Jim Burden, Managing Director, AHEAD, speaks with Alan Gilbert, Vice President of Engineering at Boundless Immigration, regarding how he got his start in engineering product development, making medical devices at IBM and DUPONT. In 1996, he shifted to a small, scrappy medical device startup in Cleveland [Ohio], making film for radiology imaging. They competed against the likes of behemoths like Kodak, Konica, and Fuji. That's how he got excited about the concept of a company trying to punch above its weight, and find a disruptive new way of doing less with 1/10th of the resources.
In 2012, he moved to CoverMyMeds in Columbus, another small company that was ready to scale into a larger organization, which was very successful. Another company he worked at involved info kiosks that feature ads. The move to Boundless was pre-Covid, when he met a person that he thought he'd like to work with someday, and the opportunity followed.
Boundless Immigration was started by three co-founders, an immigrant from Turkey, an immigration attorney in the Obama administration, and a son of Chinese immigrants who saw how painful it was for his parents to go through the emigration process -- the complexity, language barriers, the anguish, the uncertainty, and the expense, which he estimated was about 5 months salary, just for the immigration attorney. They are trying to create a category with the term, Immigration Tech. The company acquired RapidVisa, and obtained a series B round of funding. They bring families together who want to ultimately become U.S. citizens. Much like Turbo Tax, Boundless Immigration uses technology to help make a complex, archane, confusing process easier. Gilbert notes that personally having experienced pain is a great motivator for wanting to fix a problem, and seems to be the recipe for success for a startup.
Knowing what he knows today, if he could give his 25-year-old self advice, he would say that the way you see the world, and what you see as truth is actually just your lens, based on your experience. He would say to take a step back when you think you know what's going on, and understand your own biases. Incorporate other people's views and biases, and get to know their view to make wiser, more long-lasting, good decisions. Truth is always subjective.