Romil Verma talks about his work in the web3 and crypto spaces, and about how getting an O-1 visa has helped him build his recently funded startup, Outdefine.
Beginnings: India > Canada > United States
Throughout childhood, Romil lived in nine cities in various parts of India and Canada. He now lives in San Francisco but still considers New Delhi his home.
From a young age, he imagined his future as a technologist and entrepreneur. "I realized that there was a lot of impact that I could make through technology," Romil shared. He viewed entrepreneurship as a natural extension of a career in technology.
He ended up at Purdue University on a full-ride scholarship, graduating a year early with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. Romil went on to Stanford University, where he researched blockchain and security for his Master's degree.
"This was around 2015 or 2016 when everyone was into artificial intelligence and machine learning. Meanwhile, I was spending all my time trying to understand blockchain and crypto," Romil says about his time at Stanford.
Working at Google while Googling Visa Options
After graduating with his Master's, Romil joined Google as a Software Engineer on an H-1B visa. Throughout his time at Google, Romil kept his sights set on founding his own company. He researched founder visa options diligently to be ready when the time came to launch his first startup.
"I think I realized early on that O-1 was the right visa for me," Romil said. "I found that being on H-1B was quite difficult and detrimental for me as a founder to do what I do best. And the H-1B is even harder for an early-stage founder or CEO because there are so many rules and regulations."
Romil spent several years developing his O-1 profile during his employment at Google. By the time he applied for his O-1, he met all eight extraordinary ability criteria - a pretty incredible achievement.
Founding Two Venture-Backed Startups
So far, Romil has founded two venture-backed startups. The first was Equi, an alternative investing platform. "We took [Equi] to a very meaningful stage with over $100M in assets under management in 1 year, but my passion always was in building something in the web3 and crypto space."
Following this passion, Romil started Outdefine in 2021. His co-founder was none other than his father, Sanjay Verma. "We both had probably a longstanding dream of being entrepreneurial, and it was a complimentary fit for the two of us to work together," Romil explained. "I brought expertise in crypto and technology, and he brought expertise in the human and organizational side of things," said Romil.
Romil describes Outdefine as a decentralized talent network. Outdefine is on Solana and is backed by some of the top web3 venture capital funds, including TCG Crypto and Jump Crypto. Romil started Outdefine in response to the foundational shifts he saw occurring in the software engineering recruiting and hiring pathways within the past few years.
Shifts towards remote work have made it easier to find roles that are not restricted to a specific location. At the same time, these shifts towards remote work presented new hiring challenges. The three challenges that Romil is solving with Outdefine are:
- Streamlining employer access to quality talent.
- Improving candidate access to opportunities in the web3 and crypto space.
- Solving challenges related to misaligned pay incentives.
Romil sees Outdefine's decentralized talent network as a way to build an equitable future for remote workers with these solutions, regardless of where they are in the world. At the same time, the platform also makes it easier for companies to hire quality talent quickly.
What's next for Outdefine? Romil told us that their plan for the rest of the year is to "double down on the effort towards delivering on a solid product experience in the company." In other words, they'll be focused on building.
Getting his O-1 visa has been a critical step in his journey. Romil told us that getting his O-1 visa has freed up a lot of mental space. "I can now focus more on just building versus dealing with all of the challenges that come with being on some of the other employment-based visas," Romil shared with us.
Romil's Advice To International Founders
We asked Romil what advice he would give international founders looking to come to the U.S. He recommends: "educating yourself on work visas, what they do, and how they can help achieve personal and professional goals." He also urges international founders to gain a deep understanding of the criteria for the visa they're hoping to apply for, especially if it is an O-1 visa. From there, he advises them to "articulate a clear plan on how to support the evidence for it to get the visa."
"I'm always happy to help support anyone who is looking to get more insights through the immigration process. It is important to focus on helping each other out however we can," Romil shared.
Legalpad is thrilled to have played a small role in Romil's journey. He did the hard work qualifying as “extraordinary”, we just handled the paperwork (all 500 pages of it!) Having worked with hundreds of other international founders like Romil, we understand that immigration can be a pain point. We're here to help when you're ready to explore your visa or green card options.