Immigrant Entrepreneurship important for Upstate New York

On February 7, 2018, Upstate Capital brought together members of the business and entrepreneurial communities to Cornell University to meet founders of immigrant startups and to discuss the challenges they may face in staying in the US to build their companies. Immigrant entrepreneurship plays a key role in the economic vitality of Upstate New York and beyond. Over 50% percent of U.S. companies valued at over $1B+ were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, and those companies create an average of 760 jobs per company. 

The program began with startups from across Upstate New York pitching to the audience and investors. All companies are founded or co-founded by a person who immigrated to this country.

Vipul Saran, of Farther Farms, introduced his technology that extends shelf life of fruits and vegetables by months without the use of preservatives, chemicals or GMOs.  They won the Cornell Venture Challenge and a finals prize at the NYS Business Plan Competition last year.

Neil Sharma of SolarKal described his company's solution as a solar marketplace - for business owners to find data, financing and competitive bids from local solar partners.  They were one of the 76 West winners in 2017.

Shailesh Upreti is launching C4V, a gigawatt battery factory in the Southern Tier, based on his experience developing and commercializing technologies that lead to key discoveries have been fruitful in vastly extending battery life, safety and charge performance in batteries. They also won a 76 West award last year.

Dr. Morteza Ahmadi, founder and CEO of Qidni Labs, spoke about his technology for a wearable blood purification device  to improve outcomes, increase accessibility and lower cost for dialysis patients. Qidni was a 43 North finalist this year.

After the pitches, Nate Cook, Attorney of Counsel at Miller Mayer, LLP and Board Member of Upstate Capital, introduces the panel of speakers, including, the panel moderator, Zach Shulman, Director of  Entrepreneurship at Cornell and Managing Partner at Cayuga Venture Fund. John Hill, Vice President of Network at Techstars joined Stephen Yale-Loehr, Professor of Immigration Practice at Cornell Law School and Attorney of Counsel at Miller Mayer.

The group discussed how immigration law has not changed since 1990, and there is no existing visa for startups, despite many other countries already incorporating this type of visa into law. Currently, there are only a certain number of people who are allowed into the country each year, and entrepreneurs are looking for locations where it is easy for them to do their work. Since the laws are not changing any time soon, the goal is to learn to function within the current system. Entrepreneurs need capital, they need to harbor relationships, and they need the time and space to grow their talents. 

Zach, Steve and John explain entrepreneurial parole for international entrepreneurs, and talk ecosystem building.

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