We believe that no matter where you come from or what school you went to, everyone should have equal access to opportunities. We believe that immigrant and first generation founders represent a massive, overlooked opportunity.
As technology becomes a bigger part of New York City’s economy, many of the opportunities that it creates are inaccessible to the majority of New Yorkers. Despite many efforts and initiatives, large parts of the city’s population are structurally left out of this new economy as opportunities accrue to the affluent and well-connected, leaving those without pre-existing networks further behind. According to a recent report, 40% of VCs attended just Harvard or Stanford.
This network concentration puts many immigrants and first-generation founders at a disadvantage, as networks are critical to the likelihood of success for early-stage startups. Immigrant and first-generation founders from less well-off means, and without Ivy League educations, often lack the networks, education, experience, and access to capital - both human and financial. As such, most of the funding continues to stay in the network of the those lucky enough to be a part of those pre-existing networks. As a result, despite many great initiatives, little progress has been made to increase diversity and broaden access to opportunities.
In addition to company building challenges, immigrant and first generation founders face a unique set of challenges:
Lack access to closed networks for capital, customers and resources
Knowledge gaps around various functions of company building
Higher barriers to entry to start companies and access resources
Cultural differences and lack of credibility
Throughout NYC’s history, immigrant and first generation founders contributed to a vibrant economy and created massive job growth. They will continue to drive outsized investment returns and create new markets and products, while increasing diversity in the ecosystem. The numbers speak for themselves:
Despite extreme constraints, 43% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or children of immigrants and 50%+ of startup unicorns had at least one immigrant founder
New York City is home to over 3.2m immigrants which comprise nearly 37.1% of the city population and 44% of its workforce