From Failte 32 email/newsletter 01/20/11 – Another Employment Option For Our Long-Term J1 Visa Holders……..

According to our research, setting up a business in the U.S. is not an
option for an IWT J1 visa holder under J1 visa eligibility criteria.
Therefore, one has be employed by a U.S. company. However, we believe that one has the option to seek employment in companies of various sizes, whether a Fortune 500 company or for example, a High Potential Start up (HPSU) i.e. recently established venture.

Many ‘collegepreneurs’ are going into business early on in their careers,
either while at college or shortly after graduation. Therefore, if we can
help long-term J1 visa holders connect with these recently established ventures here
in the U.S. for employment, we can offer them another employment option, in an entrepreneurial environment, which we feel today’s Irish graduates are well suited for based on the innovation oriented content of their undergraduate courses (these types of job positions can be in many cases easier to get than positions in larger companies, which can be full of red tape), as long as they are prepared to adapt to the relatively rigorous yet very rewarding entrepreneurial lifestyle.

So, if any of you know someone here in the U.S. (U.S. citizen or green card holder) who has recently set up a new venture or is considering setting up a new venture, please find out if they would be willing to employ a J1 visa holder from Ireland. In the case of those considering setting up a new venture, the option of being able to employ highly educated talent from Ireland (J1 visa holders) at competitive salary levels, along with the tax benefits mentioned in my last email and other possible incentives, may be the very thing that will urge them to set the wheels in motion and set up their own company, thus contributing to the growth of the U.S. economy. It is these start ups that ultimately become the engine of growth for the U.S. economy, and have as legitimate a role in providing employment as larger corporations. We want to stress though, that before a J1 visa holder decides to accept employment in such a venture, the new company should have a very solid business plan and some funding (or the offer of funding) in place, and a product/service that is innovation oriented and has been to some extent independently assessed as having a high potential for market success.

We want J1 visa holders to gain valuable relevant work experience in established U.S. companies or new ventures that have the necessary foundations in place to become successful companies. Graduates considering applying for a IWT J1 visa usually spend a period of 6 months to a year saving up enough money before heading to the U.S. Graduates interested in working in a start up environment in the U.S. should spend an equal amount of time preparing by utilizing facilities at their third level institution (universities have a role here too in supporting J1′s) to research new start ups in the U.S. or connect with people they know in the U.S. who are in the process of setting up a company, and offer pre-start up assistance (maybe as part of final year project). That way, they can hit the ground running the minute they arrive in the U.S.

We recently had a request in relation to a company in Ireland trying to access U.S. markets for their products. We don’t see any reason why J1 visa applicants could not make contact with these companies while in Ireland with a view to helping them assess the market for their product in the U.S., and/or linking them up with new ventures in the U.S. that the J1 applicant might have identified during their research, which could act as agents for these Irish companies in the U.S., while offering these new ventures a tried and tested Irish product offering to compliment their own new product offering (agency business/revenue is always very important by not being reliant solely on proprietary products/revenue), and the J1 visa holder a potential employment opportunity in the U.S. Enterprise Ireland would probably be able to offer assistance in this regard.

Remember, it is not small businesses per se that are important for economic growth, but flexible, innovative, risk-taking businesses, which tend to start small. It is the next Apple or Amazon.com, not the next mom-and-pop store, that will create jobs and boost our economy. J1 visa holders from Ireland can be a valuable resource for these start up companies for the short period of time they are in the U.S., as they come from a country that promotes and rewards innovation-based companies/technologies in Ireland, by implementing smart Govt. policy (Innovation Island/Smart Economy) that provides business incentives that are the envy of many EU countries, and permeates many layers of the Irish education system. As per my last email, J1 visa holders can then bring this international/entrepreneurial experience back to Ireland to help spur the growth of our own innovative indigenous companies, which themselves can compliment the activities of the large base of U.S. multinational companies in Ireland.

Also mentioned in my last email, these start ups may have an eye towards selling their products/services in EU markets, and establishing relationships with a European country like Ireland early on by employing graduates from Ireland can bear significant fruit down the line. Reciprocal links between the U.S. and Ireland have always served both countries well, and it’s important that we develop these links further in a business/entrepreneurship context. It would be great to see a visa program such as the IWT J1 make a valuable contribution to that which is the main driver of growth in the U.S. economy.

Some Irish third level institutions have recently organized trips for their students to visit companies in Silicon Valley, again stressing the importance Ireland puts on entrepreneurial endeavors by visiting the mecca of innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. Therefore, this type of employment option is a natural fit.

Failte 32 firmly believes that graduates working in a start up environment can in many cases gain more valuable working experience than that which they will gain working in larger companies, as invariably positions in larger firms will be junior level positions focused on basic tasks, many of which can be repetitive. One can learn so much more about how a business operates working in an entrepreneurial environment, even if the business ends up eventually failing. Failure is part of success.

Good news for New York start ups. Firms such as Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Accel Partners, are setting their sights East, thanks to the boom in New York city’s tech entrepreneurial scene. “The multistage investment opportunities in New York over the next decade or two are very significant,” said Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel, which plans to invest tens if not hundreds of millions in NY tech companies over the next couple of years.

We are exploring the possibility of setting up a J1 fund to support J1 visa holders while they are looking for employment in the U.S. We don’t know if this is a feasible idea yet but are putting out feelers to appropriate institutions and will update you if we have anything positive to report.

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We have attached a recent article from the NY Times. The article gives a realistic perspective on the pros and cons of setting up a business early on in your career, and mentions some pertinent entrepreneur support groups such as ‘the Young Entrepreneur Council’. Some pertinent quotes from this article as follows:

“But then again, unemployment is 9.8 percent;…….According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 24.4 percent of 2010 graduates who applied for a job had one waiting for them after graduation (up from 19.7 percent in 2009). What do some people have to loose?”

“I’ve seen all these people go to Wall Street, and those were supposed to be the good jobs. Now they are out of work,” says Windsor Hanger, 22, who turned down a marketing position at Bloomingdale’s to work on HerCampus.com, an online magazine. “It’s not a pure dichotomy anymore that entrepreneurship is risky and other jobs are safe, so why not do what I love?”

“Mr. Gerber argues that the tools to become an entrepreneur are more accessible than they’ve ever been. Thanks to the internet, there are fewer upfront costs. A business owner can build a website, host conference calls, create slide presentations online through a browser, and host live meetings and Web seminars – all on a shoestring.”

“Mr. Gerber warns that anyone starting a brick-and-mortar business still faces the same cost barriers they always have – including high rent. He advises young people to start a business that does not require expensive space.”

“Lack of experience can actually be an asset to young business owners. When……”

“Even if these 20-somethings pulled it off, the reality is a vast majority of entrepreneurs, of any age, don’t succeed……”

“The silver lining, however, was that Mr. Brinckeroff got inquiries from 10 companies about working for them after they read on the web or heard through word of mouth that his company had failed.”

“Employers like the entrepreneurial skill set,” he says. “They want to hire people who are risk-takers and can make quick decisions.”

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