Keeping Unicorns in the US
Keeping Unicorns in the US.
US Democrat Zoe Lofgren's bill introduced last week is set to ensure that the US retains the crown when it comes to creation of billion dollar startups, reports Times of India. The bill seeks to curb job outsourcing through H1B program which has been long used by large IT companies, and make way only for the highly skilled like those who go on to build unicorn startups. "My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent - to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the US workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them," said Lofgren.
What is interesting to note is that while US leads with the most number of unicorns or startups that are valued at over a billion dollars, a majority of these are founded by immigrants. A 2016 study by the National Foundation for American Policy shows that 51% of US-based unicorns i.e 44 out of 87 startups were founded by immigrants. Amongst countries, India leads with 14 unicorn founders being of Indian origin. Ash Ashutosh of data management startup Actifio, Jay Chaudhry of Zscaler, Dheeraj Pandey , Ajeet Singh and Mohit Aron of Nutanix, Dhiraj Rajaram of Mu Sigma, KR Sridhar of Bloom Energy , Jyoti Bansal of AppDynamics are just a few names. "Typically, the use of H1B route is not towards startups but employees of large IT companies. Hence, the impact will be minimal.
Startup founders are mainly those who come to America as international students or those who used the H1B route and then got a greencard," said Sashi Chimala, serial entrepreneur who has spent several decades in the US and particularly, Silicon Valley. For the skilled across the world including India, America's Silicon Valley has been the promised land. California, San Jose and Palo Alto has seen several successful companies being founded such as Google, Uber, Intel and Facebook. "In the 1980s, even in cricket, many players used to play for a few clubs in the UK and earn in pounds over a couple of seasons. India then grew as a cricketing nation and today provides opportunities to the best foreign players to come and play here. Likewise, we already have a bunch of Dhonis and Kohlis of the start-up world. It is time for us to tell the next generation of entrepreneurs that India has the largest playing ground, thanks to the demographic dividend and incentivise them to play here," said Pavan Kachibhatla, founder, MeritLane.
While many refer Bengaluru to be the Silicon Valley of India, industry veterans say we need not build a similar ecosystem here. "In Silicon Valley , startups have gone through multiple cycles and many companies have exited. In India, we are yet to see a massive IPO by a startup. What India needs is a different ecosystem that supports the first generation of founders," added Chimala. For Kaladhar Bapu, a design consultant, it was a childhood dream to study in Pratt University . Bapu took a break to study and decided to settle in New York.