Recap: How to Start a Company on a Visa with Manan Mehta

Editor's note: The How to Start a Company on a Visa event received funding from the NYU Entrepreneurs Network Collaboration Fund. The Collaboration Fund provides grants to help promote entrepreneurship across NYU via cross-club collaboration. 

On Thursday, October 17th, Manan Mehta, founding partner of Unshackled Ventures, spoke to the student community at the NYU School of Law. Unshackled Ventures is the first venture capital fund for immigrant founders. Driven by the fact that U.S. immigrants possess incredible entrepreneurial talent and diverse perspectives, Manan’s team invests in immigrants and secures the necessary work-authorization and permanent residency for their founders at no cost. This allows immigrant founders to spend 100% of their time building companies. Unshackled Ventures is backed by some of the most notable investors in the country, including Bloomberg Beta and Emerson Collective. Currently, this fund is managing over $25 million in assets in their sophomore fund.

At this event, students asked questions ranging from “How did you end up in venture capital?” to “What kind of types of entrepreneurs and founders stand out when you are looking to make investment decisions?” and “How do you keep up with your founders to ensure they succeed?” Manan shared his own experiences backing startups with founders on a visa and discussed the best practices in raising pre-seed capital.

Here are a couple things Manan shared with us:

  1. Founders of successful startups have an insatiable curiosity and are constantly trying to answer unknown questions by testing them and collaborating with others.
  2. As a VC, one of the best ways to help startup founders is to listen to them. Do not advise them unless asked upon to do so. Startup founders work day and night to move their company forward, so they have the most information about their milestones and obstacles.

Manan also introduced the Unshackled Ventures University Fellow Program, which recruits students from target campuses from all levels of education to work with Manan’s team throughout the school year. This program is a great opportunity for students seeking to learn much more about a career in VC. Students interested in applying can fill out and submit this form.

Thank you to Manan for taking the time to share your experiences and to offer advice to our student community at NYU! We look forward to celebrating your fund’s continued success.

About the speaker:

Manan is a founding partner of Unshackled Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund for immigrant-founded startups in the U.S. The fund has led marquee investments in driverless trucking, space tech, plant-based proteins, and emotional intelligence. Prior to Unshackled Ventures, Manan ran marketing for ed-tech startup Kno that raised over $90M of funding from top VCs including Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, and Floodgate. The company was acquired by Intel in 2013. Before Kno, Manan was an investment banker at the Royal Bank of Canada, with his most notable deal being the $1.9B acquisition of Skype led by Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz in 2009 — later sold to Microsoft for $8.5B.