Ivan Fernandez de Casadevante (back row, 4th from left), co-founder and lead engineer at Ori.
The U.S. has no startup visa, and this makes it really hard for talented people to stay in the country after graduation.
Ivan is a co-founder of MorphLab, a company that designs furniture that can transform into a kitchen, shower, and office—offering flexibility and comfort in tiny apartments. If not for the GEIR (Global Entrepreneur in Residence) program, Ivan would have been forced to return to Spain after graduating from MIT.
Today, most Americans live in cities, and the country’s urban population is quickly rising. As cities become more popular, access to affordable housing presents a significant challenge. Ivan Fernandez de Casadevante is part of a team of recent MIT graduates that thinks they have a solution to the problem. The Spanish native is a co-founder of Ori, a company that grew out of a research project at MIT’s Media Lab. Ori has developed a technology that allows you to reconfigure a space on demand, transforming your bedroom into a living room, office, or kitchen. “This technology drastically improves the affordability and efficiency of micro-apartments by allowing for the reconfiguration of space in a magical and joyful way,” Casadevante says.
After graduation, Casadevante and his co-founders were eager to bring their technology to market. “We saw an industry with real potential for innovation, where very little innovation was happening,” he says. And yet, the U.S. immigration system almost stood in the way. “The U.S. has no startup visa, and this makes it really hard for talented people to stay in the country after graduation.” Luckily, Casadevante was able to secure a high-skilled H-1B visa through the Global Entrepreneurs in Residence (GEIR) program. “If not for this program, I would have had to go back to Spain,” he says.
Today, Ori is growing rapidly. They have eight employees—three of whom are immigrants—and hope to double in size by the end of this year. Casadevante likens the company to the iPhone, which changed the entire mobile phone industry: “We want to create a new era in the housing industry,” he says. “We’re a really ambitious team and are working hard to make this dream a reality.”
Ori joined the VDC in November 2015, at the conclusion of the MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator. Ori applied for and was granted an H-1B visa for Ivan in the national lottery, which means he can “graduate” from the VDC in October 2016 and work full-time growing Ori.