Start-up success smoothens immigrant path to America
AUSTIN, Texas, USA (ECONOMYNEXT)– Entrepreneurs wanting to make it in the United States have a better chance if they can show success in starting companies and creating jobs there, say officials supporting startups and innovation in the country.
The US, a country built by immigrants, is particularly keen to encourage entrepreneurs who can build businesses and create more jobs, said Fred Schmidt, director of international at Capital Factory, a company that helps budding entrepreneurs and startups.
Schmidt started Capital Factory to meet the needs of immigrant entrepreneurs in America and to encourage them to choose this city in southern USA, emerging as one of the hottest innovation and startup spots in the country.
“I used to meet entrepreneurs arriving here – when I hear foreign accents, I naturally gravitated towards them,” recalled Schmidt, himself a Polish immigrant. “I found that nobody was helping these entrepreneurs start companies here.”
Capital Factory now gets customers from all over the world, especially technology firms, and provides a range of services for a fee and a minor equity stake in startups.
“What we do is to help entrepreneurs with legal matters, finance, getting visas, hiring staff, getting bank accounts, insurance,” Schmidt told reporters on a tour of US innovation and startup hubs organised by the US State Department’s Foreign Press Center.
“It helps people who want to immigrate if they can show success in setting up a company and creating jobs in the US,” said Smith. “The smoothest, lowest-cost route to entrepreneurs is what we do. You just have to know people who won’t overcharge.”
Immigrants have long been considered to have a disproportionate presence in American entrepreneurship, especially in the technology sector.
Austin is one of the cities with a thriving startup scene, with many programmes to help budding entrepreneurs, especially immigrants, hoping they will find solutions to current problems and create jobs. .
Top US companies like Dell, Apple, Qualcomm, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices and 3M have their headquarters or a presence in the city.
Immigrants account for about a quarter of entrepreneurs in the US, and studies show that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Famous American tech leaders like Tesla Motors’s Elon Musk, Google’s Sergey Brin and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar were born outside the US.
Laura Lorek, founder of Silicon Hills News, a magazine covering the tech sector in Austin, says Austin wants immigrants.
“We want the smartest people from wherever they are from,” she told the visiting reporters. “We want brains – brains are the commodity of the new economy – no matter where they are from.”
Schmidt of Capital Factory himself is an entrepreneur and consultant in the technology and creative industries, and also serves as a mentor at Capital Factory, known as an incubator-accelerator-investment facility.
It runs a programme called Touchdown Austin, one of a wide range of dynamic government- and private sector-led initiatives throughout the US, to support entrepreneurs and innovation, and encourage risk taking in a carefully planned, systematic way.
Schmidt calls it a “soft landing programme for global startups to land in the US, rather than on the east or west coast” in places like Boston, Massachusetts or Silicon Valley in California, the better-known innovation and startup hubs in states seen as immigration gateways.
“Touchdown Austin has 6-12 month programmes from arrival to help entrepreneurs set up their own companies, to get access to space and to mentors,” explained Schmidt.
Capital Factory usually takes a 1-2 percent stake and appoints a director on to the board of startups, since foreign companies coming in need to have a US citizen in order to get an American bank account.
It now has positions in some 200 different companies.
(This story is part of a series from a tour of America’s new innovation and start-up hubs, covering Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, Austin in Texas and San Diego in California organised by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center.)
(COLOMBO, May 19, 2017)