Some huge percentage of startup companies in this country are founded by immigrants. Not surprising. It has always been that way in America. But in the wake of 9/11, we've shut our borders and become intolerant of people from other cultures. Over time that will result in the sclerosis of our economy and the decline of america as the locus of capitalism and the american dream.
Last year, right after our firm and one other VC firm invested $3mm into one of our portfolio companies, the founder was forced to leave the country because his visa ran out. The jobs that $3mm were intended to fund didn't get created. The innovation the company was working on was delayed. Is that good policy? No it is not.
The startup visa movement was born out of frustration over stories like this and thousands of other similar ones. The premise of the startup visa is simple. If an entrepreneur can get funding to start a business in this country, he or she should be able to get a visa. Creating companies and jobs is a patriotic act and should be rewarded by legal status. The logic behind these ideas is irrefutable. But over the past year, the startup visa movement has run into a series of roadblocks. Politcs and goverment has a way of turning good ideas to mush.
Like a good entrepeneur would do, the movement has persevered. It has adapted, taken feedback, rethought certain ideas, and come back stronger. Yesterday, a redrafted startup visa bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Lugar, Kerry, and Udall. And one of the harshest critics of the initial startup visa bill, Vivek Wadhwa, has concluded that this new version of the bill is "is even better than I had hoped for."
If you'd like to help promote this idea, you can use the votizen service to send a message to your elected officials. The more they hear from us on this issue, the better off we will be. And if you want to keep up to date on the startup visa movement, you can follow it on tumblr and on twitter.
This is an important issue for america, its economy, its vitality, and its entrepreneurial culture. Please help get the word out and make the startup visa a reality.