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Cheryl Yeoh

My startup Reclip.It is a personalized list-making app featuring weekly ads and digital coupons from top retail stores like Walmart, Macy’s, Walgreens, Target, BestBuy, Home Depot, CVS, and others. The company had raised about $1 million in funding from 500Startups, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and angel investors in Silicon Valley and New York City.

Although I started my company in the United States, I spent the first 18 years of my life in Malaysia. I started my first business when I was 8 years old and had a second profitable business by the age of 16. After high school, I received a full scholarship to study Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at Cornell University and subsequently received another full scholarship to complete my Master’s in Engineering Management at the same institution. I joined the American workforce, working for a total of 4 years for American corporations before receiving my green card.

The idea for my company was conceived in April 2010 while I was still employed as a Senior Associate Consultant at KPMG. For four months, I would come home from my job every day and work until 3 A.M. on my startup idea. Eventually, with the stability of a green card, I was able to quit my job and pursue my startup full-time—working hard with my co-founder to develop the right product, build the right team, and attract the necessary investors.

In spring of 2013, Reclip.It was acquired by Walmart Labs, and the team went on to help tens of millions of people “save more money and live better” using advanced personalization technology, as well as develop new, innovative experiences for the savvy shopper on walmart.com. As the CEO of a tech startup company with a growing team and eventually working with an acquiring entity, I am always on the hunt for the best talent to support my company’s vision, no matter where they were born.

In April 2014, I was invited to be the founding CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), a Malaysian government-funded organization launched by U.S. President Barack Obama in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In collaboration with Stanford University, 500 Startups, Techstars, and the U.S. White House, I spent 2 years building up the technology startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia, launching the region’s largest and most robust equity-free accelerator in addition to many other programs that benefit entrepreneurs in the region, as well as improving bilateral relationships between the United States and Southeast Asia. Now two years later in 2016, I am back in San Francisco to explore my next opportunity, either by starting another company or joining a high-growth startup in Silicon Valley.

I joined the Partnership for a New American Economy because I know that immigrants help create jobs and that all Americans benefit when we attract and keep the world’s talent. I was able to come to America as an aspiring high school graduate in Malaysia and end up as a job-creating entrepreneur in New York City and Silicon Valley. Across the country, I meet other immigrant entrepreneurs, students, and engineers who want to stay here and who have the drive and talent to start or join the next great company. But they simply can’t get the visas they need. The current complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process that it takes for an employer to hire immigrants deters small but growing startups like mine, which I hope to see changed. Smarter immigration laws can ensure that America continues to attract the talent, ideas, and energy we need to generate new ideas, new companies, and new jobs for generations to come.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…