Innovations & Inspirations

Just another WordPress.com site

Posts Tagged ‘Scott Sandell

Unveiling Innovate for America

with one comment

Almost four hundred years ago, 102 English Pilgrims set sail westward toward an unknown land.  They didn’t know whether they would survive their harsh journey, but they believed so strongly in their pursuit of freedom, and in their hopes for economic prosperity, that they dared to do what very few had done before.  They became one of the first sets of immigrants to arrive at a frontier that would soon become the United States of America.  Over time, the United States became a nation of immigrants—an eclectic cultural collage, a melting pot of ethnic groups, and a vibrant microcosm of the world.

Today, America embraces a full spectrum of heritages, from those whose families have been here for centuries to those who just recently immigrated.  All of us, at essence, are immigrants.  And increasingly it has been immigrants who have empowered our country’s founding promise, and its perhaps most cherished ideal: entrepreneurialism. America has let them innovate, and in return they have innovated for America. In 1784, the second-generation immigrant Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals; and in 2003, first-generation immigrant Elon Musk, who himself was born in South Africa, founded Tesla, building on the shoulders of thousands—if not millions— of inventions and companies launched by immigrants in between.  Today, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 are companies founded by immigrants or their children.   And myriad of America’s most iconic brands are the brainchildren of foreign-born, first-generation Americans. Consider merely Pfizer, Google, and Procter & Gamble as a few examples.

These are the companies, the entrepreneurs, the ideas that make America what it is: a beacon of bold innovation for millions across the globe—a city upon a hill—an inviting shore. And this is the reason I am so thrilled to announce the launch of Innovate for America, a nonprofit aimed at educating Americans about the staggering impact of immigrant entrepreneurs, by measuring the number of jobs they have created.  My co-founders Scott Sandell, Carmen Chang, Chetan Puttagunta, and I reached out to a little over 35 of our friends who are building transformative companies as immigrant founders.  These companies are now sharing the number of active U.S. employees they have hired across multiple locations.  And we are aggregating this data and packaging it into a shareable widget that blazons the total number of jobs enabled by all companies participating.

As the IFA network grows to more companies, and companies hire additional employees, the total number of jobs IFA immigrants have created will continue to rise.  Many of the participating companies, as well as non-immigrant-founded entities, have already begun to place this widget on their homepage.  Incidentally, the Innovate for America widget, as well as its website, workflow, and back-end, were designed by a hard-working team at another immigrant-founded company, Bloomreach.

With the public launch of our effort, today marks the beginning of Innovate for America. Yet already we have mustered 38 venture-backed private companies hailing from over 20 countries, fueling more than 3700 jobs.  This ship has just set sail. And we cannot wait to see how far it goes.

You can read about the launch here in a story covered by The Economist.

My Next Move

with 3 comments

A lot has changed over the past month.  I bought a gym membership in New York, then had to cancel it.  I made some really great friends in the city, then had to have quick good bye dinners over the span of a week.

I have decided to join New Enterprise Associates, or NEA, in Menlo Park.  It all happened really fast; in fact, it happened over the course of essentially 72 hours and most of it in New York, over Skype, and phone calls. And I’m really excited.

The past two years that I’ve been a part of the Bessemer family have been an absolute blessing and privilege for me.  I started in Summer of 2010 as a Summer Analyst in New York and never really left.  I stayed involved during the 2010-2011 school year while working for BVP’s portfolio company, Skybox, and coming into the BVP Menlo Park office multiple times per week.  I was running around the bay area and on my phone all the time speaking with companies, and the day after my graduation from Stanford, we issued an investment recommendation for Snapdeal.  I spent just as much time outside the country (mainly Asia) as in the USA while at BVP, and ended up being actively involved on a number of deals that went through (Matrimony.com, Skybox, and Black Swan Solar) and even more that didn’t.

The more time I spent at Bessemer, the more in awe I became of the people and the firm’s history.  A hundred years is a LOT of time in the venture business, an industry known for its risky investments and high turnover & churn.  And it has everything to do with the type of people that Bessemer hires.  They are some of the most genuine, down-to-earth, caring people in the industry.  They also happen to be really, really good investors.  I wish I could tell you some of their numbers, but all you need to do is look at some of the acquisitions, IPOs, or massive financings from the last year to get a taste: Yelp (IPO), Pinterest (Series A), Millennial Media (Seeded & Series A before IPO),  LinkedIn (IPO), Traffix (acq. F5 Systems), Vertica (acq. HP), OMGPOP (acq. Zynga), Verastem (IPO), and the list goes on!

Leaving wasn’t easy.  I know everyone at the firm, and I have a close personal relationship with a majority of the investment professionals.  It’s never easy to leave a place you love.

Still, every once in an a while, an opportunity comes along that you feel like you have to take.  Something in your gut tells you that the people are something special.  That was the case with NEA.  I’ll be a part of the US tech team (specifically the consumer team, led by Scott Sandell and Tony Florence) and the India team, while continuing to look at other emerging markets.  NEA is an investor in Groupon, Bloom Energy, Workday, and many others.  And they are a really great, welcoming bunch of people.  I could go on about the NEA people and their investments, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

I’m excited for a wild ride ahead.

Written by sheeltyle

May 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm