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Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs are Abandoning America

In years past, millions of smart, skilled immigrant entrepreneurs – including many from the world’s two most populous countries, China and India – came to the U.S. to get educated and start their own businesses.  Now the turnstiles are rotating the other way.  New research just revealed by the entrepreneurship experts at the highly regarded Kauffman Foundation shows that high-skill entrepreneurs from China and India are exiting the U.S. by the tens of thousands every year.

Why? According to the aptly-named “The Grass is Indeed Greener…” study, it’s because of better professional and economic opportunities in their home countries.  “At the same time the US economic downturn has diminished opportunities for these high-skilled professionals, recent economic and political reforms in their home countries have expanded the appeal of entrepreneurship there,” says Robert Litan, VP of research at Kauffman. “Individual entrepreneurs aren’t driven to maintain the broader economic environment. Instead, they pursue opportunities where the ‘grass is greener.’  The lesson for the United States is that regions that support entrepreneurship will remain important hubs in today’s global economy.”

Wakeup call anyone?  Factors that once drove the vast majority of US-educated immigrants to stay in America rather than return home have given way to startup-friendly business environments in India, China and a variety of other countries. Most returnees say the entrepreneurial advantages have reversed and are now better in their home countries, where their businesses can benefit from lower operating costs, better professional recognition, greater access to local markets and a higher quality of life than they could attain in the US. 

Here are some key findings of the Kauffman “Grass is Greener” study:

  • More than 60% of Indian and 90% of Chinese respondents cited economic opportunities in their home countries as a key factor in motivating the return home.
  • Returnees take pride in contributing to economic development in their home countries. More than 60% of Indians and 51% of Chinese rated this as very important.
  • 56% of Indians and 59% of Chinese said their quality of life back home was better or equal to what they experienced in America.
  • In China, 76% ranked access to local markets as very important. In India, 64% did.
  • Higher salaries were the only advantage the respondents attributed to the US. Sixty-four percent of Indian respondents said their salaries were better in the United States than at home. Forty-three percent of Chinese respondents said that salaries were higher in the United States, while 20 percent said they were about the same.

Click this link for access to the full report in PDF.

Why You Should Join Startup America Partnership

The Startup America Partnership is new and largely unknown, but this independent, private-sector coalition of corporate tech titans, advisors, financing firms, mentors and sundry service providers won’t be undiscovered for long.  Any business owner or entrepreneur – from startup (newly created), to rampup (initial growth stage), to speedup (going like gang busters) – should be ready to tap this free resource when the help starts flowing.

The way in will be through a free Startup America membership (via application) that isn’t yet available, but will be soon.  So sign up now to be notified by email when details on the membership application process are released.    

The group’s mission is mighty:  To inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship in the U.S. with services, product discounts, special access, resources, connections and “insider information” from a start-studded lineup of business power hitters.   It’s not a loan or grant program, do ditch that thought. Because Startup America is still starting up itself, most of what’s coming is still in development.  But here’s a sampling of what’s coming:   

  • Google will provide up to $100 million worth of online advertising to Startup America Partnership member companies to over the next year.
  • Intuit will offer special discounts on its flagship products and services, including QuickBooks Online, Intuit Payroll Services, QuickBooks Merchant Services and Intuit Websites. Value: $37 million
  • Angel Capital Association (ACA) and Angel Resource Institute (ARI) will double the number of high caliber investors in angel groups across the country, increasing annual investment by $1 billion.  Qualifying Startup America Partnership member companies will be matched with angel investor mentors to build their success in starting and growing their businesses.
  • will provide products and technology to power Startup America Partnership member companies. This includes CRM, a collaboration platform, a resource catalog built on, and a workflow engine to connect entrepreneurs with resources from private-sector partners.    
  • The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) will create the NVCA / Startup America Partnership Network, providing access to its 400 venture capital firms, 4,000 investors and thousands of venture-backed company CEOs via events around the country; and will provide access to, a free online jobs board for member companies.
  • American Express OPEN will provide special access and advantaged pricing for products and services to help businesses attract and retain customers and improve cash flow. Estimated value: $125 million
  • Cisco will provide training (through intermediaries trained and supported by Cisco) to approximately 6,000 entrepreneurs within 50 cities by January 2014.  Estimated value: $3 million.
  • Ernst & Young (EY) will provide access to EY professionals and the firm’s Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) network as advisors and mentors, plus on-line resources and other analytical tools.  Estimated value: $7.5 million.
  • First Data, a major electronic commerce and payment processing firm, will offer discounts on processing services including credit and debit acceptance as well as point-of-sale terminals to Startup America Partnership member companies.
  • HP will offer discounts on laptops, desktops, workstations, Palm smart phones, tablets, printers, wireless routers, servers and more to Partnership members.  Estimated savings for startups will be $100 million over three years.   
  • IndieGoGo, a platform for raising money online via “crowd sourcing,” will offer a 50% discount on campaign fees on the site and feature members on the company’s website.
  • LinkedIn will provide a special platform for Startup America members to build an identity and grow a network. LinkedIn will also contribute training, services, and products to members.
  • Microsoft will offer its BizSpark program to all qualified software startups.  BizSpark provides access to Microsoft software free for three years including support, training and access to Windows Azure, Microsoft’s Cloud Services Platform.  Participants are also connected to a global network of 700,000 mentors, partners and investors. 

AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the partnership and the Kauffman and Case Foundations are founding partners, providing initial funding and strategic guidance.  

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