Support a Pathway for Entrepreneurs

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 03/18/2015

Last November, as part of his executive action announcement, President Obama introduced an Entrepreneur Pathways program (EPP) — which will serve as a “startup visa” for entrepreneurs who want to grow businesses and create jobs in America.

But we know this program can only be successful if the community has a say in the process. So FWD.us held roundtables with VCs, accelerators, immigrant entrepreneurs, and legal experts and carried out a national survey to crowdsource your great ideas. We recently compiled all of this information into a recommendation brief and submitted it to the White House.

Take a look at the FWD.us recommendation brief and sign on in support.

The FWD.us brief outlines eligibility criteria for EPP based on investment, revenue, and job creation. We make four main recommendations:

  1. Give Priority to Entrepreneurs That Create American Jobs: Once an applicant qualifies for the Entrepreneur Pathways program, there should be a clear timeline in which the entrepreneur should be able to demonstrate that he/she has created economic opportunity for other Americans. If successful, the entrepreneur should be strongly prioritized to qualify for lawful permanent residency.
  2. Set Distinct Eligibility Criteria According To Applicants’ Backgrounds And Circumstances: Entrepreneurs come from all kinds of backgrounds — young STEM graduates, accelerator participants, entrepreneurs living abroad, and entrepreneurs who have been living and working in the U.S. for several years. Given the separate challenges facing each category of applicant, we provided different evaluation criteria for these different applicants.
  3. Use An Either/Or Approach In Evaluating Applicants: Applicants should be evaluated based on level of investment or revenue, but not both. For example, a company specializing in biotechnology may exceed the funding and job creation criteria, but because of extensive product approval processes, the company won’t be able to make revenue for several years. These applicants should still be considered strong candidates, as long as they meet a selection of the requirements rather than all of the requirements.
  4. Evaluate Job Creation Based On Different Stages of Business Development: When creating the suggested criteria for qualifying for the Entrepreneur Pathways program, we made adjustments according to the different entrepreneur candidates. For example, young STEM graduates and entrepreneurs enrolled in accelerator programs are often in the early stages of their businesses, and should be held to a lower job creation standard than a foreign entrepreneur applying to move her business to the United States.

Join us and show your support for the EPP by signing on to our brief.

By signing onto our brief, you will help us communicate the urgent need for this program. Every day, talented people are prevented from pursuing their dreams and contributing to the strength of our country, and our economy is missing out on the creation of American jobs. This is why the Entrepreneur Pathways program needs to be a priority for the White House. Help us show the Administration that the program has overwhelming support from members of the tech community, and that this is a program whose implementation we cannot afford to delay.

For further information about the Entrepreneur Pathways program, FWD.us’s role in providing community feedback to the White House, and the full text of our 11-page recommendation brief, please visit our website: http://www.fwd.us/pathways

H-1B Visa Program Boosts Our Economic Growth and Creates American Jobs

Posted by Todd Schulte on 03/17/2015

The H-1B visa program helps ensure that the best and the brightest talent from across the globe can boost our country’s economic growth, expand opportunity, and create American jobs: the simple fact is that the H-1B visa program provides immense economic benefits to our economy, and it’s a false choice that we can’t protect American workers and create a better system that allows American companies to get access to the best talent in the world – we can and must do both.

We continue our work every day to secure a permanent legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system, which is hurting our economy, preventing the creation of American jobs, and forcing millions of families to live in fear of separation from their loved ones. We’ll keep fighting to help drive the changes that our country and our economy urgently need.

Q&A with "She Started It" Documentary Creators

Posted by Viola Olayinka on 03/04/2015

Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed are the co-producers of She Started It – a documentary on female tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. FWD.us spoke with her about the film and how she hopes to change the narrative in the tech community.

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She Started It filmmakers interview Agathe Molinar, CEO of Lemoncurve.com, in Paris, France. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: Can you explain what She Started It is and what inspired you to take action?

She Started It team: She Started It is a documentary film on women tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women and to encourage more girls towards entrepreneurship in the technology industry.

Shot on location in Silicon Valley, NYC, Vietnam and Europe, She Started It follows the main stories of four young female entrepreneurs on their road to startup success – Thuy, Brienne, Stacey and Agathe – as well as featuring veteran experts and role models who give perspective on the issues. As journalists covering the tech industry in Silicon Valley for the past three years, we noticed that there are some great female entrepreneurs that were not getting the spotlight they deserved. There were tons of great male founders to learn from but not enough women, though there were some successful ones that had started companies. We decided we had to shed light on this new entrepreneurial revolution in a compelling way, and film appeared to be the most effective medium to inspire girls globally.

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Jess Lee, CEO, Polyvore in Mountain View, CA   Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What hurdles have you faced in conceptualizing She Started It?

She Started It team: When the statistic is that 90 percent of all startups fail, you know a lot of people would not want to show some of the real grit on screen, so access to tell the whole story can be hard. That being said, the women we built relationships with really were generous to let us in their lives during insanely busy times – they believed in the message of the film and what we were doing.

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She Started It interview with 18 year old co-founder of Entefy, Brienne Ghafourifar, at their offices in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What type of feedback have you received from the tech community?

She Started It team: People are extremely excited to be able to see women in technology on screen in a way that hasn’t been done before. Former leaders in the VC industry have supported us, and amazing men and women such as Megan Smith, Cindy Padnos, Tracy Chou, Sharon Vosmek, Ruchi Sanghvi, Michael Carter, Joanne Wilson (and more) have generously interviewed with us. Derek Anderson at StartupGrind, the people at 500 Startups, Girls Innovate, S.F. Citi and TechCrunch have been instrumental in helping us reach more of the tech community and we really appreciate their support.

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Tracy Chou, software engineer at Pinterest, speaks to She Started It filmmakers. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: How do you hope the role of women in the technology industry can change in the future?

She Started It team: We hope that by seeing this film, women and girls will think, “If she can do it, I can do it.” Not only do we hope that in the future more girls will take interest in studying computer science and math in high school – but that they would also think that they too could become an entrepreneur, or be entrepreneurial in their approach to life. By changing the discourse and the perception around STEM fields and what it means to be entrepreneur, learn what an entrepreneur does, we think we can get more girls to participate in the field, but also learn about persistence, resilience, and confidence and that being okay with failing is part of the process.

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Nora Poggi of She Started It and Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States at Google headquarters. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What comes next for She Started It?

She Started It team: We are currently in post-production and hope to have a finished film by summer 2015. Our main goal is to tour the film across schools and colleges here and abroad, to inspire as many young people as possible. We also plan to apply to top festivals and are exploring all distribution avenues, like broadcast and online. We are actively fundraising to be able to get to the finish line!

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Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, visits a Girls Innovate event in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: If you could tell yourself from 10 years ago something, what would it be?

She Started It team: Persist. Persist. Persist. Learn to be technically savvy in something, it doesn’t matter what. Learn to code, but also learn how to sell.

Day of Action: Our #Freedom2Innovate Kickoff

Posted by Todd Schulte on 03/02/2015

Today, FWD.us is holding a #Freedom2Innovate Day of Action – it’s the start of a month long campaign to highlight the incredible costs that come from failing to fix our broken immigration system, and to highlight the incredible potential our country has if we can reform our immigration laws. Starting today, we’ll be working with a broad coalition of individuals who would benefit from immigration reform, with elected officials from both parties from across the country, and with the tech community to show that reform can’t wait. We’re using April 1st as a backstop – the day where so many high-skilled immigrants will find out if they will, or will not, be able to stay in this country and create jobs.

The dialogue in D.C. is filled with noise on immigration – what we’re doing in the next month is boiling this down to the consensus. Past the arguing, we agree the status quo is broken and we need reforms to help our economy grow and provide the ability for 11 million undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and contribute fully.

Here are three reasons why we’re asking you to join our #Freedom2Innovate Day of Action today:

First – 3 in 4 Americans (including 2 in 3 Republicans) support immigration reform, but for us to be successful we need to highlight the urgency and increase the intensity of our work. While April 1st isn’t a determinative day for all, it is for many and we’re asking each and every one of you to help drive home the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system over the next month.

Second – We’ll create urgency by showing the cost of inaction and the benefits of reform. Today, we’ll be highlighting individual stories of entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies here and create American jobs – both online and on calls with the press. We know the power of stories, and we believe in the power of technology to harness and amplify these stories.

Third — We’re organizing our efforts around policy points where we can make a difference through legislation and executive action, while continuing to work towards a permanent legislative solution that fixes our fundamentally broken system so that it works for our economy.”

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That we are a nation of immigrants has been, and always should be, a source of incredible strength and dynamism. The very nature of immigration – the entrepreneurialism that leads people to leave so much behind and come to our nation – has long been one of our country’s greatest competitive advantages. Yet today we no longer have an immigration system that reflects our values, and the price we pay is severe: we educate the best and brightest only to tell them there is no place for them to create jobs here, millions of families live in fear of being torn apart by deportation, and $37 million dollars are lost every day we fail to pass reform.

The stakes couldn’t be higher – so today, please help us renew our push to win.

Call your member of Congress now.