In the US today, there are nearly 180 billion-dollar US companies that were founded or co-founded by a former international student. Former international students make up nearly 25% of billion-dollar startup companies in the US, creating on average, 800 jobs per startup.
The potential that international students possess as future entrepreneurs is limitless. Not only do international students bring new ideas and worldly insights to American culture, but the impact of those insights and ideas can be seen throughout the US economy.
According to the National Association of International Educators, during the 2021-2022 academic year, international students studying at US colleges and universities contributed nearly $34 billion to the US economy and supported over 300,000 US jobs. International students are catalysts for the establishment of high-value companies and the creation of jobs in the US workforce.
Which billion-dollar companies were founded or co-founded by international students?
The chart below illustrates a selection of billion-dollar companies founded or co-founded by international students. To see the full list of 200+ companies, as of 2022, see the National Foundation for American Policy Brief.
|Alzheon||$1.31B||Martin Tolar||University of Cincinnati/University of Michigan|
|Calendly||$3.0B||Tope Awotona||University of Georgia|
|Cameo||$1.0B||Martin Blencowe||University of Southern California|
|Grammarly||$15B||Max Lytvyn||Vanderbilt University|
|H2O.ai||$1.7B||Sri Satish Ambati||University of Memphis|
|Indigo Ag||$3.5B||Noubar Afeyan||MIT|
|Jokr||$1.2B||German Peralta||Cornell University|
|News Break||$1.0B||Jeff Zheng||University of Buffalo|
|Noom||$3.7B||Artem Petakov||Princeton University|
|OpenAI||$2.92B||Wojciech Zaremba||New York University|
|OpenAI||$2.92B||Elon Musk||University of Pennsylvania|
|Orca Bio||$1.0B||Jeroen Bekaert||Stanford University|
|Ramp Financial||$3.9B||Karim Atiyeh||Harvard University|
|Rec Room||$3.5B||Bilal Orhan||University of Central Florida|
|SoundHound||$1.0B||Keyvan Mohajer||Stanford University|
|SpaceX||$100.3B||Elon Musk||University of Pennsylvania|
|Spring Health||$2.0B||Adam Chekroud||Yale University|
|Starry||$1.29B||Chaitanya Kanojia||Northeastern University|
|Stripe||$95B||John Collison||Harvard University|
|Tango||$1.1B||Eric Setton||Stanford University|
|Weee!||$2.8B||Larry Liu||UC Davis|
|WHOOP||$3.6B||Aurelian Nicolae||Harvard University|
|Zenoti||$1.5B||Sudheer Koneru||UT Austin|
H-1B sponsorship history
Of the 22 companies featured above, 91% have sponsored employees for H-1B visas in the past. H-1B visas are the most common and preferred work visas for many international students after their student visa expires. Companies that have sponsored international talent before may be more open to hiring international students and sponsoring them because they are already familiar with the process. To learn more about companies that currently offer H-1B sponsorship, explore the US Visa Insights on Interstride’s career portal.
|Company name||Number of H-1B applications||Average salary for H-1B employees|
*2022 data not available; 2021 data used.
International students have the ability to make an incredible impact not just at the school or university they attend in the US, but on the economy, culture, and values of the US as a whole. As an international student, you too have the potential to make waves during and after your higher education studies in the US. Whether you are an entrepreneur yourself or are interested in working for a company founded by a former international student, you can find professional success in the US.