa

To execute on the idea of Startup Visa in DC, should the startup community support the DREAM Act?

In January 2012, President Obama said in his State of the Union:

But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive [immigration] plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country.  Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship.  I will sign it right away.

The translation of this is that the President supports a ‘minimum viable policy package’ containing STEM Green Cards (“staff our labs”), Startup Visa (“start new businesses”), and the DREAM Act (“defend this country”).

The impact of this proposal would be the following:

  • Graduate with an advanced technical degree from a US university: get a green card ‘stapled‘ to your diploma
  • Create startup jobs, build a great company: get a visa, fast track to a green card
  • Enlist in the military, serve honorably: get a visa, fast track to a green card, including undocumented immigrants

Should the startup community back this proposal? We’ve clearly supported STEM and Startup Visa in the past. The word from Washington is that those individual bills are too narrow to be viable—features, not products—the market of politicians won’t support them as is, thus the minimum viable policy package.

We, the community, need to decide if there is enough overlap with military service for us to support. The Bloomberg Administration of NYC and their Partnership for a New American Economy calls for chasing after the ‘best, brightest, and hardest working’ immigrants.

I think they and we should both support this package as a way to promote entrepreneurship and continue to make sure America remains the leader in innovation and monetization of great ideas and products.

White House ask: Tell us your startup story

The White House has an ask out to the startup community: how is your startup doing? What are some of the struggles you’ve faced and overcome?

For new founders in the past two years, tell the White House what being a new entrant to the startup world has been like. What networks have helped you? What have you most struggled with learning and adapting to?

For founders struggling with visa issues, why not take two minutes to share your story, explaining the need for Startup Visa?

“We would like to hear your story about how your business has done over these last 25 months. Please take a few minutes and share it here. These stories are critical to our policy work — so thank you.

As a reminder, yesterday, the White House signed the JOBS Act legislation that we supported and pushed through with over 5000 signatures on AngelList

“Yesterday, the President signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a bipartisan bill that enacts many of the President’s proposals to encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses. The JOBS Act will allow “crowdfunding” so startups and small businesses can raise up to $1 million annually from many small-dollar investors through web-based platforms, expand “mini public offerings”and create an “IPO on-ramp,” making it easier for young, high growth companies to go public. Read all about the JOBS Act here.”

Next up: Immigration, Startup Visa

The Story of an Immigrant Entrepreneur

Passageways Inc. is the 27th fastest growing software company in the United States. Based in Purdue University’s Research Park, the company employs 28 people (including 24 US citizens), has over 200 customers and contributes significantly to the local and state economy. Paroon Chadha was one of the two co-founders of the company, and his story is indicative of the issues faced by immigrant entrepreneurs across the country.

“I came to the US in 1999 for an MBA, which is where I met my fellow co-founder, Christopher Beltran. Together we started working on the first business plan for Passageways. Almost immediately, the idea took off. We won at a prestigious business plan competition at Purdue University in my first year, and got convinced to pursue this opportunity full-time after school.

However, my visa situation was tenuous. After graduation, I was allowed to work for a year on this project, after which I would have to get sponsorship from another employer for my H-1B visa. All initial discussions with potential investors were tainted by this uncertainty. To delay the start of the 1 year ticking clock, I took a year off from school as well.

Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union became our first paying customer. In fact, they were so impressed with the product that they agreed to invest $100,000 in our company as seed funding. We spent thousands of dollars of our precious seed capital to explore visa opportunities that would enable me to start my own company, but our attorneys came up empty.

Finally, we worked out a compromise. As part of the Operating Agreement, Purdue EFCU took majority ownership of my business and agreed to sponsor my H-1B application. The Operating agreement allowed for transferring back some equity to me (and Christopher) on meeting certain milestones.”

Paroon’s story is replicated across the country, as bright students continue to try and start their own businesses, only to stumble when it comes to getting a visa. Passageways has been profitable for 5 years running, and was recently named amongst the 50 companies to watch in Indiana. While Paroon was able to trade ownership in the business for a visa sponsorship, this hurdle is too difficult for several others to overcome.

“In 2004, Passageways applied for permanent residency for me, and I finally received my green card this year. For years, our annual strategic meetings listed my lack of permanent residency as amongst the top business risks for our company. It took me 7 years, 4 trips outside of the country solely to get visa renewals, and countless hours spent resolving paperwork that could have been spent focusing on growing my business.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have seen several other startups fall by the way side as they try and resolve the founder visa issue. This country is the only place where a business like mine could be so successful so fast. However, the immigration laws made it harder, and not easier, for me to achieve my entrepreneurial objectives.”

Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs & VCs Travel to DC to Promote Startup Visa Job Creation Bill

[For Immediate Release]

Grass-roots team behind StartupVisa.com to meet, brief representatives of White House, Senators, State & Commerce Departments, DHS, SBA

San Francisco, CA, March 2, 2010 — A group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will travel to Washington DC this week to promote the Startup Visa Act of 2010, legislation to spur job creation by enabling startup founders to bring new companies to the US, if they can demonstrate funding from US-based investors. The group plans to meet with a variety of federal representatives to brief them on the bill, including the White House, State Department, Commerce Department, DHS, SBA, and members of congress.

“Job creation is a national priority,” said Dave McClure, organizer of the trip and a venture capitalist and former software entrepreneur. “With the Startup Visa Act, we can create thousands of new jobs immediately, and tens of thousands more as these new startups grow into the next Googles, Yahoos, and eBays of their generation. It’s a huge win-win, and we’re traveling to DC to encourage the quick passage of this much-needed reform.”

The Startup Visa Act of 2010, introduced last week by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), would modify the existing EB-5 visa to enable job-creating entrepreneurs to immigrate to the United States. The bill requires each entrepreneur to have a sponsoring US venture capital or angel investor who will invest at least $100,000 in their startup, and total funds raised must be at least $250,000 per company. The legislation is supported by more than 150 venture capitalists and investors who signed a letter urging its passage. While in DC, the group will be meeting with members of Congress, The White House, Commerce Department, State Department and Small Business Administration, and bringing thousands of messages from voters around the country who support the bill.

The grass-roots effort to create the bill began last year, prompted by a blog post by Paul Graham of venture capital firm Y Combinator. Brad Feld, a venture capitalist with Foundry Group based in Colorado, took the next step and began promoting the idea on his website and blog. McClure and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Eric Ries and Shervin Pishevar then joined the effort by creating the StartupVisa.com website after a previous trip to DC by Silicon Valley geeks in September, and producing a video featuring Ries and Canadian entrepreneur Eric Diep, who had been unable to get a visa to start his company in the US. Feld worked together with congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) to draft legislation introduced in the House last fall, and was later joined by Kerry and Lugar in introducing similar legislation in the Senate last week.

As McClure and others joined in, the Startup Visa movement became an example of how technology innovation can inspire change, and quickly gathered thousands of supporters in just a few weeks. The group has relied solely on the use of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs to promote its ideas, and have generated over 2,000 letters in support from voters across the country. “There are no lobbyists, no campaign contributions, no PR agencies,” McClure said. “This is a 100% grass-roots movement of citizens who want to encourage job creation and innovation in the United States.”

“America and the American Dream has attracted the world’s immigrants and their dreams for centuries, ” said Shervin Pishevar. “Our country has been reinvigorated and reinvented by a stream of humanity from all parts of our world. Increasingly, it has become harder for the best and the brightest minds to come to America and write the next chapter of the America Story. The StartUp Visa Act is about winning the race for the very best of the world’s brains and startups who will in turn create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.”

Support Job Creation in the US by  Supporting StartupVisa.com!

###

[PR Contact Dave McClure – 650-743-4738 – dave.mcclure@gmail.com]

Senators Kerry & Lugar Introduce the Startup Visa Act in Washington, DC

We are thrilled to announce Senators John Kerry (D-MA) & Richard Lugar (R-IN) today introduced The Startup Visa Act in Washington.

The full text of the proposed legislation is here.

This new legislation is also supported by signatures from over 100 US venture capital and angel investors.

The Startup Visa Act proposes legislation to modify the existing EB-5 Visa in order to drive job creation in the US and increase American global competitiveness.  This would enable immigrant entrepreneurs who are creating new companies to secure visas to come to the United States, if there is investment capital available from a sponsoring US venture capital or angel investor of at least $100,000 in an equity financing of not less than $250,000.

Earlier legislation had been proposed last year by US Representative Jared Polis (D, CO-2), H.R. 4259, the Employment Benefit Act of 2009, also known as the StartupVisa.  Later, HR 4259 was included in the overall House Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

The folks here at StartupVisa.com are all very proud of this moment, and we ask for your support as the proposed Startup Visa Act legislation moves closer to a vote. We will provide more information from the sponsoring legislators as it becomes available.

Relevant documents are available below:

Make a Donation to StartupVisa.com!

Want to help the StartupVisa.com movement? Great!

Donate $50 to StartupVisa.com & make some change happen:
-> http://2gov.org/contribute

If you are a US Citizen, you may contribute $50 to support efforts to enact #StartupVisa legislation. These funds will be used to communicate the StartupVisa message and lobby candidates that support this cause. Reports of where the money is spent will be posted on http://2gov.org/contribute.  The amount is contributed anonymously; your name will not appear on any public documents, and @2gov will track donations internally to ensure you do not exceed the reporting threshold.

If you wish to contribute more than $50 or have other questions contact donate@2gov.org to explain other options and reporting requirements.

Thanks for your support!

Over 1,200 msgs to 160+ reps, 30+ states in support of StartupVisa!

The most recent Startup Visa tracking report from 2Gov.org shows:

  • 1,200+ messages sent
  • to 164 congressional representatives
  • in 33 states

… in only 5 days since the campaign began!

More info at 2Gov.org/visa.