O'Leary Ventures

April 18, 2012 16:46 ET

Kevin O'Leary and Jason Kenney Announce Startup Visa for Entrepreneurs

O'Leary Ventures, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Team Up to Mark Launch of Consultation Process

Program Will Enable Canadian Venture Investors to Recruit Global Talent

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 18, 2012) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

Kevin O'Leary joined Canada's immigration minister, Jason Kenney, today to make a big announcement for the country's startup and venture investing community. Canada's startup visa, if implemented, will create highly skilled jobs and bring much-needed capital into Canada's startup sector.

A Global Pool of Talent

As envisioned, Canada's startup visa would enable Canadian investors like O'Leary to recruit highly skilled startup entrepreneurs from around the world to build fast growing, successful startup companies in Canada.

"Building fast-growing, globally competitive companies is tough," said O'Leary. "You really do need every advantage you can get. The startup visa will give entrepreneurs and venture investors like me access to a global pool of talent."

Consulting Key Stakeholders

Today's announcement kicks off a consultation process: over the next few months, the Canadian government's citizenship and immigration ministry (CIC) will get input and feedback from angel and venture investors, startup CEOs, and the heads of startup "incubators".

"Canada cannot afford to lose out in the competition for foreign entrepreneurs among immigrant-receiving countries, said Minister Kenney. "We need to proactively target a new type of immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale."

Supporting New Ventures, but Focusing On Value and Yield

O'Leary's background as a repeat entrepreneur and venture backer fed his interest in establishing a startup visa.

Widely known as a low-risk, value yield investor, O'Leary keeps a strict limit on his own financial exposure to what he sees as riskier bets. His biggest company, O'Leary Funds, stays away from risky startups and instead tends to focus on value, yield and capital preservation. Still, he maintains an active presence in the entrepreneurial world as the chairman of O'Leary Ventures, his own privately owned venture company.

"We do deals on both sides of the border," explained Alex Kenjeev, president of O'Leary Ventures. "It doesn't take long before you see how the wrong immigration policy can prevent these highly skilled, entrepreneurial job creators from fueling our innovation economy."

Global movement

Canada is not the only country looking at a startup visa. In the United States, startup visa legislation has been floated twice in the last two years - but has not yet become law.

"We'd like to see startup visas available on both sides of the border," said Kenjeev, "but whichever country moves first will send a strong signal, and gain an advantage as destination for capital. As an investor, you want this idea to be a global movement."

The United Kingdom introduced a startup visa program a year ago. Chile has gone even further, granting government cash to help fund those entrepreneurs who qualify for their country's startup visa program.

About Kevin O'Leary

Kevin O'Leary is an entrepreneur and investor. O'Leary is the bestselling author of Cold Hard Truth, as well as a star on Dragons' Den, Shark Tank, Redemption Inc. and The Lang & O'Leary Exchange. He is chairman of O'Leary Funds, a billion-dollar investment fund company. He is also the chairman of O'Leary Ventures, a private venture company. Previously, O'Leary founded and was president of SoftKey (later called The Learning Company), a global educational software company that was acquired for $4.2 billion. For more information, please visit www.kevin-oleary.com and follow @kevinolearytv.

About Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney is Canada's Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, a post he has held since 2008. The Ministry is responsible for all matters pertaining to selecting, encouraging and supporting newcomers to Canada. Minister Kenney is also the Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Operations. Prior to being elected to government 1997, he was the president and CEO of the Canadian taxpayer's federation. For more information, please visit www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/minister and follow @kenneyjason.

About O'Leary Ventures

O'Leary Ventures is a private early-stage investment company owned and chaired by Kevin O'Leary. It invests in and partners with early-stage, high growth potential companies in all industries. It also looks for ways to bring new and innovative products to market that build upon Kevin O'Leary's core values of honesty, value, and wealth creation. It is run by Alex Kenjeev, a repeat entrepreneur who previously co-founded Dayforce, a global, Canadian-headquartered software company that was acquired in a nine-figure transaction. For more information, please visit www.olearyventures.com, email info@olearyventures.com and follow @olearyventures and @akenjeev.

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