From B-1 visa to O-1 visa as a Y Combinator backed founder

Updated on April 29, 2024


  • Grew up in Kiev, Ukraine in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • Family of scientists and linguists – grandparents were physicists and economics professors
  • Inspired by entrepreneurs and wanted to create things from a young age
  • Started using computers at age 4, learned programming
  • Made websites as a teenager in the early 2000s

Visa Journey


  • Studied mathematics in college in Ukraine

Arrival in the US:

  • Came to the US in 2012 to start his company Petcube after going through a hardware accelerator in China
  • Went through Y Combinator on the 4th try, a couple years after initially coming to the US

First Visa and Year:

  • Used a B1/B2 visa to come to the US initially in 2012
  • Later got a J1 student visa by taking some English classes in order to stay longer
  • Eventually got an O-1 visa associated with his company Petcube

Current job:

  • CEO and Co-Founder of Petcube


  • Yes, founded Petcube in 2012, a company that makes pet cameras and products. Has raised over $15M.

Visa journey:

  • Came on B1/B2 visa
  • Got J1 student visa by taking English classes
  • Got O-1 visa tied to his company
  • Applied for green card lottery but didn’t get it
  • Eventually got an EB-1 green card, expedited process took 4 days

Countries lived in:

  • Ukraine
  • USA

Key advice:

  • Choosing the right idea and market for a startup is critical
  • Having co-founders you know well and complement you is very important
  • Passion for learning and being challenged is key for founders
  • Use your unique background as an advantage in your strategy
  • Spend time closely understanding your customers and the product
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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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