Interview with Empowered Startups’ Paul Girodo and Laura Blumes www.empoweredstartups.com
“EU Golden Visas are dying and EU Start-Up Visas suck. The Portugal Angel Visa is perfect for HNWIs.”
– Paul Girodo, Empowered Startups Co-Founder
“We’ve co-created the Portugal Angel Visa with Portuguese authorities specifically for HNWIs, so that it gives HNWIs freedom, captures sustainable value for Portugal and can scale rapidly. It’s a win for all stakeholders – HNWIs, governments, and the mobility firms putting the deals together.”
– Laura Blumes, Empowered Startups Managing Director – Europe
HNWIs need an alternative to EU Golden Visas. The upcoming European Commission stakeholder consultations on RCBI (see article) is yet another signal to the market that EU Golden Visas are likely to change materially in the next six months. Remarks by Portugal’s Foreign Minister casting doubt on whether Golden Visa holders in that country will be eligible for citizenship (see article) give HNWIs good reason to be concerned and look to other mobility solutions now. By the time the EU Special Commissions recommendations on changes to RCBI programs are published in November 2019 (see article), the shadows cast on these programs will render them unviable.
Agents such as JF Harvey of HLG have the vision to recognize the shift that is underway and are moving away from Golden Visas (see article). The alternative to EU Golden Visas is not EU startup visas, as correctly noted by Stephane Tajick (see article). Rather, Paul’s Girodo’s analysis of industry trends (see article) identified that the future lies with programs like Portugal’s Angel Visa.
IMI: What is the Angel Visa?
Paul Girodo: It’s simple – HNWIs become “business angels” for their own innovative startup, and we look after all the details. No minimum time in the country. No financial risk. No nonsense. Just a clear path to citizenship or PR.
Laura Blumes: The term “Angel Visa” is our informal working title. The program follows a hybrid model – part investment, part leading edge incubation, part entrepreneurial venture. Our incubator espouses state of the art LEAN business model de-risking methodology, which we employ in providing concierge incubation services to an HNWI’s own new company over the course of three years, carrying the HNWI through all the renewals necessary to be eligible to apply for citizenship or PR after five years.
IMI: Who is the Angel Visa for?
Paul: This is for HNWIs who want a mobility solution, but don’t want the risk of being on the losing end of the Golden Visa scheme. This is fast, straightforward, and objective. There’s no guessing game about what’s going to happen when it’s time to apply for PR or citizenship – this is a complete solution.
Laura: The Angel Visa was specifically created for bona fide accomplished professionals looking for a smooth path into the EU. It is intended for reputable business people who can provide strategic direction for an innovative startup, and who need the freedom to travel globally without restriction.
IMI: What is the pricing model for the Angel Visa?
Paul: Very competitive – for HNWIs it works out to 25% of the total cost of a Golden Visa. For mobility professionals, the comp structure is strong. The numbers we’ve put together will get agents’ attention fast.
Laura: The business model is compelling. Our team has been in this industry for nearly 20 years, and experience has informed us in making this program well worthwhile for all parties.
IMI: What are the permit processing timelines?
Paul: Fast. The Portuguese are hungry – they’re ready to put Angel Visa clients through within 60 days.
Laura: Paul’s remarks are correct. The path is smooth and swift in this program, by design.
IMI: How fast can this program scale?
Paul: Again – fast. There are no quotas and we’re capturing and executing rapidly. It’s all there for the taking. For agents who have vision, now is the time to step on the gas and partner with us.
Laura: The political appetite for this program to scale is notable. We have created an organically-expanding network of partners that can be activated and leveraged rapidly. The partnerships we’ve formed are strong and are driven by trust.
IMI: Which mobility agents should offer this program?
Paul: We want agents who are ready to scale this program fast. We don’t have time for people who are going to get stuck in the weeds – this is ready to grow now. It’s all there.
Laura: Macro-economic forces have aligned to create an opportunity for a disruptive initiative, which is precisely what the Angel Visa presents. In many ways, it’s a perfect storm. Agents who recognize this opportunity and are ready to move decisively will be well-compensated.
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Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.