Spain’s loss is the United States’ gain. Juan is such an asset in terms of biotechnology. It was absolutely my pleasure to help an individual of his intellectual caliber come to the US.
LOS ANGELES January 11, 2018
Seville, Spain, is world renowned for a specific species of bitter oranges. More than 14,000 bitter orange trees decorate the streets and infuse this charming city with the scent of their blossoms each spring.
The bitter orange is perfect for making marmalade because of its elevated pectin content; however, the fruit most often lies unused in the streets during harvest season because let’s face it, who has time to prepare anything homemade anymore?
In 2010, together with three college classmates, biotech entrepreneur, Juan Diego Cordon Toledano, saw opportunity in the fruit that littered the streets of his hometown and began looking for ways to increase its demand.
“We saw a problem: incredible waste and profit loss to farmers,” Toledano said. “But, instead of stopping there, we looked at it as an opportunity to develop something new.”
Educated in biotechnology and inspired by the fermentation process, Toledano and his peers decided to experiment with fermentation of oranges. After months of work, they arrived at a healthier alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages using fermented orange juice. They discovered that fermented orange juice resembles a Mimosa in flavor with fewer calories and less sugar than regular orange juice. Natural fermentation creates a small amount of alcohol content, making Orange Ferment (Cordon Toledano’s product) a much healthier alternative to orange juice or traditional alcoholic beverages.
“This is a natural, organic product that can be enjoyed during the day,” Toledano said. “It’s refreshing and bubbles much like beer, but with fewer calories and a much lighter flavor. This means it could be enjoyed midday without the consumer missing a beat.”
Toledano’s classmates became his business partners in an eight-year venture to mass produce this innovative new beverage and distribute it to the masses. The group received several prestigious awards and recognition in Spain and throughout Europe, yet Toledano wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more.
Toledano began to consider a huge step: moving to the US. He faced a crossroad. Should he remain in Spain and keep fighting for funding and market exposure? Or take a calculated risk and try studying in America?
“I knew I had a solid product that people would buy, but it wasn’t happening at the rate I hoped for in the European market,” Toledano said. “So in 2015, I chose to leave my company, Grupo Hespérides, and move to the United States to pursue an MBA. After school, I wasn’t sure where my path would lead. But I knew I had to take a leap of faith.”
Toledano came to the United States on an F1 Student Visa, which granted him lawful entry on a short-term and temporary basis along with his participation in an academic or educational program. He arrived in California and enrolled in Hult International Business School in San Francisco.
After one year of study and one year of “Optional Practical Training,” Toledano’s visa was nearing expiration. Wanting to stay and work in the US, he began searching for legal advice and settled on Los Angeles-based immigration firm, Rupert Law Group. Founding attorney, Angie Rupert, personally handled his case.
“Angie was amazing to work with,” Toledano said. “She really took care of me. We applied for an O1 visa and it was granted almost immediately. This process can take months, but that wasn’t my experience.”
Rupert recommended the O1 visa because it is reserved for individuals that possess extraordinary ability within their chosen field of work.
“While every immigration case tends to be complicated in its own way,” Rupert said. “Juan had overwhelming evidence of his extraordinary ability. He came here with an amazing work history and educational background.”
Although Toledano applied for the O1 visa based on extraordinary ability as a biotechnologist, the O1 visa applies to anyone with “extraordinary ability” in the fields of science, art, education, business or sports. It also can be applied to those with extraordinary achievements in television and/or movie industries.
“Juan is exactly the type of person the O visa was made for,” Rupert said. “He is smart, talented and incredibly driven. Spain’s loss is the United States’ gain. Juan is such an asset in terms of biotechnology. It was absolutely my pleasure to help an individual of his intellectual caliber come to the US.”
Visa in hand, Toledano is employed by the Helmsman Group where he helps develop and launch a variety of food and beverage products. Thanks to the support he received from Rupert Law Group and others, Toledano is able to pursue his dreams and continue to immerse himself in the US food and biotechnology market.
“I was extremely nervous in anticipation of the government’s response,” Toledano said, “but I sailed through. I give Angie credit for simplifying everything. She said we’d take it ‘step-by-step,’ and that’s exactly what we did. No problems.”
Rupert is humbler regarding the process. “Juan was a fantastic client. He had great evidence, and the government obviously saw that. We were diligent, but Juan is the one who deserves the credit. He’s the one who studied and worked so hard for years.”
As far as the future, Toledano is leaving his options open. That said, he is an incredibly driven individual. “It is my hope that in the future, Seville, Spain is not only known for its bitter oranges,” Toledano said, “but also as the hometown of a world-renowned biotechnologist.”
For more information, please contact Angie Rupert at Rupert Law Group. (323) 434-4385, ARupert(at)RupertLawGroup(dot)com
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