Marc Nager believes that humans are hardwired for entrepreneurship. “With the right support, almost anyone can start their own business,” he says. And he should know:
As the Chief Community Officer at Techstars, “a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build great businesses,” Nager has helped thousands of businesses get off the ground. Many of these have at least one immigrant founder. “We see a high propensity among immigrants to become serial entrepreneurs,” says Nager.
These individuals and their companies are creating massive societal and economic value, and we need an immigration system that encourages this international entrepreneurship instead of hindering it.
Nager’s own entrepreneurial journey began in early 2009 when the company he was working for shut down. “I suddenly found myself out of a job with no idea what my next step would be,” Nager says. It wasn’t long before he began to toy with the idea of starting his own business. Although Nager has an MBA, he says he “didn’t really know much about actually founding a company.” Then, a friend suggested he attend Startup Weekend—a two-day workshop that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into real companies—and “the light bulb went off.”
Nager went from participating in Startup Weekend to purchasing the entity and turning it into a non-profit that, to date, has held almost 3,000 events in 150 countries. In 2015, Startup Weekend was acquired by Techstars, which Nager says has allowed the company to better support entrepreneurs through “every stage of their non-linear journey.”
In the past years, Nager has worked with hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs—including his Startup Weekend co-founder Franck Nouyrigat, a French immigrant—and his experiences have shaped his belief that immigrants are a “key component” of America’s entrepreneurial movement. Nager, whose father immigrated to the United States from Switzerland, says that the current immigration system hinders the potential impact of immigrants’ entrepreneurial talents. “These individuals and their companies are creating massive societal and economic value,” Nager says, “and we need an immigration system that encourages this international entrepreneurship instead of hindering it.”