Coming to America

Immigration, Entrepreneurship, and the Economy

September 24, 2012

Highlights from the Event


On September 24, 2012, VentureOutNY hosted Coming To America, a conference on immigration and its impact on entrepreneurship and the economy. Featuring leaders Congressman, CEOs, members of the Obama and Bloomberg administrations, our speakers discussed the economics of immigration, pending US legislation, and progressive immigration policies abroad as models for future US policy.


Below you will find pictures and videos from the event as well as biographies on our esteemed panelists and speakers. If you have any comments or questions we would love to hear your feedback here.



Why Immigration?

  • The New York tech community’s political agenda often focuses on net neutrality but immigration reform is just as important.
  • Although 25 percent of successful tech startups over the last decade have been founded or co-founded by immigrants, existing immigration policies make it difficult for foreign-born entrepreneurs to establish their businesses in the US.
  • See the Startup Act 2.0 Infographic here.

Past Speakers

Jeremy Robbins

Policy Advisor and Special Counsel, NYC Office of the Mayor Bloomberg & Executive Director, Partnership for a New American Economy

Jeremy Robbins is a Policy Advisor and Special Counsel in the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, the bipartisan coalition of more than 450 business leaders and mayors making the case that smarter immigration laws will help our companies better compete and create American jobs. Prior to joining New York City government, Jeremy clerked for a federal appellate judge, practiced law at a large national law firm, and worked on human rights issues in Argentina. Jeremy holds a B.A. from Brown University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Economics of Immigration

Liz Elkiss

Counselor to the Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service

Liz Elkiss currently serves the Obama Administration as Counselor to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In this role, her portfolio includes a variety of employment-based and high skilled immigration issues. Liz also leads USCIS's pioneering Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative, which pairs top private sector talent with government experts on a team to streamline agency policies and practices related to startups and foreign entrepreneurs. Prior to USCIS, Liz practiced law at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. Liz is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan law school.

USCIS Entrepreneurship-In-Residence Initiative

Rep. Michael Grimm

Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives

Michael Gerard Grimm [R-NY] is the U.S. Representative for New York's 13th congressional district, which consists of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, and a member of the Republican Party. He is a former FBI agent, businessman, and Marine, having served in the Gulf War. Michael Grimm was born in Brooklyn and was raised in Queens. He graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in 1988, received a BBA in accounting from M. Baruch College in 1994, and received a Juris Doctor (Magna Cum Laude) from New York Law School in 2002

Current U.S. Immigration Policy & The Startup Act

Robert Greifeld


Since joining NASDAQ in May 2003, Greifeld has taken steps to sharpen the company's strategic direction, focusing its mission on being the premier U.S. equities market. The market's focus is to provide the most efficient, transparent trading platform for investors by leveraging NASDAQ's advanced trading technology; to capture the majority of U.S. IPOs and attract listings from competitive exchanges.

Current U.S. Immigration Policy & The Startup Act

Dario Mutabdzija

Co-Founder & President, Blueseed

Dario is theCo-Founder & President of Blueseed. Blueseed is the upcoming startup community on a cruise ship stationed in Silicon Valley’s international waters. Dario studied and/or worked in Hawaii, China, California, Austria and Bosnia. He received his J.D. and LL.M. in Transnational Business Practice from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento CA, and the University of Salzburg in Austria. Prior to Blueseed, Dario served as Director of Legal Strategy for The Seasteading Institute. He is passionate about connecting people and businesses around the world.

Immigration Innovation: Blueseed

Brendan Ryan

Partner & Managing Director of Global Operations, Fragomen Global

As Managing Director, Global Operations, Brendan holds senior executive responsibility for a range of Fragomen’s international operations. This includes Fragomen's practices in Canada, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom and our correspondent office in France. Brendan has contributed to several policy and legislative reviews for governments, including preparing testimony for the U.S. Congress and testifying before numerous Australian Senate committees on immigration legislative reform. Prior to joining Fragomen, Brendan was the Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Australian Global Visa Solutions practice. Brendan also has extensive Australian Government experience, including three diplomatic postings to the Philippines, Hong Kong and India; and three years working as the Departmental Advisor to the Minister for Immigration, Parliament House, Canberra.

Immigration Models Abroad & Future Immigration Policy

Richard Remillard

Executive Director, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA)

Richard is the Executive Director of the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. He is also heavily involved in the drafting of the original "entrepreneur's visa" in Canada, an policy innovation that has greatly benefited Canada. Prior to joining the CVCA in 2003, Richard was President of R C G, a financial services management consulting firm he founded. He has also been a Vice-President of the Canadian Bankers Association, a Special Assistant to the federal Minister of Finance, a Public Affairs Manager with Bank of Montreal and a lecturer at Concordia University. Richard holds degrees from McGill University and the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed the Canadian Securities Institute course. Richard speaks English and French and lives in Ottawa.

Immigration Models Abroad & Future Immigration Policy

Kate Hipwell

Regional Director of the Americas, UK Border Agency

Kate Hipwell is the UK Border Agency's Regional Director for the Americas based at the British Consulate General in New York, managing UK visa operations in locations across North America, South America and the Caribbean. Kate has over 10 years experience in UK Government both in policy and operational roles, with an emphasis on immigration and border control. Previous roles include Private Secretary to the British Home Secretary and, most recently, Chief Operating Officer for UKBA at Heathrow Airport. Kate is a graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK and the Université de Caen in France. She has lived in New York City since 2010.

Immigration Models Abroad & Future Immigration Policy

John Frankel

Partner, Board Member, ff Venture Capital, Clearpath Immigration

John Frankel has been an early-stage venture investor since 1999. Mr. Frankel was one of the earliest investors in Quigo Technologies, which was purchased by AOL in December 2007, and in Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD on NASDAQ), which had a successful IPO in March 2011. He has also served and/or now serves on the boards of 500px, Adcade, Apparel Media Group, AppyCouple,, Centzy, ClearPath Immigration, Infochimps, InteraXon, Gobbler, Klout,,,, Quigo Technologies, StrongTech, The Goldman Sachs Trust Company,, VolunteerSpot and Voxy. He is also a Mentor with the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator program. He worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. for 21 years in a variety of roles that involved technology development, reengineering, and capital markets. In particular, he established Goldman’s Cayman offshore administration business, their London global custody business, and reengineered their global prime brokerage business. In capital markets, he worked closely with some of the world’s leading hedge funds, and developed a keen understanding of portfolio risk/return management. He started his business career with Arthur Anderson & Co. in the audit and insolvency divisions.

Immigration Models Abroad & Future Immigration Policy