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Billion-dollar companies founded by former international students

interstride logo by Interstride
October 26, 2023

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.

CompanyCompany ValueFounder/Co-FounderUniversity
Alzheon$1.31BMartin TolarUniversity of Cincinnati/University of Michigan
Calendly$3.0BTope AwotonaUniversity of Georgia
Cameo$1.0BMartin BlencoweUniversity of Southern California
Grammarly$15BMax LytvynVanderbilt University$1.7BSri Satish AmbatiUniversity of Memphis
Indigo Ag$3.5BNoubar AfeyanMIT
Jokr$1.2BGerman PeraltaCornell University
News Break$1.0BJeff ZhengUniversity of Buffalo
Noom$3.7BArtem PetakovPrinceton University
OpenAI$2.92BWojciech ZarembaNew York University
OpenAI$2.92BElon MuskUniversity of Pennsylvania
Orca Bio$1.0BJeroen BekaertStanford University
Ramp Financial$3.9BKarim AtiyehHarvard University
Rec Room$3.5BBilal OrhanUniversity of Central Florida
SoundHound$1.0BKeyvan MohajerStanford University
SpaceX$100.3BElon MuskUniversity of Pennsylvania
Spring Health$2.0BAdam ChekroudYale University
Starry$1.29BChaitanya KanojiaNortheastern University
Stripe$95BJohn CollisonHarvard University
Stripe$95BPatrick CollisonMIT
Tango$1.1BEric SettonStanford University
Weee!$2.8BLarry LiuUC Davis
WHOOP$3.6BAurelian NicolaeHarvard University
Zenoti$1.5BSudheer KoneruUT 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 nameNumber of H-1B applicationsAverage salary for H-1B employees
Indigo Ag10$169,833
News Break9$173,500
Ramp Financial10$177,500
Rec Room3$120,000
Spring Health6$177,975


*2022 data not available; 2021 data used.

Final thoughts

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.