Our Investment in Ellis
Immigrants are entrepreneurs. They leave the comfort of their home contexts, take personal risk to seek a better future, in pursuit of an ideal. This risk often means learning a new language, navigating streets and cultures foreign to them, learning a context while trying to compete and live in it. The United States is made up of immigrant entrepreneurs — it was founded by them, is nurtured by them, and continues to sustain in no small part with their contribution.
I arrived to the United States as an immigrant. I was only a baby — my parents were in their twenties. They knew a handful of people, and would meet a handful more thanks to their sponsors, but it was hard. They didn’t know how to get access to money, how to re-build their careers, how to navigate the pay phones (this was a while ago). My parents educated themselves in this country, educated their children, and have educated thousands of Americans. Education — college campuses, in particular — serves as the modern day Ellis Islands for skilled immigration into the U.S.
Each year, 1 million international students are enrolled in United States universities. They navigate complex and archaic systems to access credit, to deposit cash, to get cellphones and and health insurance, and to borrow money. To this day, no company has succeeded in building solutions that are simple and elegant for this population. Enter Ellis.
With as few steps as it takes to create an Instagram account, international students can sign up for a checking account and a debit card. By summer, they’ll be able to get their cellphone plan via Ellis. This team, led by Sampei Omichi, has been building and developing services for this segment faster than any entrepreneur we have seen. They are immigrants, too: they know the space intimately from their lived experiences.
At Kindred Ventures, we believe that visionary founders come from all over the world, and solve the biggest, address the important opportunities with technology. Skilled immigration to the United States is one of the most important, and impactful, opportunities not just for the million immigrants who arrive in this country every year, but for the impact they create as educators, businesspeople, activists, artists, and of course, entrepreneurs.
We are thrilled to partner with the Ellis team in their seed round of financing along with some brilliant co-investors and advisors.
They are, of course, hiring. E pluribus unum!