Unshackled, a New Angel Fund, Forms to Back Immigrant Entrepreneurs

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via WSJ

Some of the U.S.’s most successful tech companies, including Intel Corp.INTC +0.93%and Google Inc.GOOGL +1.70%, have been built by immigrants, and many people who come to the U.S. aspire to work in or start tech companies.

Without work visas, though, they don’t get far. A new San Francisco-based angel fund,Unshackled, which claims more than 50 individuals and funds as investors, has raised a $3.5 million fund to try to change that.

Started by an immigrant, Nitin Pachisia, and the son of immigrants, Manan Mehta, Unshackled will hire entrepreneurs as employees, providing them with a paycheck, work visas and health benefits while they try to build their startups to the point where they can raise another round.

Although Unshackled won’t focus exclusively on immigrants—the founders are trying to back the best entrepreneurs they can find—it is structured to serve immigrants because the founders believe that pool of talent is so promising and so underserved.

The fund has made no investments yet, but “we are attracting brilliant people so far,” Mr. Mehta said. “[We’re seeing] lead engineers of the largest tech companies building the biggest products, students that have patents and have graduated from top universities, and Ph.Ds. from around the world. And they’re not just Indian and Chinese—there are Africans, Latin Americans and Europeans.”

Immigrants who come to the U.S. to go to school or work tend to be the top people in their countries, Mr. Pachisia said, and their willingness to leave the comforts of home indicates an unusual drive to succeed.

To attract the best people, Unshackled wants men and women from diverse backgrounds, Mr. Mehta said, because “people align themselves with their cultures.”

Unshackled is open for business on Thursday, and over the next two years plans to invest in between 20 and 25 teams of two or three founders, co-investing alongside the founders at a valuation of $1 million to $2 million.

The response from investors, who come from around the country, has been enthusiastic. About 80% of them have been willing to invest without previously knowing Mr. Pachisia or Mr. Mehta.

“They believe strongly in the same philosophy we believe in—that we’re growing innovation and creating more American jobs. We want to grow the pie,” Mr. Pachisia said.

Investors include First Round Capital, 500 Startups, Structure Capital, Brad Feld of Foundry Group and Techstars, AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, AME Cloud Ventures led by Jerry Yang, and Emerson Collective founded by Laurene Powell Jobs.

Write to Deborah Gage at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at@deborahgage

Posted on January 21, 2015 in structure-capital-news

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