Inaki Berenguer, the Spanish founder of Klink, a big data startup that structures enterprise, public, and personal data and makes it available in real-time across devices, understands the meaning of "bootstrap." For most entrepreneurs that means being scrappy about first product iterations and sources of investment. For serial entrepreneurs like Inaki, who sold his first company, Pixable, to SingTel for $30 million, bootstrapping also meant sponsoring his own visa. The O-1 visa requires that a person have extraordinary ability. They need to be the best of the best. When your own CV includes a PhD from Cambridge, an MBA from MIT, and a Fulbright at Columbia, not to mention McKinsey and advising Bill Gates, the O-1 seems pretty rational.
In a recent article by Fast Company, "The One Question You Want to Ask If You Want to Recruit The Best Talent Globally," Inaki describes how he's hacked US immigration policy. When the visa requirement states that individuals be "extraordinary," well then that just better informs your hiring needs. For Inaki and Klink, they've scoured the globe for the best of the best. Front end, back end, iOS and Android developers from Bulgaria, Colombia, Venezuela, Portugal, Spain, and other countries. In fact, one of the only drawbacks to hiring people so extraordinary, are the calls upon their time when dignitaries come to town. During UN Week in New York, there were a flurry of OOO notices. Even though half the team slipped out to dine with the King of Spain one evening, they still launched product on-time.
Why pay a recruiter a $20,000 referral fee when you can take the O-1 visa requirements at face value, and simply go hire the smartest people in the world. It's an extraordinary idea, and when visas are cheaper than recruiters, the world just got a bit more global.