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Indians top US start-ups amid immigration woes

business Updated: Oct 04, 2012 01:39 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Yashwant Raj

Sachin and Binny Bansal stayed back in India to found online store Flipkart. But many of their ilk left for the US, where Indians continue to lead start-ups by immigrants.

Such as Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari, founder of news aggregation application Pulse.

They are among the 33.2% of immigrant company founders of US companies from India.

Indians founded or co-founded 26% of start-ups all over the US. Immigrants from the UK, China and Taiwan contributed to 7.1%, 6.9%, and 5.8% of the start-ups set up in India.

But that stream of immigrant entrepreneurs is now drying up, writes Vivek Wadhwa, technology entrepreneur and academic, in a book released on Tuesday: The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent.

"There are two likely reasons why the Indian founder percentage has gone up," Wadhwa said. "The first is that there were so many that came here, and the second is that Indians have strong role models, strong mentorship networks, good sources of funding, and strong skills."

Gupta and Kothari came to the US from IIT. They met at Stanford, and teamed up to develop a marketable app as part of a post-degree course - and went on to found a company.

Following in the footsteps of Silicon Valley titans such as Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Desh Deshpande of Sycamore Networks and Kanwal Rekhi, former chief technology officer of Novell.

Wadhwa has said that the number of start-ups, which had historically kept the US ahead of the world, is going down because of 'unreasonably strict' immigration laws.

The number of IITians heading out to the US started declining in 2002 as opportunities opened up at home.

"Of the 2,042 companies we surveyed nationwide, the proportion of immigrant-founded companies had slid from 25.3% to 24.3%," Wadhwa said in his book. Clearly, the rapid growth in immigrant entrepreneurship is stagnating.

Indian immigrants are still holding out. But few of them are striking out on their own.