@Nayan - yeah, I tried to clarify in my follow up the situations I was in where it was not a lottery or where I had multiple chances to convert a STEM F-1 or J-1 visa holder to an H1-B (so losing the lottery would have had minimal impact). In all cases, the employee started working with us immediately. These are actually both pretty common situations to come across when recruiting in the US.
It's not research - just sharing my actual experience; I find people are very negative when speaking about the H1-B process generally in terms of cost & hassle, and I'm concerned it encourages entrepreneurs unfamiliar with the process to assume they can't use it to grow their team this way - and I think they should consider it. There are lots of non-US citizens/green card holders (who are already in the US) that can be fantastic startup team members.
In retrospect, this point is off-topic for this thread since it's about someone coming to the US for the first time; that specifically is definitely a lottery situation AND it means they won't be able to start for 6 months, as Dirk said, even if they get it. I was probably too quick to post, but I saw that $15-20k cost estimate (which Dirk retracted) and pulled the trigger... Apologies if it's been a distraction.