THE BLOG

Driving Growth Through Inclusive Entrepreneurship

This week we recognize August 4th as Startup Day Across America, a time to celebrate entrepreneurs and the jobs they create. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that our entrepreneurs face and explore solutions to allow the best and brightest minds to succeed.

Our country's entrepreneurial spirit and innovative minds are the lifeblood of the American economy.

Our country's entrepreneurial spirit and innovative minds are the lifeblood of the American economy. America's startups are the driving force behind new job creation in the United States. In fact, companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades, fueling both local and national economic growth. From Uber to ZocDoc, startups are behind the technologies and services now a part of the daily lives of many Americans. And these companies no longer exist solely within Silicon Valley -- in fact, Texas ranks fifth highest on the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship.

While the United States continues to provide exceptional opportunities for private organizations to innovate, more can be done to ensure all entrepreneurs, especially immigrant founders, are set up to succeed in America. Representing the public and private sectors, we see this need firsthand. Congressman Castro's San Antonio is one of the top 10 U.S. cities in overall startup activity, and Unshackled Ventures works within our current system, investing in 16 teams with founders born in six different continents.

More can be done to ensure all entrepreneurs, especially immigrant founders, are set up to succeed in America.

Without the necessary support, too many innovators will give up, and too many brilliant ideas will remain unexplored.

As a starting point, we must encourage an inclusive, collaborative entrepreneurship pipeline, so that all aspiring innovators across the country have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and compete with larger corporations. When the playing field is level, the best ideas will win.

We must also connect aspiring innovators with the tools and resources they need to build a startup. In some cases, the resources are already there, and it is simply a matter of linking entrepreneurs to the right network.

Unfortunately, some of the country's most promising entrepreneurs are still struggling to break through. This is particularly true for the U.S. immigrant population. In addition to the challenges of the entrepreneurial journey -- including securing funding and accessing a support network to help them bring their ideas to life -- immigrant entrepreneurs must contend with obstacles such as uncertainty around their ability to stay in the United States long enough to see their idea take hold.

Immigrant entrepreneurs must contend with obstacles such as uncertainty around their ability to stay in the United States long enough to see their idea take hold.

On a larger scale, we cannot exclude or handicap immigrants who are seeking funding for new ventures. To eliminate what can be the biggest barrier to entry, we need to build an immigration system that is designed for individual contributors, not just large businesses. Without a framework that allows us to train and retain the talented thinkers who want to be a part of our country's economy, we will fall behind in the global marketplace.

There is huge opportunity to unlock entrepreneurial potential if we do a better job of ensuring that all entrepreneurs are set up to succeed in America. Empowering every entrepreneur, including those who come from other nations, to participate in America's innovation economy is key to recognizing our country's full economic potential. We've seen the tremendous success that's possible; some of America's most iconic companies were created by immigrants -- Google, AT&T, and Procter & Gamble, for example -- and immigrants and their children founded 40 percent of the companies in the Fortune 500.

The promise of America is what draws the world's dreamers and doers to put their talents and ideas into action here. Allowing immigrants' entrepreneurial energy to take flight isn't just the American way, it's in our nation's best economic interests, spurring the creation of new jobs for American workers and new products for American manufacturers to assemble. Startup Day Across America is a time to celebrate immigrant contributions and recognize the importance of opening avenues of opportunity and innovation to all who call our nation home.

Congressman Joaquin Castro represents Texas' 20th District in the House of Representatives. Manan Mehta and Nitin Pachisia are founding partners of Unshackled Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund that was created in 2014 to support foreign-born entrepreneurs turning their innovative ideas into reality.