For those that don't, it is the idea that anyone who wants to start a business here in the US and can attract a modest amount of investment capital should be granted a visa to stay and work here in this country. It was first proposed by Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator early last year and it was seconded by Brad Feld, founder of the Foundry Group venture capital firm. Brad is a good friend and a co-investor of mine over the years. Brad roped me into the small group that has been pushing this idea forward. I will say that I haven't done much work on this, mostly cheerleading and making noise about it. But the small group has moved the ball forward pretty far.
Yesterday, Senators John Kerry (D) and Richard Luger (R), the two ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee formally proposed legislation to create a Startup Visa. A while back Representative Jared Polis (D) proposed very similar legislation in the House. So now we've got legislation with strong sponsorship in both houses of congress.
Brad Feld tells me that about 0.1% of all legislative ideas get this far. So we should be proud of what our small group has done with no lobbyists, no budget, no advisors, and no expertise.
But he also tells me that about 1% of bills that get this far turn into laws. So we've got a lot more to do. We need everyone to contact their Senators and Representatives and explain why this is such an important issue. You can do that now on your own. But I expect that the Startup Visa blog will develop and roll out some tools shortly to make it even easier to do that.
I am certain that anti-immigration forces will find something not to like in this proposed legislation and fight it. But we have to fight back. So many great american corporations, like Intel, Proctor & Gamble, and Google were founded by immigrants. We need more jobs in this country and we can't expect our large corporations to deliver them all by themselves. We need to create new businesses that can employ our citizens. And the history of our country is rich with stories of immigrant entrepreneurs. We have to embrace them, welcome them, fund them, and let them do their thing. A startup visa is one important way to do that.