MigRun wants to simplify the process of immigrating to a new country

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Two years ago, after Vlad Shipilov, a Russian immigrant, moved to Portugal, his business visa was denied because his lawyer was unaware of certain requirements related to visa applications originating from Russia. Ultimately, it took $16,000 to join immigration groups on Telegram and Facebook and the help of a Portugal-based friend to secure Shipilov his visa — and residency.

Shipilov quickly realized that his experience was not unique.

“I found that there are a lot of ‘handlers’ and scammers in this market,” Shipilov told TechCrunch in an email interview. “For example, Portuguese passive-income visa consulting agencies can cost $3,000, $5,000 or even $8,000, while lawyers charge $800 to $1,000 — and none of them offer guarantees. I believe your immigration should inspire you, not stress you out and cost you anything.”

So Shipilov, along with a friend he met in Portugal, Sergey Kotlov, began writing free guides, providing chat support and finding lawyers to offer low-cost or free advice to immigrants. The pair then decided to start a business – MigRun – to extend their support to new countries and migrant groups.

MigRun, a participant in the Startup Battlefield 200 competition at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, provides personalized support to people who have migrated to another country based on similar experiences of other migrants. MigRun compiles immigration cases and puts technology and analysis on top with free guides, notices, final reminders and notices.

“We help people experience predictability and security when traveling through their country like an expensive handler, but seven times cheaper and with a fully digital money-back guarantee,” Shipilov said. “We aim to convince people in developing countries that they can handle immigration on their own and don’t need to pay a lot for basic advice based on one person’s experience to feel safe.”

MigRun is not the only platform for migrants to connect with experts and file visa applications. Boundless, which recently acquired two other immigration-focused tech startups, Bridge and RapidVisa, takes note. Even by law.

But what sets MigRun apart is the breadth and depth of its platform, Shipilov insists — and its investment in automation.

For one thing, MigRun provides targeted resources not only to migrants from specific countries, but to groups of people migrating from one country to another — e.g. Morocco to Italy, Russia to Italy or Turkey to Italy. Users can chat with someone from their country of origin or country of residence who has gone through the same process, or tap a chat assistant trained on similar cases and publicly documented visa requirements.

“Our main goal is to create a network of immigration assistants who work exclusively on our platform,” Shipilov said. “We have detailed information on thousands of immigration cases and expect to handle thousands more in the future. This data includes full profiles of migrants, all documents used for visa and residence permit applications (including passports, birth certificates and bank records), chat logs of interactions between migrants and our assistants and more. We keep this data up to date, so if consulate or immigration office requirements change, we know about it immediately. We also know whether the application is approved or rejected and the reasons for rejection.”


MigRun offers a range of immigration resources, both paid and free.

MigRun uses this data to train its conversational assistant, called Virtual Assistance. Shipilov claims that it can lead to bias in immigration decisions, such as when an immigration officer’s reading of the law differs from the standard interpretation.

“Thanks to our extensive data set, our assistant can give very specific advice, for example how to apply for a Portuguese digital nomad visa in Istanbul,” Shipilov said. “In most cases, it is easier to get your application accepted to match the preferences of the particular officer or immigration office you are dealing with than to argue with them to prove you are the right fit. This can save a lot of time and money.”

This is a lot of sensitive data collected by MigRun — especially for migrants from countries with poor human rights records. Shipilov claims that the platform keeps migrants’ identities secret and does not pass personal data to third-party service providers without clearly explaining why it is necessary. But he admits that MigRun does Keep this data for a period of time – at least 90 days and up to one year – unless the user requests early deletion of their data.

Asked to explain MigRun’s retention policy, Shipilov said: “The rule is simple for us: we don’t sell personal data.”

MigRun – which sees immigration agencies like VisaDB as a competitor and legalese – has so far been completely bootstrapped. Shipilov claims the startup has more than 3,900 customers and 16,000 monthly active users.

The near-term plan is to focus on growth. Over the next year, seven-employee MigRun aims to add support for more countries, fund product development on the AI ​​assistant and paperwork automation side, and grow revenue by $3 million per year. (MigRun claims to have made $800,000 in its first 12 months.)

“Currently, we have a 50% profit margin, but we are looking to increase it to 70% by the end of 2024 and 90% in 2025 through AI assistants, automation and shrinking consultant roles,” Shipilov said. “More than 100 million people from developing countries migrate every year. So, even though we capture only 3% to 5% of the total market, which is worth $12 billion, it means we can help millions of professionals, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, talented individuals, passive income holders and families find their way. Better places, will dramatically change their lives and save billions of dollars.”

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