Immigrate simplifies immigration processes for individuals and businesses. Keli Propp shares her inspiration for founding it, crucial skills, and the challenges faced. She discusses Immigrate's innovative features, such as end-to-end tracking for enterprises. Keli talks about the promising trends in immigration tech, AI, and machine learning, and Immigrate's position to capitalize on them. She shares opportunities for Immigrate's future, including providing more value and custom recommendations.
You co-founded Immigrate in 2017, even though building a startup is notoriously hard. What inspired you to take that step?
Keli Propp: I co-founded Immigrate because I saw that there was an accessibility barrier with Immigration - it was tough and stressful. I wanted to solve that for people on a large scale as my partner had an immigration firm that was always at capacity.
I’m very analytical, and I really enjoy solving problems which intrigue me. I saw/heard that a lot of immigrants were having problems with applications, and I knew we could break this down into easier steps. I was willing to dive into this challenge because I saw that it could make people’s dreams possible.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself when you were founding Immigrate?
Keli Propp: It’s all worth it! All of those sleepless nights and stress are worth it if I know that we have helped even one person achieve their dream - and we’ve helped a lot more than that now. I have these moments of delight working with our wonderful team and seeing them grow. And I’m proud to be a role model for my three kids, showing them that they can achieve crazy things too.
What skills have been most important in making this a success?
Keli Propp: I believe I have strong people skills and problem-solving skills. When I see a problem, I search out for the best solutions; solutions that make it easy for people. It’s really important to empathize with your customers to find the right solutions to their challenges.
Can you describe the innovative features or tools that Immigrate offers?
Keli Propp: One of our most innovative tools is end to end tracking for enterprises. An enterprise can easily see the status and progress for their own applications, plus all the applications of new hires. It makes it simple to see who they've hired and what part of the immigration journey they’re on. They can see all of this info on their phone, while it gets rid of spreadsheets and long email chains. No more waiting for weeks on the status updates.
Employers can make plans ahead of time for when they need to hire the next group of workers, knowing which business location they’ll be placed at.
Can you describe the most significant challenge your team has faced while developing Immigrate, and how you overcame it?
Keli Propp: Automating form filling in a variety of government forms was a big challenge. Data entry takes a really long time, and one immigration case could include a worker, their family members, and a company with complex corporate structures. Gradually, we found really solid ways to fill these complex government PDF forms in under five seconds.
What are the most promising trends you're seeing in the immigration tech space, and how is Immigrate positioned to capitalize on them?
Keli Propp: I think one of the most promising trends that I'm seeing is automated forms and data transfer. I have even seen some companies use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict different types of forms to be used, which we have in our roadmap. Machine learning could make immigration more self-serving. Another trend is that a lot of people want to be in control of their own applications and do it themselves. We’ve got a lot on the go to help with that: more tutorials, machine learning, chatbots, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guides on how to do everything.
AI and machine learning are really hot topics - is Immigrate planning on incorporating them into its tech?
Keli Propp: Machine learning can make the start of the onboarding, or the start of the application process, way more efficient. It can understand historical data, especially if you have a family and you are coming to Canada - what is the chance of success in your particular situation? It can really simplify the communication process, or even help businesses plan their future staffing needs. That's how I think machine learning and AI will work for us.
Looking to the future, what are some of the biggest opportunities you see on the horizon for Immigrate?
Keli Propp: People need to enter a lot of information to fill out an immigration application. I’d like to give them the option to get more value out of work they’re already putting in. For example, we can create more advanced reports for businesses. For immigrants, we could provide more custom recommendations that help them get settled in their new communities.
To me, this is all about developing a community for customers. Whatever resources we can provide them with around the immigration process, I want to make available.