What have been the biggest surprises?

How much bureaucracy exists here. I thought that was an Austrian phenomenon.

Would you tell someone from your home country to start a business here or there?

That’s tough. If a reported 90 percent of U.S. tech startups fail, imagine how much harder it is for a foreigner to come here, with no support network or business connections and maybe very limited funds. To stand a chance you have to be well funded, lightning fast at learning how things work in a new environment, quite risk tolerant and somewhat crazy.

What advice would you give someone from your home country about starting a business here?

Do it! Nothing is worse than not following your dreams. Make sure you are well funded though: This place is not cheap. Take your total budget and add another 50 percent for delays and unforeseen expenses.

Do you go back often?

Not often enough. We try to go back twice a year but startups tend to not respect holidays. So my beautiful wife, Dalara, has to go back way too often without me.

What did you know about the United States before coming here?

Before I ever came to the U.S., I dated a girl from L.A. in my hometown of Graz when I was 18 years old. So I guess I was more exposed than others to the American way of life early on.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you as a foreign-born entrepreneur?

How many times my name has been misspelled or simply changed. I always thought Josef Holm was fairly simple but I’ve been called everything from “José F” to “Mr. Holmes” to “Jeff.”

– Sandro Monetti


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