A few weeks ago we announced that UP Global is joining forces with Techstars. Techstars! This is both huge and irrelevant news for Startup Weekend organizers around the world. I’m partially joking by calling it irrelevant, it is big news, but I say that because Startup Weekend is not going anywhere and the mission remains the same. Regardless, new things can be scary, and as the dust settles I’d like to point out a few reasons why I’m extremely excited about the direction we’re heading.
Startup Weekend will become a bigger player in Startup Communities. If you are reading this, you are most likely already a fan of Startup Weekend. You understand the value and how important our programing can be to support budding entrepreneurs. Outside of this great group however, is a larger community of people unfamiliar to Startup Weekend. They are not privy to the opportunity and value these events provide. We as an organization have had a hard time sharing all the success that we see come out of our events. As Techstars, we have bigger megaphone. We will now be much closer to the success of later stage companies. Working with successful startups will help us identify our own success stories earlier and also improve our early stage resources upstream. Seeing an entrepreneur from idea to IPO means we’ll be able to deliver better, more relevant programing.
I also suspect that we will have more committed attendees and sponsors. For the same reason above, attendees and sponsors are attracted to hard data. The more success stories we can highlight, the more high quality attendees and sponsors we’ll attract.
We’ll be able to provide people more opportunities after the weekend. We get asked again and again “how can we help teams after the weekend?” My answer varies on the type of person but in all honestly I don’t think we’ve completely figured it out. Startup Next was our first attempt, but we’ve found that there is still a large learning gap between Startup Weekend and Next. Joining Techstars now allows us the opportunity to look at the entire picture and find new ways of support. We’re very adamant about keeping Startup Weekend ‘accelerator agnostic’, but we will now have a new very useful channel to help provide funding and resources for the teams we know are interested in moving forward.
We will have less restrictions as a for-profit entity allowing us to do more. Our nonprofit status was a key part of our success in the early days. It allowed us to reach foundations and partners that would not have been able to support us had we been a for-profit. More importantly, it helped build trust among organizers who are selflessly building their local communities. However, you’ll notice that we’ve never fully operated like other nonprofits. We’ve never asked individuals for donations, or held galas and other fundraising events. Instead, the 501c3 tax-exempt status was used as tool to explain our intent and drive home the Startup Weekend mission. Our community has grown significantly in the last few years, and has been the major force holding us (both HQ and other community members) accountable to our mission. Which makes me feel confident that we can shed the tax mandated non-profit restrictions and create self imposed restrictions instead. This means that HQ will be able to relinquish some of the control we needed in the past, and provide more flexibility/ownership for organizers. Learn more about our new status.
Our Mission isn’t changing, and we now have more resources to support the global community. We sometimes see Startup Weekend as our child; we want it grow up healthy, and independent, without getting hurt. Like any overprotective parent, our team has done a lot of research and feel that this is one of the best things for our future. The structure and mission of our events will not change, but we now have a much bigger family to provide more support and opportunities. I’m extremely excited for our future, and hope that you will be alongside me as we watch Startup Weekend grow.