Xiao Wang is an immigrant success story.
He came to the U.S. from Nanjing at three and went on to earn advanced degrees from Stanford and Harvard Business School before jumping into leadership roles in tech. For the past three years, he’s been a senior product manager on Amazon Go, the Seattle retailer’s ambitious new convenience store operation.
Now Wang is working to ensure immigrants, like himself, have access to the same opportunities.
This month, Wang left his role at Amazon to co-found and run Boundless, a spinout of Seattle-based startup studio Pioneer Square Labs. The startup is in stealth mode and Wang and Pioneer Square Labs aren’t saying much, but its website pledges to “provide the tools, community, and personalized support applicants need to take charge of their immigration journey.”
In today’s charged political climate where President Donald Trump has sparked fears with his immigration policy, Boundless sees an opening to create a successful business.
The startup will initially focus on bringing dispersed immigrant families together in the U.S., according to a Facebook post by Pioneer Square Labs co-founder Ben Gilbert.
It aims to be a resource for immigrants trying to navigate America’s tumultuous political climate and those facing financial barriers to obtaining a visa or green card. The process can be laborious and families often have to shell out thousands of dollars for immigration attorneys.
“We believe there is a better way,” writes Wang in an essay on Boundless’s website. “Technology can process and synthesize the vast amount of information better than the best human expert, faster, clearer, and at a much lower cost. With these tools, we can empower every current or future immigrant with the information, guidance, and support they need to confidently take control of their journey.”
Pioneer Square Labs has a unique model for quickly testing and validating new startup ideas before bringing in an executive team to spin them out. The studio, co-founded by Greg Gottesman, Geoff Entress, Mike Galgon, and Gilbert, recently moved to a new building adjacent to the Impact HUB downtown.
Before Boundless, PSL spun out sales tax reporting startup LumaTax, an advertisement monitoring company called Ad Lightning, and JetClosing, which digitally streamlines the real estate purchasing process. Boundless is the startup studio’s fourth spinout and the timing is no accident.
The startup’s website addresses President Trump’s executive orders and his administration’s attitude toward immigration head on:
Most executive orders are not self-executing. It is possible for a President to order some changes that take effect immediately, as we have seen. Most elements of an executive order, however, direct a federal agency to undertake new and time-consuming efforts — issuing a new regulation, for example, or forming a commission to make new policy recommendations. Such actions typically take years to play out … No President has the last word on immigration. Although our laws tend to give the executive branch wide discretion in carrying out immigration policy, Congress has the power to rewrite these laws. Judges will block or overturn those actions deemed outside the bounds of Congressional intent or the Constitution. State and local governments will make decisions about how they want to treat immigrant issues within their own borders.
Boundless’s website includes resources, including information about President Trump’s executive order on immigration, which is currently stalled by federal court rulings. On Thursday, Trump announced he will not further appeal the executive order. Instead, he plans to issue a revised version next week.
The uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policy is sending shockwaves of anxiety through the tech community, which relies on a diverse talent pool for a number of reasons.
“This is a big and complex challenge, and we are excited to take it on,” Wang writes on Boundless’s website. “Twenty-eight years ago, my parents gave up everything so that I can have the opportunities I have today. And now, we have the privilege and obligation to help as many others as possible achieve their own dreams.”