There has been a lot of buzz around the Startup Visa lately, and while I’m excited for the possibility of opening doors to entrepreneurs, I am still a bit hesitant, and for other reasons than most it seems. I want to consider the overall message of the Startup Visa and other like minded initiatives and the impact they may be having.
By my thinking, bringing in international entrepreneurs would offer at least 2 ½ benefits of note–
These points in addition to the opportunity it offers the entrepreneur itself to break out of wherever they are from and to come find success. As a side note, great ideas may not have the same chance at success in other countries, the same opportunity for outside money to come in and support the idea, the same freedoms that serve to incubate great ideas (knock on wood). Why shouldn’t they have a shot at the same market as we do?
So we can see that there are some obvious attractions to the Startup Visa type movements, but as I mentioned earlier I am still a bit hesitant to call this the perfect solution, let me outline why.
While attending a university in Hawaii I went to school with students from some 70 other nations. From Kiribus to Chuuk and Australia to Russia I got a mix of cultures unavailable at any other American university (any university that I know of), but they offered a heavily subsidized education to international students to come to Hawaii, be given a job and a great education, then finish with absolutely no debt. What’s the catch? They had to promise to return to their original countries and use their skills and talents to better the lives of their people. It sounds a bit idealistic, but this honestly my hang up.
Is it better to invest (invest time, energy, focus, money, etc) in entrepreneurial support, mentoring, and funding in other countries, or do we invest (again time, money, energy, focus) in opening the door for them to come to America to start? Is it selfish of us to give them a door to come here and benefit our economy and market, or is it gracious of us to do so?
When I was in my early twenties I spent several years in Ukraine and while there I noticed that most Eastern Europeans suffered from what I call the “American Tail” syndrome. You might remember the song from the old 80’s cartoon… “there are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese”. Well that’s the mentality that dominates the people there (and in any 2nd/3rd world country), mainly that life is better in America, it’s easier there, and if I can just get there, I’ll be fine. I worry that really pushing this as a great option (which it would be for a lot of entrepreneurs) would encourage them to hold off on great ideas in their own countries and instead put their time and energy into getting that idea to America. Don’t build a local team to build the business, instead find Americans to help and get you moving towards America. And then even if they did start it in their home country, as soon as it got tough, they would be more open to giving up because they’re not in America where starting a business is easy (think “It would have gone for sure if I was in America”). It’s a dangerous mentality to foster because it becomes another reason why they can’t.
Further, if the good ideas always leave for America, the land of opportunity, when do these other countries get to climb out of their disadvantages? Essentially, by encouraging the collection of the greatest minds to the US, would we be spending other countries principal instead of encouraging them to invest with it? Wouldn’t we be taking a small countries biggest asset to make ourselves richer?
So I’m conflicted. In the perfect scenario, an entrepreneur would come to America and make his mark, make some money and build a network, go back to his home country and use the experience, confidence, and success to lift up his fellow countrymen. In an imperfect scenario, they leave for America and the mirage of “great things only happen in America” is fostered among those who stay behind (family, friends, and associates), and entrepreneurship in that country continues as is.
So I’m asking for some insights here from others. What puts you over the top in support of the Startup Visa and other initiatives geared at the same result? I would love your thoughts. Or if you’re an international entrepreneur, what is the cost/benefit breakdown for you?
So I saw a tweet this morning about Nasuni Backup from Jesse Noller’s backing (python anyone?), which looks really promising. I’ve been looking for a solution for my personal backup for quite a while. I have about a dozen computers that people are using in my projects in a “if any two of them went down it’d be a disaster” type of scenario, so I’ve been looking to build a repository/backup solution for a while. I looked at carbonitepro.com when I heard Leo advertise it on TWiT, but it runs about $3000 for 499 gb of data, and considering the three 250 gb drives that are filled to the max on my desk alone, this wasn’t going to work. I just can’t justify spending that when 1T drives, which two could hold all my data I need backed up, are sitting at about $100 a piece, $70 a piece if you stood in line at walmart after Thanksgiving.
So Nasuni is doing some great things with the backup process, using the cloud, which I like, etc. But they lead out with a $3K base fee, then the .15 A3 storage fee per gigabyte on top of that. So for 1T of storage, you’re talking again $3500 or so (this is obviously better than carbonitepro as in the long run storage prices are incremental once you’ve built in the fixed Nasuni fee).
Now realize please, that I’ve built backup solutions for major corporations, I get that I’m saving the hardware costs, the management fees, the data center fees, etc. I also get the fact that a good backup solution is worth every penny you’ve paid in the event of failure or theft. I know that it’s necessary. But for a small business it’s a gamble that is the norm because we simply don’t have the funds to put in backup.
So here’s my thought (really question rather), is there, somewhere, a solution for the large personal user / small business user that can sit between the $3K annual pricing for backup of these guys, but slightly above the $20-50 a month of the small solutions? There’s got to be something? If anyone has any suggestions I’m all ears. I’m looking for around $100 a month for 1T of storage that can be used by multiple computers… anyone…. anyone?