March 6, 2010
This past week entrepreneurs and VCs headed to Washington, D.C. to unite and rally support for the Startup Visa Act. The group met 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. The bill, introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in late February, would create a new type of visa for foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the U.S. The bill requires each entrepreneur to have a sponsoring U.S. 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.
Startup Visa was born last fall when Dave McClure, a venture capitalist and former software entrepreneur, organized a Geeks on a Plane tour for entrepreneurs to visit D.C. The group saw the opportunity to help generate additional jobs in the United States while also enabling high quality entrepreneurs to generate successful businesses. Since the initial D.C. trip, Dave and company have rallied support for the idea by leveraging social media technology – namely Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Dave McClure had this to say about the Act:
“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.”
Venture capitalist Brad Feld also made the trip to Washington, D.C. and had this to say:
“There are those special magic moments where Google happens, and if one of those is started from foreign entrepreneurs thanks to Startup Visa then the U.S. wins with new jobs.”
According to a recent BusinessWeek article:
Venture capitalists sometimes shy away from even compelling pitches from overseas startups in part because of visa-related hassles, says Jeff Clavier, a San Francisco-based angel investor. Of the 72 startups he’s funded in the past six years, four have had foreign chief executives, he says.
So the Startup Visa Act could really help to keep businesses in the United States which could foster new job creation. Critics argue that the program could offer loopholes to immigrants who may not really be successful entrepreneurs. But I would argue it is worth the risk if some percentage of these entrepreneurs can help the U.S. economy through. The risk is actually quite minimal considering the bill would not add any new visa’s to the current total – it’s really proposing a new way to use some of the currently under-utilized visa’s.
To learn more, watch this micro-documentary that features startup founder Eric Diep (maker of the popular Quizzes app on Facebook) and Eric Ries a blogger and (also co-founder of IMVU.com) talking about entrepreneurship, immigration, and the Startup Visa movement.
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