Tag Archives: Business Immigration

Why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant?

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You are an international entrepreneur and want to start a business abroad. You may dread the various legal, commercial and perhaps cultural challenges ahead of you. Obtaining a visa, albeit a significant milestone, is only your first hurdle. I know how this situation feels as I have been in your shoes.  I became an international entrepreneur in the UK following the competition of my master’s degree at Newcastle University. At the time, I identified a gap in the student housing market, which resulted in conceptualising and founding my former venture, StudyFlats.  Within 4 years, I grew StudyFlats to 30+ UK cities, a team of four and we almost closed our first funding round until the lovely events of 2020 squashed the entire company (yes, painful). Nevertheless, I still obtained my Settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, also known as permanent residency. Throughout this entire time, I was fortunate to have friends and a powerful network to help me overcome some of the challenges facing every international entrepreneur. This was especially the case as I started StudyFlats with less than £500 and proofread students’ assignments in the first year to support myself and my business.  However, not every international entrepreneur may have the network that I had. Moreover, I still had to make a lot of mistakes and go through extreme financial and mental pressure to grow my business. Yet, I could not identify a business consultant who specialised in working with overseas entrepreneurs (and decided to be the first one myself by the end of 2022). Let me tell you a little truth: as an international entrepreneur, you are at a disadvantage. You are taking risks and are also investing your key resources, time and money. If it fails, you are the only one losing.  Risk is a core part of entrepreneurship, regardless of what type of entrepreneur you are. However, the risk is even greater when you are an entrepreneur and also have to comply with immigration rules and milestones.  And this is one of the reasons why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant.  Working with a consultant such as myself will help you in the following ways: Minimising risk  My first advice to any entrepreneur is to have a thorough understanding of the market in which they seek to operate.  This requires: Many international entrepreneurs lack one or both of the above, and it often results in disaster.  The right business consultant will help you minimise risk as they possess both of the above factors.  Cultural gap  In life, and especially in business, everything boils down to relationships.  You may neglect this factor. However, if you fail to communicate with your stakeholders the right way, you are destined to fail.  The way business is conducted differs in each country. You may be a skilled entrepreneur, yet lack the cultural grasp of doing business in a country other than yours. Business consultants who work with international entrepreneurs (at least the right ones) will comprehend the importance of this point. Additionally, they will be able to help you successfully navigate the cultural landscape.  Commercial expertise  Entrepreneurship is a game of unlimited challenges. You fix one aspect, and the other crumbles. This is a brutal reality that you must accept.  Additionally, various considerations must be taken into account. Let’s look at a few: By working with a business consultant, you will delegate some of these to them. This is not only sensible from a business perspective, but also essential for you to be able to overcome the personal and professional challenges that you will have to face.  These are some of the reasons why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant.  If you are an international entrepreneur and want to work with a consultant, get in touch with me today. I am the UK’s first and #1 independent business consultant who has been through the immigration journey himself.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses.

Innovator Founder Visa Rejection | 4 reasons

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The risk of an Innovator Founder visa rejection is on the rise. This is not a surprise as the new visa, in contrast to the former Innovator visa, now permits applicants to engage in paid employment. As such, this has led to increased interest and demand for the Innovator Founder visa.  Disclaimer: none of the content in this article or my services constitutes immigration advice or services. In addition to increased demand, the current Innovator Founder visa can only be endorsed by 4 Endorsing Bodies, a far smaller number than the previous visa. As a business consultant working with international entrepreneurs, I have come across Innovator Founder visa rejection cases that relate to the endorsement stage. Moreover, I have also actively monitored the Innovator Founder visa’s rejections. These are 3 common reasons why your Innovator Founder visa endorsement application may be rejected.  1. Your idea is not innovative   As you may be aware, there are 3 key factors that Endorsing Bodies assess when considering endorsement applications, which are: Let’s talk about the innovation aspect first. Technically speaking, your idea/business should: 2. Your business is not viable  Notice that I did not use the word “idea” in the heading above?  The “viability” aspect refers to “you”, the founder/founding team. The core requirement is whether you have the skills and competencies to start and scale the business or not. Thus, factors such as your professional experience or qualifications will be relevant.  3. Your idea is not scalable Put simply: what is the vision for your business? How far will it go? How much money will it make? You may have a unique concept and have the personal skills to launch the business, but how big will the business get? If your business cannot scale nationally or internationally, it may be one of the reasons for a rejection of your Innovator Founder visa endorsement. 4. You bought a bad Innovator Founder visa business plan  I write business plans for my clients (up to a limit, as they take a lot of time and I write each plan myself). Therefore, I am aware that many founders will seek the help of external parties for their business plan. Sadly, the market is now full of business plan writers who simply either use ChatGPT, or hire people with no experience in business to write a low-quality plan.  This is why I have introduced a service to coach and mentor founder to writer their own business plan. I understand that for some, it may be necessary to have somebody else communicate their business.  However, writing your own business plan will give you more confidence in presenting it, and it will also improve several skills such as writing and design. And do not worry, I will help you with ALL of that.  These are some common reasons behind an Innovator Founder Visa rejection at the endorsement stage. Remember, do not trust every company or person to be in charge of your business ideas and endorsement application, unless you can verify their credentials. Even then, you should make sure that you are aware of every aspect and stage of the business plan whilst it is written.  Need help with the Innovator Founder visa endorsement? Check out my services, designed specifically for founders like you. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses.

How I started a tech startup with £500 & scaled it to 30+ UK cities

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Following the completion of my master’s degree, I founded a tech startup called StudyFlats. Within 3 years, I scaled this PropTech company to over 30 UK cities, with a client base in over 50 countries.  As a solo non-technical founder, the idea for StudyFlats seemed far-fetched at first. My business idea was first put to the test when I spoke to Newcastle University. I was an international student in the UK on a visa and therefore had to obtain the correct visa.  I pitched the idea to Newcastle University and managed to receive an endorsement for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa scheme. This was the former equivalent of the former Startup Visa in the UK.  The first year  The first year was one of the most difficult years of my life. I was a 22-year-old graduate, with a laptop and £500 in my bank account. Not to mention that I had no coding knowledge/background and thus could not create the website myself.  I was getting quotes upwards of £10,000 from agencies to create StudyFlats’ website. Needless to say, these were not an option and I was stuck.  At the same time, a very dear friend of mine from University, introduced me to a developer who agreed to complete the backend functionalities, whilst I learnt the other parts, especially SEO as I knew I’d heavily rely on it.  In the meantime, I was proofreading students’s assignments and dissertations to fund the business and my daily expenses (living in a single room with shared toilets that year was no fun at all).  The lesson that I learnt was: where there’s a will there’s a way. I had no option but to grow this company despite all the hurdles.  The second & third years year  In the second and third years, things began to improve.  By the second year, StudyFlats operated in 10 cities. However, this is also when a major competitor began scaling with £70m of funding! It is also worth noting that StudyFlats worked with contractors/freelancers during the second year. Hence, there was no “team” at this point and I essentially did everything that was needed.  However, I adopted 2 strategies that gained a unique competitive advantage for StudyFlats, which was integral to its growth. These were: By the end of 2019, we were a team of five, operated across 30+ UK cities, consulted 1000+ students from 50+ countries, and had investors approaching us themselves.  March 2020: goodbye And this is where the brutal reality hits: you can do everything right and things can still go south.  With the events of 2020, I was reluctant to maintain the company’s operations for that period as it seemed extremely unpredictable and possibly a recipe for liability.  Additionally, we needed cash to maintain the company’s operations, yet this was simply not possible as we paused our operations. By 2021, I considered relaunching the company’s operations. However, after considering several factors including the desire to do what I do now as a consultant, I made the very difficult decision that every founder resents. However, I see StudyFlats as a learning experience, the driver of my settlement in the UK and an opportunity that was missed due to factors outside my control. We live and learn, it is what it is.  Starting and scaling a (tech) startup is not for the faint-hearted. It involves pain, uncertainty, disappointment, rejection and loneliness. But in the end, it can all be worth it, as it was in my case.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

Why immigrant entrepreneurs are important to the UK

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As a former international founder in the UK, I have written several articles about immigrant entrepreneurs. In this one, I will look at their importance from a UK perspective. The UK’s political and economic landscape has rapidly shifted in the last decade. Moreover, preserving its benefits for international entrepreneurs is vital to the UK’s future success.  Immigrants are much more likely to become entrepreneurs. This is a hypothesis that I examined in several other articles on my blog, most notably: In the context of the UK, the key points covered in my previous research may be applicable. However, identifying the importance of immigrant entrepreneurs to the UK benefits from highlighting the key factors signifying this importance.  These are namely: Global challenges We live through a historical period in which the problems facing humanity are, by their nature, global.  Examples include international terrorism, climate change and so on.  As we are on the topic of climate change, allow me to introduce you to the concept of “climate refugees”  For many, the issue of migration and displacement is automatically contextualised as a political one. However, this is an incomplete perspective and ignores the increasing roles of other issues such as climate change.  According to a report published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there will be an estimated 25 million to 1 billion displaced people, solely due to climate change, by 2050.  Additionally, UNESCO has predicted that displacement will be a primary cause of displacement within the following decades.  << Read full report>>  By 2050, there will be between 25 million to 1 billion displaced people due to climate conditions. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Innovations & new solutions   Global challenges require global solutions. Restrictive measures, enacted through policy and other means, pose the risk of harming global innovation.  Immigrants, nomads and displaced people are problem-solvers by nature. Their realities are formed by unique events and challenges. The latter are beyond what is interpreted as “ordinary” for most people in the “developed” world. For instance, let us look at an article by Stanford Graduate School of Business.  The article examines 880,000 patent registrations between 1990 & 2016. The research found that patents by immigrants outmeasured the native groups both statistically and in terms of quality. Despite comprising only 16% of inventors, immigrants were responsible for 23% of patents issued. This study may be contextually and geographically limited to a specific area/nation.  However, it supports the broader argument that innovation and creativity are skills that are highly evident among migrants and displaced people.  The succeeding point about immigrant entrepreneurs in the UK will support this hypothesis.  Immigrant entrepreneurs behind the UK’s top companies  Similar to the US, immigrant entrepreneurs in the UK proportionally outsize the local population.  In a research/study conducted by The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN), it was observed that foreign-born founders or co-founders accounted for 39% of the top 100 fastest-growing enterprises in the UK. The UK’s global position  The UK’s global standing as an entrepreneurial ecosystem and a business-friendly nation is closely tied to immigrant entrepreneurs. This connection remains significant in the long term. Therefore, the formation and structure of the UK’s visa policy hold critical importance. Immigrants, nomads and displaced people show high tendencies towards entrepreneurship. This is inherently valuable and must be utilised for the betterment of the world. However, the current global visa regime has a long road to adapt to the premise of immigrant entrepreneurship. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies. References

Advisory Programs now LIVE

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In today’s dynamic business landscape, personalized guidance and support are invaluable assets on the path to success. Recognizing the diverse needs of individuals and enterprises, my tailored advisory programs are designed to empower migrants, founders, and enterprise alike. Let’s delve into how these programs can unlock potential, foster growth, and drive innovation. Empowering Founders Entrepreneurship is a journey fraught with challenges and opportunities. The programs equip founders with the tools and insights they need. Whether to navigate the complexities of employment or scaling a venture. From refining business models to accessing funding and market expansion strategies, I work hand-in-hand with founders to turn visions into reality. With personalised mentorship and actionable guidance, I empower founders to build resilient and impactful businesses. Empowering Migrants For migrants navigating new territories, my advisory programs offer a roadmap to prosperity. From navigating cultural nuances to accessing opportunities, I provide personalised strategies and mentorship to facilitate integration and success. By harnessing individual strengths and aspirations, I help migrants to thrive in their new environments and contribute meaningfully to society. Empowering Enterprise Innovation lies at the heart of every successful enterprise. The advisory programs offer tailored solutions to drive innovation, growth, and competitive advantage. Whether it’s optimizing operations, exploring new markets, or fostering a culture of innovation, I partner with enterprises to unlock their full potential. Through strategic guidance and implementation support, I enable enterprises to stay ahead of the curve and seize opportunities in an ever-evolving marketplace. At the core of my advisory programs lies a commitment to empowerment, growth, and impact. By tailoring my approach to the unique needs of migrants, founders, and enterprise, I unlock new possibilities and drive sustainable success. Join me on this transformative journey and unlock your full potential today! About My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats.I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (similar to the current Start-Up Visa). Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (which was replaced by the Innovator Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other entrepreneurs start their businesses.

Don’t make this mistake with Business and Startup Visas

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Business and startup visas and international entrepreneurs are what and who I deal with on a daily basis. As someone who has embarked on the path of business visas as a foreign entrepreneur, I have learned a few lessons. Disclaimer: none of the content in this article, or website, constitute immigration advice in any shape or form. For professional immigration advice, please refer to a regulated immigration advisor or solicitor. If you are an international entrepreneur considering applying for a business or startup visa, there are quite a few things to consider. This may be one of the biggest challenges with foreign entrepreneurs. Starting a business is always hard work; add it to navigating immigration rules and you are bound to get things wrong.  As such, in this article, I seek to prevent foreign entrepreneurs from making ONE fatal mistake, and that is underestimating the requirements of business and startup visas.  Business & Startup visas may come with ongoing requirements Remember that under many visa paths such as the UK’s Innovator Founder Visa, there are ongoing milestones that founders must meet.  In other words, getting a business or startup visa is just the beginning.  Where do founders get it wrong? With the above in mind, founders usually underestimate startup and business visa requirements by either: These two mistakes can end up costing you money, time, energy and your health. It is vital that founders who consider startup and business visas are aware of this reality.  Startup and business visas are not the means to obtain long-term residency/citizenship.  It may be in certain countries, but it certainly is not the case with the UK’s Innovator Founder Visa.  Remember to assess everything from a “business” perspective, rather than a “residency/immigration” one.  What if residency is your goal? Entrepreneurship is not everyone’s forté, and I am not judging you for that.  Perhaps you do wish to invest in commercial projects whilst obtaining an additional residency or citizenship. In these cases, it is better to consider residency or citizenship by investment programs offered by several countries across the world.  Do not pursue a business or startup visa if your main priority is residency. Running a business has many uncertainties, and it should always be done for the purpose of generating profit unless we are speaking of non-profits.  Any other goal is foundationally wrong for doing so.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

What moving abroad alone as a 17-year-old immigrant taught me

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I will always consider myself an “immigrant”, partly because I refuse any negative connotation in relation to this term; I was born and raised in Iran. At the age of 17, I packed my entire life and got on a plane to the UK in pursuit of further education, all alone.  Well, every story starts somewhere, and my immigration story began shortly after I finished High School in Iran. Initially, I moved to Manchester on a student visa to attend college/pre-university preparation. My educational journey came to an end when I was 22 and obtained my master’s degree in law from Newcastle University.  Shortly after, I developed a business idea based on my experience with renting accommodation as an international student, which later became StudyFlats. This idea was supported by Newcastle University and got me a 1-year visa as a graduate international entrepreneur.  Subsequently, I obtained a three-year visa (which led to my settlement after it ended). During this period, I scaled StudyFlats to over 30 UK cities, hired a team of four and managed a global client base across property sites around the UK.  Going through the business immigration journey was one of the most difficult journeys that I could embark on. It profoundly changed my worldview, self-perspective and professional skill set.  There are some big lessons that I learnt along the way. My hope is for these to resonate with others experiencing the same hardships or learning curve, and to raise awareness of the immigration narrative from an entrepreneurial and personal perspective.  You are at a disadvantage, in many things… Yes, this is a fact, nor is this some “woke/snowflake” rant. Racism, discrimination and prejudice exist in the UK. They can be witnessed within many fabrics of the society, such as: -Housing -Employment  -Healthcare  -Media  Of course, each person’s experience is unique. One individual may only encounter discrimination and racism in one area but not necessarily in another.  The argument is that discrimination exists and it can become a professional and personal barrier. Personally, I may have been lucky or privileged to not experience many of these. However, the journey of being an immigrant certainly taught me about what discrimination looks like. You think more about the world  One side effect of a multinational and global personal perspective is that it forces you to think more.  You compare different nations and question how and why they come to differ. This will lead to even more questions.  How did they come to differ? What differentiates the two societies and the way they are administered?  These are examples of questions that you may have, and it’s a good thing.  These questions, and comparative outlook, will contribute to your growth and level of knowledge.  The question of “identity” This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of being an immigrant, or you could also say a “global citizen”.  Once you spend long enough in another country/ your new “home”, you will undergo a series of changes.  After a while, it just seems like you don’t fully belong anywhere. Your identity is now a reflection of different, and sometimes contrasting, viewpoints.  Whilst inconvenient, such experiences will either make or break you.  These are some of the things that I learnt as an immigrant who moved to the UK alone at the age of 17…Now I help other aspiring global citizens start their businesses abroad. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats which I scaled to over 30 UK cities. I currently help other entrepreneurs and businesses of all size across several domains. For my credentials, please see here.

The general costs of running a limited company in the UK

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If you want to start a business in the UK, one of the most common ways is through incorporating a limited company.  There are various business structures in the UK that one may start a business through. The most common ways are: It is ultimately up to you to decide which structure fits you best. Each has its own tax implications and regulatory requirements.  However, assuming that you wish to start a limited company in the UK, below are some of the costs that you will incur. Accounting  Limited companies require the director(s) to submit annual accounts. Preparing and filing a limited company’s accounts, in most cases, will require an accountant’s assistance.  The costs of an accountant can vary based on:  Generally, you can expect to pay your accountant anywhere between £500-£2000 per year.  These are broad estimates, and you may even have to pay more in certain circumstances.  Registered address UK limited companies require a registered address. If you have an office, then that address will suffice.  However, if you do not have an office, there are two options: Confirmation statement Limited companies are required to file a Confirmation Statement every year, which costs £13.  On many occasions, this fee will be covered by your accountant as part of their services. Company incorporation Depending on how you incorporate your company, there is an incorporation fee.  The cost can range from £10 to £40. Corporation tax This will depend on whether your UK limited company makes a profit.  Currently, the UK’s corporation tax rate is per below: 19% : for limited companies with profits between 0-£50,000  25%: for limited companies with profits above £250,000  For full information, please refer to the UK Government’s website. These are some of the general costs of running a UK limited company.  If you are planning to start a business in the UK and need help, get in touch with me to start your journey today. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats which I scaled to over 30 UK cities. I currently help other entrepreneurs and businesses of all size across several domains. For my credentials, please see here.

What you should NOT do when writing an Innovator Founder visa business plan

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Writing an Innovator Founder visa business plan can be challenging. That’s one of the reasons why many international founders opt to work with me on their Innovator Founder visa business plan.  This article solely represents a case of personal evaluation and opinion. It shall by no means constitute immigration and/or professional advice. If you plan to apply for the Innovator Founder visa, you must prepare a business plan. I have previously written an article about how to create an Innovator Founder visa business plan. In this article, I want to share some tips on writing an Innovator Founder visa business plan. Specifically, I will be highlighting things that you should NOT do when you are planning your venture.  Remember: the perfect business plan does not boil down to being well-written or well-designed (although these are also essential). Writing the ideal Innovator Founder visa business plan requires a well-thought, viable and clear business proposition.  These tips will help you in formulating both your business plan, as well as some of the fundamental aspects of your business planning.  Overpromise  This is one of the biggest mistakes made by founders. Sadly, international entrepreneurs are not exempt either.  And it’s easy to understand why: you want to present the “ideal” image for your concept, whether it’s to the Innovator Founder Endorsing Bodies, the Home Office or even investors. However, this is a dangerous mistake, especially if you are held accountable for making progress against your initial Innovator Founder visa business plan.  Underestimate your competition & market dynamics In line with the last point, some founders also underestimate their market and competition.  This may be done either intentionally, to present an inaccurate/idealistic image of the market, or unintentionally as a result of personal neglect.  Overestimate your offer This is an advice that you may not get from many consultants.  Remember: simplicity is key. Keep everything as simple and straightforward as possible. Don’t write pages and pages about why your product is ideal and what it does. Instead, dedicate your content to presenting evidence of your venture and the market’s viability.  Neglect the financials  Cash flow and financial management are integral to every business. You must plan for and state all instances of incoming and outgoing cash flow.  Have a plan B for every scenario and determine the financial implications of all scenarios.  Need help with writing your Innovator Founder visa business plan? Read about my full services here to find out more.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses.

Is the “innovation” requirement of the Innovator Founder visa flawed? | Policy Analysis

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This article solely represents a case of personal evaluation and opinion. It shall by no means constitute immigration and/or professional advice. Policymakers are particularly invited to engage with this content and communicate their views accordingly.  The innovation factor is a core and integral element of the Innovator Founder visa policy. However, is this requirement flawed? In this article, I will highlight the potential drawbacks and flaws of the innovation requirement.  Unlike the former UK business visa schemes such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur scheme, the Innovator Founder visa policy has emphasised innovation as a key element. On the surface, this may appear to be an appropriate shift in the interest of attracting high-quality businesses and entrepreneurs to the UK. However, a closer examination reveals certain flaws.  What is the innovation requirement under the Innovator Founder visa? Per the Innovator Founder visa policy, innovation is a key benchmark for applicant assessment and determining their suitability.  Each applicant’s business (idea) must satisfy the following three criteria: The wording of the Home Office defines innovation as the following: “The applicant must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage” This wording is referencing the Home Office’s policy guidance for its staff, dated 7th December 2023.  Innovation: a sound requirement in theory  Now, it is important to note that the innovation requirement is not theoretically incorrect or inappropriate.  It is my view that any nation should be able to determine its rules for immigration pathways.  Furthermore, the innovation requirement ensures the quality of applicants and their ventures under the Innovator Founder visa.  Therefore, I believe that the requirement in itself may be valuable in principle. However, similar to many other policies, there is a distinction between “theoretically valuable” and “practical”. Innovation: problem in practice? Now that we have established that the innovation factor is logical on a theoretical basis, let’s look at it in practice.  The innovation’s foundation is, theoretically, based on the following: Interpretation of innovation  The first issue with the innovation requirement is the Home Office’s wording in its definition of it.  By the usage of “new” or “existing” (with emphasis on “or”), it is feasible to argue that innovation can apply to businesses that target an existing market, hence the emphasis on the creation of competitive advantage.  However, this raises a further issue. What is interpreted as “competitive advantage” in the case of an “existing” market? The issue with this policy is a generalistic use of the term “competitive advantage” without outlining what it entails in detail.  And the world of entrepreneurship is full of important details.  Ultimately, we notice that this is interpreted by each endorsing body through its assessment protocols.  For instance, I have come to notice that one of these endorsing bodies referred to intellectual property (IP) protection as a determining factor (names not disclosed for anonymity) However, again, this means that there is a lack of consensus, thorough definition and clear measurement metrics as to how “competitive advantage” over an “existing” market vs. a “new market” is defined. The importance of policy wording You may assume that I am reading too far into these terms. However, any legitimate policymaker must understand the considerable implications of how policies are worded. In the case of the Innovator Founder visa, we are talking about 1000s of applicants.  I am not a policymaker nor a legal professional, despite holding a master’s degree in international law. In case you are interested, you may see my resume for more information.  However, allow me to tell you this based on my law postgraduate thesis that the wording of international legislation such as the United Nations Security Council, and specifically Article 51 of the UN Charter, governs how international warfares are determined as legal or in violation of international law. The mere usage of the conjunction of “or” in this article has been crucial in the assessment of several international and domestic conflicts. Thus, with the above as an example, a sound policy evaluation must outline the potential practical flaws of policies, as is the aim of this article.  The first issue is the Home Office’s lack of clarity in its definition of innovation, especially concerning new versus existing markets which are inherently different from each other. Many ideas face current market players The nature of business in our modern world reflects growing technological advancements. The Internet alone, and the online nature of commerce, have radically shifted the nature of enterprise solutions.  With the aforementioned, there is the consequence of increased competition in virtually any field.  The latter alone also reflects the lesser barriers to entry to the market, for instance, due to the Internet. This is also reflected in the case of businesses that apply for the Innovator Founder visa. It is a reality that most ideas will have to fall under the “existing market” definition.  Innovation = IP? The preceding points raise the question of whether intellectual property protection is the ultimate defining factor.  And as a business professional, I am bound to agree that this would be the most reasonable view. At least that is my interpretation of it. Additionally, an Innovator Founder visa endorsing body has made particular reference to intellectual property protection. Therefore,  we may reasonably assume the priority importance of this factor. This again, reflects the lack of any clarity from the Home Office on interpreting competitive advantage. Nevertheless, we will adopt the view that IP protection would be a key factor in assessing innovation.  And by IP protection, we are mainly referring to patents, as many can simply file for a trade mark.  However, patents can take years to be granted, especially if there is a dispute. In this case, we are assuming that the applicant does have sufficient personal network and resources to embark on such a life. By this, we can see that such immigration restrictions deter and discourage high-net-worth individuals who are facing major challenges with their ventures. They would certainly not want to…

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