Applications for the fourth round of the International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC) open today.
IN2NYC is a City-led program that helps international entrepreneurs build their businesses in NYC by facilitating collaborative partnerships that qualify entrepreneurs for cap-exempt H-1B visas.
IN2NYC entrepreneurs hail from all over the world, from Italy to Israel to Japan, bringing with them their unique entrepreneurial stories. As we enter our next application period, meet Sascha Eder, an entrepreneur who obtained an H-1B visa through the IN2NYC program.
What’s your background?
I am originally from Germany and studied business administration in my undergrad in Germany and Spain. After that, I completed a one-year Master’s in Business in Paris and worked for one year in Paris and Germany across P&G, BCG, and McKinsey before finally making the move to the US. I completed my second Master’s degree at MIT in entrepreneurship and technology and started as a consultant at McKinsey on the West Coast, helping the world’s largest tech companies define their growth strategies.
What’s your business?
My company is called NewtonX, the world’s first AI-powered knowledge marketplace. The name is derived from Isaac Newton, the philosopher, who said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” We identify with the quote because we see NewtonX as the “shoulder of giants” on which our clients stand, gaining access to the information they need through our knowledge marketplace.
The X is the “edge” we provide by leveraging technology. Our main product is a service by which we leverage our proprietary knowledge graph to connect clients from all industries (consulting, banking, private equity, health care, tech) with experts they need to speak to in order to get insights for critical business decisions they otherwise couldn’t obtain. NewtonX connects clients and experts via their platform to conduct phone interviews, surveys, in-person meetings, and other forms of interaction.
Was New York City always in your plans for growth?
We started off in San Francisco and spent our first six months there connecting with Silicon Valley and the VC landscape. After having made those connections, we realized that it would be more beneficial to be in New York, since the majority of our first client verticals (consulting firms, banks, private equity firms, hedge funds) are based here.
How did you find out about IN2NYC?
I came across IN2NYC while I was searching for a visa that would allow me to stay in the US and launch my company.
Tell us about your IN2NYC experience.
NewtonX has partnered with Queens College. The first time I spoke to Weeks Mensah, Program Director at Queens College, we clicked right away. He understood the NewtonX product and the benefit of Queens College and the company working together.
I’ve given talks on various topics at Queens College, mentored students in their startup pitches, led an entrepreneurship workshop, and most importantly, used the NewtonX platform to help the school itself (e.g., source faculty or help the college build its alumni database). NewtonX has been able to stay connected to the university for recruiting talent and both sides have been able to benefit from mutual synergies.
What hurdles did IN2NYC help you overcome?
Without IN2NYC, I would not have had a reliable work visa to stay and build NewtonX from the ground up. Especially in the early days, it would not have been possible to bootstrap and scale up the company without staying close to it. Without IN2NYC, I would have probably had to start the company in another country and travel back and forth between the US and Europe.
What advice would you give to other early-stage international entrepreneurs?
Stay focused on proving the value proposition of your idea in the market with real customers before you start building a fancy product or service with many features. Start the process manually and bootstrap it—but get early customer feedback or even customer commitments and then build a minimal viable product around it. What you learn from starting manually and collecting feedback quickly will be invaluable. In our case, it allowed us to get crucial insights that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and made us pivot from our initial idea to where we are today.
If you could describe New York City in one word, what would it be?
Interested in IN2NYC? Applications are online from now until February 1, 2019. To apply or to learn more, please visit in2.nyc.