These 4 Firms Are Focused on Funding Immigrant Founders

  • Immigrants play an important role in the US technology industry, and many have founded successful companies.
  • With recent technological disengagement, there may be opportunities for immigrants to pursue entrepreneurship.
  • These VC firms and startup incubators can help immigrants find companies with work visas.

Some of today’s best-known tech companies were born out of the Great Recession of the late 2000s, including Twilio, Airbnb, and Dropbox. For a certain type of entrepreneur, the challenges of the economic downturn represent an exciting opportunity to build something new from the rubble of the old.

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Many of the top tech companies were founded by former employees of titans like Amazon or Google, giving hope that the wave of layoffs in Silicon Valley will lead to a similar startup renaissance.

But that opportunity isn’t available to a particular key type of tech worker: Immigrants who are in the US on work visas like the H-1B. Many of tech’s most powerful and influential figures, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Stripe cofounders John and Patrick Collison, and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan came to the US as immigrants.

H-1B visas are sponsored by the owner’s employer, meaning that if they lose their job — either voluntarily or as part of a layoff — they generally have to return to their home country within 60 days . That’s bad news for tech because those workers possess valuable, highly desirable skills, and it’s unclear if or when they can come back if they want to.

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Enter a new breed of venture-capital firms that are trying to keep that talent in the US by making it easier for immigrants to found American startups — sometimes even by sponsoring those visas themselves.

Jacob Colker, a managing partner of the AI2 Incubator program for artificial-intelligence startups, told Insider he wants to change the perception that it’s impossible to build a company while on an H-1B visa. It is certainly not easy, but it is possible, he said.

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“If you’re really compelled to solve a problem, and you want to control your own destiny, and you want to make your dent in the universe, and you’re on an H-1B, it’s possible to find a company,” Colker said. “It’s not guaranteed.”

Insider spoke to four companies that focus on investing in immigrant founders, representing a mix of VC firms and startup incubators, about how to pitch them and which types of resources are available. they give.

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