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Are Immigrants More Entrepreneurial?

A few weeks ago I was on a panel at Investor Business Forum when one of the venture investors attending the session asked "why is it that we see more entrepreneurs and even companies we fund founded by immigrant entrepreneurs"? I answered the question and it is not hard to understand why it is so. From 1513, when the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon discovered Florida to French and German emigration in mid 19th century to emigration of Russians in late 19th century, Italians in early 20th century and Asians in mid 20th century, America has been the land of opportunity that has attracted talent, labor and intellectual capital from all over the world. And I would argue this has been the major driver behind the growth that has made America the super-power it is today.

Is the intellectual capital in America dried up? Of course not. But what makes immigrants more entrepreneurial? Well, you need not analyze anything beyond the basic human traits to understand. Here is my attempt to summarize using the following points:

  1. Immigrants are risk-takers. Fairly obvious because they leave their comfort zone (their home country) to try something foreign.
  2. They are ambitious. They are not satisfied with the status quo, they like to challenge the status quo. They want to do more, accomplish more whether it is economic or non-economic in nature.
  3. They adapt. Settling in a new enviroment, a new culture, language and lifestyle takes lot of adapting.
  4. They work hard. Most immigrants start from the scratch. They work hard to achieve their goals.

Well, these are all the attributes you need in an entrepreneur to start a new busness and navigate the choppy waters of entrepreneurship making adjustments along the way. These traits come naturally to come people and don't to others. No, it is not abnormal. We are dealing with a self-selected pool of people with these required traits. Let the entrepreneurship flourish, we all have a lot to do. We at Retrevo definitely do!


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