Alexander Torrenegra

Founder and CEO of Bunny Inc. and Torrenegra Labs.

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Startup Visa: American by Choice, Bootstrapper by Passion

5th April 2012

This article was original published by Wired.

My first real “angel” investor was Tania. She didn’t invest money, though. She invested something far more valuable: She married me so that I could stay in the United States and continue growing my startup. Fast forward to the present, and my company now has over 50 team members, about half of whom are based in the U.S.

I’m Colombian by birth. I’m American by choice. Most nations are defined by race, language, or religion, but the United States is different. What sets the American nation apart is that it’s defined by the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Learning from a failed Endeavor

15th May 2012

If you follow my tweets, you may know that I was applying to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Endeavor Global is an organization that helps entrepreneurs unleash their potential by providing a network of seasoned business leaders. Endeavor Entrepreneurs get mentoring from members of the world’s top companies, educational and networking opportunities, and hands-on assistance with the most difficult challenges for startups.

We were invited to apply last year. The application process took hundreds of hours of paperwork, interviews, mentorships, and judging panels. Last week we flew to Cartagena, Colombia, for the Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP). Finally, the last step of the process. We felt prepared and excited as tons of support and encouragement poured in, cheering us on. Sixteen companies were judged by an independent panel and after hours of deliberation, seven were rejected, including us. Honestly, it was heartbreaking. I failed at pitching my business properly. I let my team down, as well as the members of the Endeavor team that invested innumerable hours helping us. I’ve never dissapointed so many great people at once.

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Why I turned down investor money for Bunny Inc.

24th April 2013

This article was originally published on Pando Daily.

“Who are your investors?” “How much have you raised?” I’m asked these questions constantly about my businesses, Bunny Inc., from other entrepreneurs, media, and most tech people I’ve met. The answers are: no one and $0. Eyebrows, and perhaps red flags, rise. I have actually pitched to VCs and had a few offers. But for now, we’ve decided not to raise capital. Yes, there is a sense of pride that comes with being an immigrant entrepreneur and being able to say I’ve come this far on my own (with the support of an amazing team, of course), but it’s not just pride or the mythical “American Dream” that keeps me bootstrapping. I’ve got five solid reasons why bootstrapping is not only possible, but is a logical decision.

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No Reform, No Visas, No Business

22nd May 2013

This article originally appeared on Mashable.

I first came to the U.S. with my family in 1998 to avoid the violence in my home country, Colombia. But without any way to get visas, much of my family had to return. Fortunately, I was able to stay in America and moved to Miami, where I met many successful Hispanics who demonstrated the great opportunities for entrepreneurs in the U.S.

However, since there isn’t a way for people like me to obtain visas that let us come to this country and start businesses, I struggled with how to legally remain here. My short-term solution was college — I enrolled at Miami Dade College and then at Florida International University.

I knew this was not a long-term solution. In 2000, I founded my first U.S. startup with a Cuban-American citizen I met at school. Within a year, we were successful and employed six other people, but the company was still too small to act as my visa sponsor.

I was stuck and losing hope. Here I was, the co-founder of a successful business and a student at an American university, and I was being told to leave.

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