EyeVerify, Kauffman CEOs Advocate For Immigrant Entrepreneurs (Video)

EyeVerify has hit several startup milestones in rapid succession since its inception in early 2012, raising $3.7 million of investment in its first 18 months of operation; winning Get In The Ring, an international pitch competition held in January; and earning two awards at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later that month.

That progress wouldn’t have been possible for the Kansas City, Kan.-based startup without the contributions of immigrants, EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush says.

“We need immigrants, we need their skillsets, their passion, their intelligence, their capabilities, in order to be successful in the United States,” Rush said.

EyeVerify makes software that uses the blood veins in the whites of a person’s eyes as unique identifiers for authentication. To access secure material with EyeVerify’s “Eyeprint” technology, a smartphone user snaps a photo of his eye; if the blood veins in the whites of the eye match those in the user’s photo on file, access is granted.

The technology was developed by an Iranian immigrant, professor Reza Derakhshani, in 2006 at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Rush licensed the technology out of UMKC and created EyeVerify.

During the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship Address last month in Washington, Kauffman president and CEO Tom McDonnell cited EyeVerify as an example of the important role immigrants play in U.S. entrepreneurship.

“We need more EyeVerifys, and more Toby Rushs,” McDonnell said. “Improvements in standards of living depend on new ideas, new ways of organizing, and new skills.”

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