Brad Feld, Foundry Group: The Startup Visa

Transcript follows & video below.  This is Part III of the interview.  You can view Part I and Part II here

Brad you have been at the forefront of promoting the ‘Startup Visa’, as someone who battled with the venture industry in Europe, I say good work you!  In Europe it is much more difficult to gain venture funding, for both men & women who often feel shut out of the possibilities in the venture game.  This is such a great cause & I support you wholeheartedly!  Could you give a quick update as to the progress of this visa? Startup Visa Interviews at O’Reilly Gov 2.0

Sure, the Startup Visa is the same phenomena that we’re talking about with women.  The reason I got excited about the notion of a startup visa was I thought it was absolutely stupid, not just mediumly dumb, not just short sighted, just stupid that in the United States we would make it difficult for somebody who wanted to be an entrepreneur who was a foreigner to come start their company in the US. It just never made sense to me.  There’s a whole long litany of reasons around immigration & around stuff that makes no sense apart from the job perspective.  Because of course entrepreneurs are creating companies that didn’t previously exist which generates jobs that didn’t previously exist.  But its the same thread & for me personally I think that anybody that wants to start a company should be able to.  It’s already hard enough to create a company & be successful, you should eliminate as much of the barriers as you possibly can. Where the Startup Visa is at, we started talking about it a little bit more than a year ago.  There are 2 active Bills, one in the House & one in the Senate. They’re both still in Committee. That means in the US Government (for foreign viewers) is that the Bills are actually real Bills that have gotten past the initial vetting process but they still haven’t gotten to the point where anybody takes a vote on them.  So they’re still far away from becoming law. Because of the Election cycle & the dynamics of how politics is working in the US right now, because the Startup Visa touches on a visa, it gets wrapped  into the entire immigration debate which is a very contentious, very wide ranging debate, very polarized. I think our general sense at this stage, especially since we have elections coming up, nothing’s going to happen between now & the elections. It will be a 2011 issue. Our hope is that sometime in 2011, immigration reform starts to become  something that’s focused on a more important & obviously from a jobs perspective, an entrepreneurial perspective, we hope that the Startup Visa will start to pick up some speed from that.

Brad Feld

Brilliant, thanks again for putting this forward & for all your support for it and for european entrepreneurs! I would like to thank you again for your time today, Brad, I really appreciate your feedback.  You’re really a star out there in the community, in the entrepreneurial community.  I’ve learnt so much for years actually from your blog  & do appreciate you giving me this time.

I really appreciate it.  One thing I’d end on & something that has come from the work we’ve done at NCWIT is that it’s not really a right or wrong issue around women in technology argument which is what a lot of people make it out to be.  Essentially men & women own all the cultural dynamics & we’ve created it & the biases have emerged societally. I think in 2010 there’s no question that women who enter into technology cultures will have a harder time of it. There’s a bias against it right now.  You know ‘hard’ is just what it is, it’s just more difficult. We can all learn from that & part of what we need to learn from that is how to lower the bias so that there isn’t artificial bias in the process.

Brad Feld

I read a post on earlier today where someone was saying, you need to be an explorer to be an entrepreneur & generally it’s men that are the explorers. I hasten to actually refute that, because I think there’s a lot of us women who have incredible explorer focus.  And I think that we can all do it together, like you said.

I totally agree & statements like that just make my head hurt right. What a ridiculous bias, men are traditionally explorers!  It’s just a dumb statement!

It’s back in the cave man time!

The only thing you can do is call it out & say there’s nothing. Yes of course women behave differently & do things differently than men but so do I from my partner Jason who sits in the next office to me.  We’re all different & we should embrace those differences.  Thank you for bringing this topic to life with the interviews you’ve been doing, I appreciate that as well.

Brad Feld

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