Turning barriers into innovation
"Whatever happens, it’s gonna be a great ride—highs will be higher and lows will be lower than the other options that you could’ve taken."
While visa restrictions and hiring talent can be the two biggest obstacles for foreign founders in the United States, Tasha Choi turned these problems into innovative solutions.
Born and raised in South Korea and university educated in Toronto, Tasha knew she wanted to start her own business, but hadn’t the faintest idea where to begin.
Out of university, she landed a job in the automotive industry in California. Working with mobile technology opened her eyes to the lightning-fast field of innovation.
The great founder story
With one foot in the door of the industry, Tasha wanted to be involved with the startup scene in the Bay area. After interviewing with several companies, she was inspired by the passion of the entrepreneurs she met.
“It was something that I have never seen before. Talking to teams of young and passionate people really opened my eyes. I had a vague idea about ‘someday’ I wanna do my own business, but I had very little idea about where and how to start”.
Tasha wanted to started consulting for the tech companies she met in San Francisco, but without a business visa, she would have to work from her home in South Korea.
To manage her client portfolio, she needed junior talent to support the work load. Sifting through a pool of university talent was an overwhelming challenge. Little did she know, her one-woman consulting service in South Korea would lead her to the next big innovation in recruitment in the United States.
“When I asked around, it seemed like a lot of small teams also had a hard time hiring the right junior talent, so I decided to work on solving the problem. That was how the idea for Tackl was born”.
Crossing borders and unleashing talent
Tasha spent considerable time figuring out how to follow the immigration laws in the US to make sure this could all come together. It required a fair amount of research and creativity to overcome the “chicken and egg” problem of needing a visa to run a business, but making sure your business has met certain requirements first.
Tasha worked around the clock to build a foundation for success. She started by focusing on the product, getting schools on board and recruiting her own team. Along the way she was also accepted to join the famous 500 Startups, a leading global startup accelerator and VC fund.
Tackl is now at the level where it meets US Citizenship and Immigration Services requirements and Tasha is excited to move to San Francisco.
Respect for the ‘real deal’
Tasha says she is often met with phrases like, “Oh, I didn’t know you were the founder, you don’t look like the type”. But over time, she has learned that ‘the real deals’ in the industry respect and appreciate founders, whether they are women or men, because they understand what it means and how much it takes.
“There are great people who like to help and support just because they have gone through the same the hard way and want to share their advice and experience.”
Today, Tasha is focusing her energy on a stronger match algorithm for Tackl and getting more schools on board. Her long term goal is to get cross-border matches for talent and opportunities.
“I really want Tackl to become the central place for university recruiting in the U.S.,” she says, while adding how thrilled she is about the journey ahead.
“I still have a long way to go. So let’s enjoy the ride!”