Guest post By Kathleen Fritzsche
Kathleen attended her first Startup Weekend in 2010 and has been co-organizing and facilitating several events since then. She co-founded StartUp Stuttgart in 2011, the main startup community in Southwest Germany, and Accelerate Stuttgart in 2012. Accelerate Stuttgart is building an accelerator program for startups in Stuttgart and the region. @Kathl_Fritzsche
After the announcement of the UP Global acquisition by Techstars I was asked to write about it from a community perspective. Eventually, it took me four weeks to come up with this post as it wasn’t easy to put all my thoughts into one text.
I recently had the chance to spend a few days with a bunch of amazing Startup Weekend facilitators and very good friends in Norway. It was like a big family reunion, old friends coming together with the certainty that all of us share a common story and vision.
I feel a special bond with these people, it’s my tribe. We are united by our vision to change the world through education and entrepreneurship and to help our local communities to grow and thrive. It feels very special to me to be part of this global movement of highly motivated entrepreneurs who want to give back to their communities.
We often have a similar story how we got involved with Startup Weekend in the first place. We attended our first event by chance, maybe because one of our friends told us to definitely attend this unusual event. We often had unsatisfying professional careers at that point and our first Startup Weekend was a complete game changer for our life plans. For my part, I turned away from a boring and safe corporate career to get involved with startups and to co-found a startup community initiative that later led to the creation of my current company.
Nevertheless, over the years I’ve also struggled with the organization behind the movement. I went through a few periods of doubt if this is the path I want to follow, volunteering for a global initiative with some serious problems on the organizational level. However, throughout my own struggles in life and business, I’ve always come back to Startup Weekend (or UP Global for a while) to find purpose and strength to continue what I truly love and believe in: inspiring other people and showing them opportunities beyond their predetermined career and outside their (and my) comfort zone.
At the time of the announcement of the acquisition, our Startup Weekend organizer and facilitator community went through big discussions, especially concerning the volunteering part for a now for-profit company. Many volunteers doubted and doubt their future commitment and involvement with the movement. I was honoured to be involved in part of the process leading up to the announcement, so I might be a bit biased. Nevertheless, I believe that it is a big opportunity for the whole community! Two tribes are joining forces with a common vision to change people’s lives through entrepreneurship. Techstars’ and Startup Weekend’s history are tied together from the beginnings. It all began with one event in Boulder in 2007, now we are at more than 7000 events in over 120 countries. It is a powerful movement with such a huge global impact over the years. I truly hope that Techstars will continue to follow the path Startup Weekend and UP Global paved!
I genuinely believe in the power of this tribe, my tribe! I always felt I was different – thank you to the Startup Weekend and UP Global family for giving me a home and connecting me to the crazy ones!