Max Echeverria is a serial entrepreneur from Chile. His most recent venture is using technology to make it easier for fieldworkers to collect data regardless of internet service quality. Max recently received the exciting news that his O-1 visa was approved. We took the chance to chat with him about his career and what he's hoping to accomplish in the coming year, now that he has greater access to U.S. markets.
Becoming a Respected Serial Entrepreneur
We asked Max whether his current company, Eskuad, has been the most successful company he has founded. His response? "Not yet, but it depends on how we measure success."
Before founding Eskuad, Max founded two companies that exited and one that was sold. One of his previous companies did well financially but ultimately was not exciting enough for Max, and proved too difficult to scale.
Another one of Max’s companies—an accelerator program that eventually sold to a Chilean university—was not necessarily a financial success. However, Max is proud of the number of companies it launched.
"We trained thousands of students, we trained dozens of companies, and some of them are super successful now," Max told us. "It gave me a name among the innovation ecosystem, not only in Chile, but also in other Latin American countries."
"Eskuad could be considered the most successful based on how it's growing now, but it's still too early to know how big it's going to be," Max explained.
Concepción, Chile: A Place of Inspiration
Max has spent most of his life in Concepción, Chile - a port city known as the birthplace of many of Chile's most successful rock bands. It is home to numerous universities and feels like a youthful, bustling college town, even with a population of over 950,000.
With forestry making up most of the gross domestic product in the areas surrounding his hometown, Max routinely spoke to people in the forestry industry and began understanding their unique challenges.
One particular encounter with a classmate at Universidad de Concepción inspired Max to explore a technological solution. "A classmate had the problem of managing field workers in the Southern South of Chile," Max explained during our chat, "they operate in the middle of the mountains without internet service. Management didn't know what was happening in the field on any given day."
A single company may have hundreds, if not thousands, of employees working in areas without a solid internet connection. Some level of reporting and data collection is required for all employees, yet, before Eskuad, these companies relied on outdated methods.
From Fancy Forms to Innovative Solutions
Eskuad's platform started small, with the simple goal of creating a reporting and data collection form for forestry field workers in areas without internet access.
From there, Max and his Co-Founders, Donald Inostroza and David Osorio, expanded the original solution into the current comprehensive Eskuad platform.
Eskuad's platform is available in Spanish and English and is now used across various industries that rely on workers in areas without reliable internet. Think soil samplers, forestry companies, wineries, and port management operators, to name a few.
Eskuad is a win-win for both the fieldworker (the user) and the company (the customer).
Drawing on his own experience working in remote areas in both the mining and tourism industries, Max shared how Eskuad benefits fieldworkers. "We offer them a better user experience when collecting data in the middle of nowhere. We save them a lot of time and headaches."
Max also reported how Eskuad helps the companies they work with: "We allow them to receive good quality data on time. That helps them comply with safety as well as environmental compliance certifications. Also, we help them improve productivity because their field workers focus more on their processes instead of collecting data and then building reports, which is automated with Eskuad."
Eskuad has gained traction in Chile, recently winning the Most Innovative Solution Award by Startup Chile. Now, Max has his eye on markets in the U.S.
The O-1A Visa: A Path to U.S. Markets for Eskuad
Like many international founders, Max is eager to tap into U.S. markets. In 2021, Max and his team went through Techstars in the U.S. and began to meet with U.S. investors who urged him to get a U.S. work visa.
"We serve legacy industries, and traditional marketing doesn't work well with them," Max shared, "so with that being a key aspect of the product and the company development, investors wanted me to be able to participate in person and not rely only on a salesperson [in the U.S.]."
Thus, Max's U.S. work visa journey began. Earlier in 2022, Legalpad was able to help Max get his O-1 visa approved. This was not only a big moment for Max as an individual but also for the company.
"Part of [Eskuad's] funding was unlocked because I received the visa," says Max.
The only challenge that Max faced when preparing his O-1 petition was the fact that he owned the majority of the shares in his company. To establish an employer-employee relationship in a work visa application, a founder must either have less than 50% of the shares in a U.S. company, or establish a board with the power to oversee their work.
Instead of seeing this as a setback, Max saw it as an opportunity. "We landed two awesome mentors to be board members of the company to supervise my work... and then we got a lot of value because of them,"
Max's Advice for International Founders
When we asked Max what advice he wanted to share with other international founders who wish to bring their work to the U.S., Max emphasized the importance of exploring all the potential visa paths to find the right fit.
"It's similar to applying for an MBA or another Master's Program. They are not going to accept you if you don't fit the criteria. The best you can do as a founder is to look for the right visa for you."
We agree with Max, and that is why we work with founders worldwide to help them figure out their best possible immigration path. Like Max, many founders are eager to tap into U.S. markets but may not know precisely how to make it happen from a U.S. immigration perspective. If that sounds like you, we're here to help! Check out our resources or set up a time to meet with one of our immigration experts.