Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs

As part of Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Week, a panel of foreign-born innovators connected to the school spoke to nearly 200 students. The Peninsula Press reported that the March 3 event was intended to teach students how to start a company while gaining legal status as a U.S. citizen. The panelists, who all achieved legal, permanent status differently, described the importance of starting the green card process early and getting a lawyer.

Pablo Diaz-Gutierre, co-founder of Appfluence, a software company aimed at making people more productive, explained to the audience that being a foreigner in innovative industries has many benefits, including the connections to outsource work in a native country. In a competitive global economy, it can be extremely beneficial to have cohorts across the world working on a start-up.

“If you’re going to start a start-up you need to be ready to do everything yourself. From accounting to taxes to immigration – absolutely everything,” Montse Medina, co-founder of Jetlore, told the audience. “But, you do want a lawyer that is going to give you ideas, who’ll say, of course this is what everybody does, but there’s also this other option. This is the lawyer that you want.”

Trinidad-native Davyeon Ross came to the United States in the late 1990s and graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, in 2000. He had high hopes of starting a business in the States, which was made possible after he was recruited by Sprint as a software engineer. The company paid for his green card, allowing him to establish Digital Sports Venture, which was bought by Digital Broadcasting Group in 2011, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Panelists at Stanford argued that this path does not work for everyone and being proactive is the key to success.