There is much frustration, confusion and disappointment about foreign entrepreneurs finding a legal way to start a company in the United States. For many this issue is considered so hard that withholds them from making the leap and venture in the US. In this post i will try to put things in perspective and shed some light on how to handle this issue.
[skip if you are aware] First of, let’s describe the landscape. There is no straightforward way for you as an entrepreneur to come to the U.S. and found your startup company. The stories of frustrated founders returning back to their home countries after facing the immigration monster are quite a few. This has become such a serious issue that most of the high-tech prominent people have joined forces to create the startup visa initiative.
The Startup Visa Movement
The startup visa is the solution to the innovation drain problem that the US faces ever since it decided to firmly shut it’s borders. It will allow entrepreneurs to found and keep their companies in the United States, creating hundreds of jobs along the way. I won’t blubber more with it, i believe if you are reading this blog you are already well aware of what’s up with this issue, and already know what to do to support this initiative. Poke every US citizen you know to support the Startup Visa, raise awareness!
In the awareness front a very notable effort comes from the Starting-Up In America project. Starting up in America is a documentary film with quite a few notable foreign entrepreneurs, illustrating the hardship of the issue and how the US is doing it’s best to hamper innovation, growth and jobs creation. It’s a must see for anyone thinking of making the leap…
Currently the situation looks both promising and disappointing. Promising since President Obama himself and his administration have been actively engaged into bringing the entrepreneurial spirit back and helping America Startup. But also disappointing as the current governmental situation in the US is very polarized and unproductive. It may take some time before we see any kind of meaningful immigration legislation get passed into law, time that you may not have in hand to spare.
So what happens now?
Be In The US
First step to finding your way is to be in the US. You may do your homework back from your country and research the issue so you are at least aware of the options but the real deal is to be here. Being in the US gives you access to resources, connections and knowledge that are in no way accessible through any type of channel while back in your home country.
Most probably you will need to go back and forth to your home country quite a few times before you find your way, but eventually you will find it!
There Is Not One Pathway
There is not one pathway that will allow you to be in the US and start your company. Most probably your pathway is already set based on your education, country of origin and a few other factors…
Now i am not suggesting that it’s easy or all of a sudden the borders are open. What i am saying is that if you are determined to make your venture a success and have what it takes to do so, then there is nothing that will stop you.
Fear Is Your Enemy
You’ve been preparing for the trip for months now, working on your project for even more months, packed your whole life in a laptop and made the leap. This is your most vulnerable moment, probably in your lifetime. You will think “everything can be effed up for a tiny unbreakable technicality in the customs or the next time i come in or when i apply for a visa or or or…”
What if that? What if this?
It’s natural, it’s common and it will kill you.
You have to remain focused on your mission, your purpose, your startup. Nothing else matters. And it really doesn’t. You make sure your startup steps on solid ground, has sustainable growth and everything else will fall into place for you.
I was afraid as well, yet i got inspired by my surroundings. Everywhere i went, everything i did, i saw immigrants around me. In the restaurants that i ate, in the street, in the gas stations, quite a few not even speaking english! Everybody came from somewhere else. Especially in the Valley that is the common rule. You are no exception. Understand that, embrace it and you will start putting things into perspective.
Why Not Take The Soft Landing?
You are a top notch hacker, you turn a stone into a silicon wafer, you are the most valuable resource in the Valley! Why not try a soft landing? Chances are, what you think is probably wrong. Your startup will most certainly fail. I expect my startup to fail, and the reason is very simple: You and me, we, are starting from many points minus from zero.
- We have no understanding of the play-field and how things work
- We have no real connections to boost our progress, guide us, help us
- We have no prior experience on how a startup -company- is built
- We think knowing how to build a website equals knowing how to do a startup. Wrong
- We won’t be able to recruit engineers in the short timeframe that is required
So it would be foolish to believe that we can all make it. Some may make it, but not all, not all by far. Yet, in the Valley we can have a second and a third chance, why not take it? Why not dedicate ourselves in another startup for a couple of years and get better positioned for our future ventures?
I cannot stress how important this advice is, especially for you the younger ones that hold dear in your minds the dream of being in the Valley someday, with a kick-ass startup, ready to rule the world.
No, don’t wait for that idea and time to come, it will be too late, get active now, find a company to sponsor you and dive into the global core of High Tech! Ride with someone that will take care of you, coach you, connect you and before you realize it, when that idea comes, when that entrepreneurial bell rings, you will be starting from twenty plus!
I hope i shed some light into that troubling issue, hope to laid off some of your fears, i’d really love to hear what you think and discuss it…
Photo courtesy of the wampeter Photography – border fence
I find it hard to comment on such a matter. And even if i did chances are id make a fool of myself.
But i find it rather amazing now, reading your :report: how complicated and frustrating things turn out to be once you go past the -i got my pimped website up n running-.
It’s also funny how SV gets projected -in a way- being the birth place of batshit crazy people with innovative ideas owning the universe. Guess what you just mentioned can be reflected as the boring part of a got-a-story-to-tell thrilling movie about a tech success.
Great advice. I came to the US a year and a half ago – worked for Microsoft, got a Green Card and started a company The Shared Web through the Techstars program with my college friends from Canada. It’s hard and there isn’t a single way to do it, but it’s possible. My team and I had to figure out the many hurdles of getting visas to found the company in the US. So if someone is in the same situation feel free to contact me to ask any questions.
thanks for the advice. but i’d rather go to the US with friends so that we have each other in times of loneliness because of unacquainted to the place. but the technique is live as if you are race with the place not the place where you come from.
I enjoyed this article, thank you for what you said, this really is a good thing for me and those interested in this reference … thanks very much.