Instacart Immigrant Founder Helps Americans During Pandemic

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During the time when many American companies froze hiring or cut jobs, Instacart, founded by immigrants, has grown. Instacart, which provides grocery services, has also become a lifeline for many American consumers during the Covid-19 crisis.

On March 23, 2020, the founder and CEO of Instacart, Apoorva Mehta announcement, “Today, we have more buyers than ever on the Instacart platform. Given the continued customer demand that we expect over the next few months, we will attract an additional 300,000 full-service buyers to support cities across the country.

A month later, Instacart noted it would hire another 250,000 workers: “As more and more people seek immediate and flexible income opportunities during this period, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn money. while being at the service of the communities in which they live. ” (See here for more on the contributions of immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic.)

Apoorva Mehta was born in India and moved with his family to Libya for a time before settling in Canada. Mehta graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering. In the United States, he worked at Blackberry and Qualcomm as a design engineer, then gained valuable experience at Amazon as a supply chain manager.

There is no green card (permanent residence) for foreign nationals who start a successful business, nor a temporary visa for startups in the US immigration system. This means that foreign-born entrepreneurs such as Mehta must obtain legal permanent residence through another route, for example by being admitted as a refugee, or as a family or professional immigrant. This limits the number of foreign nationals with talent and good ideas who can start a business in the United States. Mehta is a lawful permanent resident, according to Instacart.

A recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy found that while there is no startup visa in the US, the federal startup program in Canada works well, as does a program run by the province of Quebec. The UK has revamped its program in hopes it can compete with Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs, while Australia and New Zealand both have startup categories that government officials plan to improve.

After leaving Amazon, during the summer of 2012, Mehta spent time at Y Combinator. It was at this time that he founded Instacart, which is valued today at nearly $ 14 billion. “Immigrants have created more than half (50 of 91, or 55%) of American startups valued at $ 1 billion or more and are key members of management or product development teams in more than 80% of those. companies ”, according to an NFAP to study.

Mehta had several ideas for businesses, but her first inspiration didn’t go anywhere. According to Mehta, the following 19 ideas he came up with for startups also didn’t work. “I didn’t know anything about these topics, but I liked to put myself in a position where I had to learn more about an industry and try to solve problems that they might or might not have,” he said in a statement. interview with the Los Angeles Times.

The idea for Instacart came from what he learned after experiencing failure in his previous attempts to start. “It was 2012, people would order everything online, meet people online, watch movies online, but the one thing everyone has to do every week – do the grocery shopping – we still do it in a way. archaic “, according to Mehta. “In less than a month, he himself had coded a raw version of an app that could be used by people who needed to shop, and a version for those who shopped in-store for customers. . On his first try, because Mehta hadn’t hired any customers yet, he ordered through the app, went to the store and did the shopping on his own ”, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We’ve gone from zero part-time employees to thousands of individual stores,” Mehta noted. “We had to determine the times and types of training to provide. We had to understand a lot of things. In 2020, the company responded to concerns about the health of its buyers by issuing new hygiene and safety instructions, obtaining additional protective equipment and expanding access to sickness benefits.

Apoorva Mehta and her company have provided shopping services to many Americans, including those who were unable to buy themselves during the Covid-19 crisis. Starting a new business and being successful takes skill and persistence. Apoorva Mehta succeeded and the Americans took advantage of it.


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