“America was built by immigrants,” A common proverb that we have heard throughout our lives living in this country. However, we should say, “America depends on immigrants.”
We are also told time and time again that America is the land of opportunity, and it’s hard to say that such a statement is wrong. As a country we welcome those willing to bet on themselves, as we should, seeing as immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses in the U.S. than U.S.-born citizens.
That results in millions of jobs being created right here, employing Americans and immigrants alike, pushing our economy forward.
Asian Immigrants are Natural Entrepreneurs
While numerous segments within our country’s immigrant population are inclined towards entrepreneurship—Latino, refugee, etc—one group has used the United States as a vehicle towards business ownership by far: Asian-Americans.
Collectively, Asian immigrants own businesses that employ over 4.1 million people throughout the United States. As such, Chicago is a city with a natural entrepreneurial flair. The Windy City is also a hard working one, therefore it’s only fitting that people from all over the world—not just Asia—flock here and end up launching their own ventures.
Nonetheless, being the welcoming city that it is, Asian entrepreneurs are making moves in the City of Broad Shoulders. Starting companies with the aim of making some elbow room of their own in the city.
Company: Nationwide Movers and Storage
Home Country: Mongolia
Five years ago Chimeddorj came to Chicago after completing his undergraduate studies at the University in Illinois, joining his brother KG who had moved to the area a few years prior.
A life-long entrepreneur, Khan had already run 4 businesses by the time he moved to the U.S. for college at 18 years old. The son of entrepreneurs, he adopted his parents’ mindset of “buy low, sell high.”
Khan started the company after getting exposure to the moving industry during college, spending a summer as a crew leader, handling communication with their customers. Seeing potential improvements that could be made in the customer experience, like avoiding hidden fees and incorrect estimates, he sought to start a moving business that delivered better services to their customers.
Furthermore, Chimeddorj sees Nationwide Movers and Storage as a vehicle for achieving the American Dream not just for himself, but other immigrants as well. Drawing on his own experience of culture shock when he arrived in his new home, he is always quick to offer work on his moving crews for recent immigrants. Giving them an opportunity to earn until they find work in their field, or steady long-term employment.
Overall, his end goal for Nationwide is to separate from the competition. He does this by hiring certified professional movers instead of subcontractors, using technology to give accurate estimates, and eliminating hidden fees—which he found to not be common practice in the industry.
“Statistics show that on average 75% of people that hire moving companies face a common problem,” Chimeddorj says. “Inconsistency between the initial quote estimate given and the final charges. And Nationwide sees that as an opportunity.”
Operating as a full-service moving company, Khan still seeks to innovate, crediting his experience as a teenage entrepreneur in Mongolia. In addition to offering moving services, long-distance and local, Nationwide has added new features to their growing business.
Storage services, payment options for customers moving on a budget, and virtual consultations—a must with the current pandemic—are now offered to their customers.
Home country: China
One of the great things about people from other countries is that they bring a new perspective. Whereas within a country like the United States, many of us have had a way of thinking hardwired into us, and therefore we have a routine way of doing things.
When people come to our country from abroad we see amongst many things the customs, foods, style, and culture. More importantly however they bring that unique perspective along with them.
Such is how Lucas Liu started his company, Infi (which stands for Infinite Functionality and Integration), after managing a restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood while pursuing his PhD in computer engineering. Pulling double duty at the restaurant and studying at Illinois Institute of Technology, Liu used his experience in both worlds to his advantage. Recognizing spaces within the restaurant industry that could best be helped by technology.
“There were a lot of areas I thought technology could help,” Lucas remembers. “So when I was finally able to start Infi, I was able to create the technology that I knew would help any restaurant owner.”
Once finished with school, Lucas started InfiShare, an app that promoted Chinatown restaurants via discounts and special offers. Over a year later as part of the company’s next phase, the company was rebranded as Infi and released their self-ordering kiosk point of sale system, the InfiKIOSK.
Liu and Infi are looking to spread their InfiKIOSK throughout the Quick Serve Restaurant industry in the U.S. Already they have more than a dozen restaurants using their self-ordering kiosks as their preferred order taking system. And this past summer, restaurants in Indianapolis and Boston bought InfiKIOSK’s of their own.
With the growth of their kiosk, Infi has already started developing additional models of their kiosk POS system, designed to serve QSR’s of all types. On top of that, Infi has used their point-of-sale product to facilitate online ordering for restaurants.
“We had this planned even before COVID hit,” says Liu. “However the pandemic has accelerated the need for restaurants to have online or mobile ordering systems in place. Therefore we have been able to help more restaurants when we launched that service this year.”
Entrepreneurs that are Community Focused
Aside from being entrepreneurs, both Chimeddorj and Liu share another common trait: being community oriented. Chimeddorj even said that being more visible in the community is one of Nationwide’s main objectives heading into 2021.
“Nationwide is already getting in contact with organizations around Chicago that will connect us with our local community.” Khan added, “We move people, which is very personal. We want to make sure people know us on a deeper level.
Likewise, community is the passion that has fueled Infi from the start. “Everything we do at Infi is to make things easier for the restaurant community,” Liu says. “From the owners to the waiters, we want to develop products that helps them do their jobs to the best of their ability.”
Starting businesses is just one of many ways Asian immigrants and immigrants in general benefit our communities throughout our country. Creating companies that benefit the people around them and employing others adds a vibrancy that is impossible to replicate without them.
That’s what’s great about America—examples like these. Individuals creating an impact that goes beyond dollars and cents.
What do you think of how immigrants are positively affecting the entrepreneur community? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.