Cheryl Yeoh, ReClip.IT
Starting her first business at eight years-old, Cheryl Yeoh’s unmistaken entrepreneurial drive and success in the U.S. serves as a testament to the lasting effect immigrant entrepreneurs have on our country and on our economy.
Born in Malaysia, Cheryl immigrated to the U.S. for her undergraduate studies in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at Cornell University, on a full scholarship.
“I came to the U.S. to study engineering since some of the best technical colleges are here,” Cheryl said. “I also loved that the U.S. provided an opportunity for any person of any gender or ethnicity to excel themselves and succeed, given their hard work and perseverance.”
Subsequently, she received another full scholarship to finish her Master’s in Engineering Management a few years later allowing her to remain in the U.S.
“I’d encourage immigrants to pursue a higher degree because it’s easier to get a company to sponsor an H1-B visa with it. My Master’s was only a one-year program, so it didn’t have to take a lot of time, plus it was fully paid for,” she added. “I guess I consider myself incredibly lucky to have worked very hard and received two full scholarships.”
After receiving her Master’s, Cheryl worked for three years at an American corporation before receiving her green card.
“Obviously, getting through the visa issue was a hurdle, and I couldn’t really pursue what I wanted off the bat (start a company) until I received my green card. Some companies are better at sponsoring visas and will pay to expedite your documents, pay for your lawyer fees, etc., but not all,” she said. “It’s definitely important to get referrals for a good and reliable immigration attorney to help you through the process. There’s a ton of paperwork, interviews, biometrics, and patient waiting involved; but it will all pay out when you finally get a green card.”
In April 2010, Cheryl conceived the idea of her venture, CityPockets – a web service and mobile app which brings all of your social shopping deals and group discounts into one place. She worked her full-time corporate job and then would shift to her “passion project” after close of business, often working into the early morning of the next day. It was not until she received her green card that Cheryl felt that the time was right to move on and concentrate fully on CityPockets. One year later, she and her co-founder raised more than $750K through investment from venture capital firms and angel investors.
Under the same company, Cheryl is now working on a new product, Reclip.It, which she created to disrupt and innovate on the outdated coupon space. Reclip.It is a design-driven site that prioritizes the user experience of discovering deals & coupons that are relevant to an individual.
Her company continues to grow with 30% month-over-month in terms of registered users and currently employs four full-time employees.
Cheryl’s journey should be the experience of most immigrant entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, as she points out, due to a very complex, expensive and lengthy immigration process, even the most fortunate immigrant entrepreneurs get lost in the shuffle.
“I knew that this country offered me the kind of diversity in culture and career opportunities that my home country wouldn’t be able to,” said Cheryl. “I hope to see change for smarter immigration laws that can ensure America continues to attract the talent, ideas and energy we need.”