Harvinder Singh knows all sides of the tech industry. Originally from northern India, Singh was hired in 1998 on an H-1B visa as a software engineer to help prepare for Y2K. After the millennium arrived without incident, Singh was out of a job, but he didn’t want to go back to India. Still on the H-1B visa, he spent some time job-hunting before being invited back by the company who had originally hired him. There, he worked as a technology recruiter, finding great success in this new field. But what Singh really wanted to focus on was usability in technology – that is, making websites, apps, cell phones, and other software easier to use and more intuitive. So in 2005, he started Bestica, an information technology staffing and consulting company in San Antonio, Texas that has both engineers and behavioral specialists like cognitive psychologists on staff to help companies improve the consumer’s user experience. Bestica was successful immediately; it was profitable in year one and has grown every year since. It didn’t take long for many industry giants to understand the importance of usability either – Bestica’s clients include Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo!, and E-Trade, among others.
But throughout this continued success, Singh was having trouble finding a way to stay in this country. It took him four years to get a green card, in part because he had to prove definitively that there were not unemployed Americans who could do his job. “If you bring in the right skill set,” says Singh, “this country has an amazing infrastructure to help you grow — in terms of opportunities, in terms of support, in terms of mentoring and coaching, and in terms of the solid business principles that this country has established to become a world leader.” But, he says, the process was arduous. It was another five years before he got his citizenship, and until that happened Bestica couldn’t grow further. Singh says that government contracts would allow his company to expand dramatically, hire more employees and generate millions more in revenue. But in order to pass security clearances, he needed to be a citizen. An almost decade-long process led Singh to where he is today: A hugely successful business owner and U.S. citizen with 25 employees and more than $3 million in revenue. “If this process can be shortened then the cycle of success [will be] much faster,” he says. “If people can get to this country as an entrepreneur and start their business here, there is so much to gain.”