I’m in Washington DC again – this time to talk about innovation. I’ve been here three times in the past year – the first time was to hear Bilski at the Supreme Court in November and then I was back in March to talk about and promote the Startup Visa.
Yesterday, Thomas Friedman article wrote another great OpEd about the topic titled A Gift for Grads: Start-Ups. As with many Friedman OpEd’s, rather than just railing against the situation, he suggests several specific things that can be done – in this case by the current administrationb. His premise is that to solve the unemployment issue, especially among recent college graduates, we need three things: more start-ups, more start-ups, and more start-ups. And to do this, Friedman talked to Robert Litan (vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation) and Curtis Carlson, (CEO of SRI International) and came up with the following.
I strongly agree with each of these. My one small addition to the Secretary Newco idea is that person should be an accomplished entrepreneur rather than a career politician, policy person, academic, or lawyer.
Over the next two days I’ve got a meeting with each of my Colorado Senators (Michael Bennet and Mark Udall) as well as a summit at the White House led by Phil Weiser (Director of Technology and Innovation for the National Economic Council), Aneesh Chopra (CTO of the US), and Vivek Kundra (CIO of the US). Our summit includes a small group of VCs from different parts of the US that I’ve helped put together and it’ll focus on the issue of early stage entrepreneurs and innovation throughout the country (specifically – more than just Silicon Valley). I’m also participating in a roundtable titled Implementing The National Broadband Plan and Protecting Consumer Choice: The Venture Capitalist Perspective with fellow VCs Brad Burnham from USV and Santo Politi from Spark Capital. And, as a special bonus, I’m going over the CIA later today for a tour, although I can’t talk about it, so you didn’t just read that.
I don’t spend a lot of time in DC, in politics, or even following politics (I’ve never been a political junkie) so these short immersions are fascinating to me. Hopefully when I look back on the time I’ve spent on this stuff I’ll feel like it’s been a productive effort for the cause of entrepreneurship and innovation in the US which is the thing I spend all my time actually working on by helping create new companies.
I promise I’ll write something thoughtful tomorrow and not torture you with more video and audio.
Over the weekend, I did a fun interview with Howard Lindzon on StockTwits TV during his annual Lindzonpalooza event. We covered a wide range of entrepreneurial topics and gave each other plenty of good natured shit. Eek – I’m a looking a little chunky – note to self: more running, more swimming, less eating. Or maybe it was just the camera.
This afternoon I did an interview with Jon Hansen on Blog Talk Radio about an article that Ariana Huffington wrote on the Huffington Post titled When It Comes to Innovation, Is America Becoming a Third World Country? Jon does a good, thoughtful, long form interview.
In March, I went to DC with Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Shervin Pishevar, and a bunch of Geeks on a Plane to discuss, advocate, and support the Startup Visa initiative. As part of the effort, we did two videos about the trip – one staring me and one staring Shervin. Ben Henretig of Micro-Documentaries produced them – they have some striking images of DC along with plenty of commentary from me and Shervin about why the Startup Visa is important.
Eric Ries has a few other thoughts about the trip and things you can do to help the Startup Visa initiative.
While everyone is talking about health care, let’s not forget our friend the Startup Visa. Two good articles appeared this morning.
Also, if you missed Thomas Friedman’s awesome OpEd this weekend titled America’s Real Dream Team – I encourage you to go take a look.
If you support the Startup Visa and have a blog or a website, put the Startup Visa Twitter Widget up on your site.
And – on March 2nd at 12 noon Pacific / 3 pm Eastern – we are going to do a Tweet Hall for the Startup Visa. All you need to do is tweet @2gov supporting #startupvisa exactly at Noon Pacific on Tuesday March 2nd. We’ll collect your Tweets and deliver them during our visit to the White House on March 4th.
Today, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the StartUp Visa Act of 2010. The group of us behind the Startup Visa project have been working closely with key members of each Senators’ staff on this and we are incredibly pleased with the proposed bill.
Following is the text from the press release announcing the bill:
“Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced legislation to drive job creation and increase America’s global competiveness by helping immigrant entrepreneurs secure visas to the United States.
The StartUp Visa Act of 2010 will allow an immigrant entrepreneur to receive a two year visa if he or she can show that a qualified U.S. investor is willing to dedicate a significant sum – a minimum of $250,000 – to the immigrant’s startup venture.
“Global competition for talent and investment grows more intense daily and the United States must step up or be left behind,” said Sen. Kerry. “Everywhere Dick Lugar and I travel for the Foreign Relations Committee, we see firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit driving the economies of our competitors. Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the United States and create jobs here will offer our economy a double shot in the arm – robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we’re the world’s best place to do business.”
“Our country should strive to attract to the United States the most talented and highly skilled entrepreneurs. We should channel the power of innovative thinkers from around the world and American investors towards creating jobs and encouraging economic growth and future prosperity,” said Ranking Member Lugar.
The StartUp Visa Act of 2010 would amend immigration law to create a new EB-6 category for immigrant entrepreneurs, drawing from existing visas under the EB-5 category, which permits foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million into the U.S., and thereby create ten jobs, to obtain a green card. After proving that he or she has secured initial investment capital and if, after two years, the immigrant entrepreneur can show that he or she has generated at least five full-time jobs in the United States, attracted $1 million in additional investment capital or achieved $1 million in revenue, then he or she would receive permanent legal resident status.
More than 160 venture capitalists from across the country have endorsed the senators’ proposal. That letter of support is attached.”
The support from the venture capital and super angel community has been fantastic. Now that we have both a sponsored house bill (HR 4259 – sponsored by Jared Polis (D-CO)) and a sponsored senate bill, it’s time to crank up the grassroots support. Look for a few specific things to do in the next few days on both this blog and the Startup Visa blog.
As the Startup Visa initiative continues to pick up momentum, we are now collecting stories from immigrants who have either started or tried to start their company in the US. We are interested in any aspect of your story and – while we’d like to be able to have your contact info – recognize that some people will want their story to be anonymous (which is ok with us.)
We’re looking to collect as many stories as we can by February 27th (11pm) so that we’ll be able to put them together in an appropriate format for the Geeks on a Plane trip to DC on 3/4/10 – 3/6/10 which will include a delegation of folks (including me) talking about the Startup Visa.
If you have a Startup Visa story about your immigration challenges to tell, please help us out!