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De-risking entrepreneurship for immigrant founders

Founders born abroad have built more than half of America’s “unicorn” startups (see, “Immigrants and the American Economy). The proposed International Entrepreneurship Rule, which would allow foreign-born entrepreneurs to remain in the U.S., is under attack from the Trump administration. From the other direction, Unshackled Ventures is raising a new fund specifically to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs. Part of its mission: create 100,000 American jobs.

The San Francisco area-based venture firm helps de-risk investments in immigrant-founded companies by helping founders secure the visas and business support they need to grow. The most recent investments include on-demand knitwear manufacturer Tailored Industry, located in an opportunity zone in Brooklyn, camera monetization solution Hype, and Mylk Guys, a plant-based food grocer. Unshackled’s “immigration platform solution” helps the firm “partner with VCs and investors to support immigrant entrepreneurs build their startups,” founding partner Nitin Pachisia told ImpactAlpha.

11 venture capitalists investing in immigration tech

  • Backers. Unshackled counts among its dozens of investors Brad Feld, First Round Capital, Jerry Yang and Laurene Powell Jobs. Last year the VC kicked off fundraising for a second, $25 million, fund. Unshackled portfolio companies have secured capital from more than 130 co-­investors.
  • Early-stage. Unshackled has made 32 investments in 25 companies since 2014, generally in pre-seed stage investments of less than $500,000. The investment firm bets on entrepreneurs at the earliest, idea stage of their businesses. “By bringing together immigration and venture capital at day 0, we believe more immigrant founders will succeed faster,” the firm says on its website. “And history is on our side.”

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