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After Nitin moved to the U.S. in 2005, he was ready to make the leap and create his own company but was faced with confusion and uncertainty. He was determined to find the answers to starting his new company and so he sought out advice from over two dozen different immigrant attorneys – all of which told him not to leave the company he was currently working for.
The perceived dilemma? To start his own company, he may have to leave the country. Fortunately for Nitin, this simply wasn’t true, but it took him a lot of time to get to find the truth in the nuance.
“I think the bigger problem than the immigration policy is the misinformation about immigration that’s out there.”
Nitin found that immigration attorneys didn’t fully understand the immigration laws. One good thing did come out of the confusion; he found the inspiration for his company. He decided to start Unshackled Ventures, a service dedicated to helping other immigrant founders experiencing the same frustration.
“Our mission is to take care of founders who are immigrants to the country, and they can focus their time on building the company while we take care of nuances that are unique to immigrant founders.”
Because of these unique challenges for immigrant founders, Nitin is looking for founders with a “strong adversity muscle” and he points out that many of the fastest-growing companies in the world are immigrant founded such as Google and Tesla.
“Their own willingness to raise their hand that ‘I want to be in the United States’, gives them a purpose. They are also going through a journey that gives them that grit, that adversity muscle. We think that is what adds that slight advantage to an immigrant founder.”
Unshackled Ventures is now 5 years old, with over 38 investments and about 100 successful immigrant filings under their belt. Because Nitin has lived the immigrant founders’ journey himself, he understands that “it’s not just about immigration, it’s the whole package. A big component of what we get to do with our portfolio companies is working on access.” Nitin and his team at Unshackled Ventures not only help with capital allocation, access to investors and mentors but even help with securing leases and getting credit cards for founders.
In this episode, Ian and Nitin discuss how Unshackled Ventures was founded, what Nitin and his partner are looking for in immigrant founders, and how they are uniquely positioned to attract the best founders from abroad.
Quotes from Nitin:
“Immigrants have this tendency of a very strong adversity muscle. I’m not saying that every immigrant is born to be an entrepreneur and I’m not saying that if you are not an immigrant you don’t have adversity muscle. What I am saying is that in the spectrum of people who would build phenomenal companies, we’re looking for people who have a slight advantage and we’re trying to back them for that slight advantage.”
[When looking for entrepreneurs to solve problems] “I’m looking for a nonobvious way of approaching the problem. Immigrants come from a different cultural background, they have a different way of thinking. That perspective gives them potentially a new way of looking at the problem.”
“There’s so much drive in entrepreneurs that they are not going to let anything slow them down.”
“We’re on the path to become the destination for immigrant founders. I think that’s a phenomenal position to be at.”