Finances and Sponsors
Finance and Sponsorship Responsibilities Overview
Techstars Startup Week organizing teams are responsible for funding their events. In-kind or monetary sponsorship will be the main source of funding for your event. The cost of running an Online event should be lower than an offline event as you will not need to cover venue and catering.
Your main expenditures will be:
Marketing: Ads, promo, printing, swag, software (like Mailchimp), PR, design, video, and photography
Programming: Speaker travel and other costs associated with individual tracks
Venues: A/V equipment, decor, food and beverage, furniture rentals, signage, transportation, and vendor services
Tech tools (online event): Streaming tool and networking tool
Financial management and raising funds for the event is 100% the responsibility of the organizing team. There is no financial or accounting support. While Techstars can provide general guidelines for managing your event budget, you will need to familiarize yourself with your local business legislation to ensure compliance with local reporting requirements and regulations.
Please be aware that for business operations, you may need to establish a separate legal entity, or partner with an existing entity, depending on the regulations in your country. This may also require opening a new business bank account. Depending on which country you’re organizing in, these tasks might be time consuming. Therefore, we recommend that you get this out of the way as soon as possible. Sponsors will be more inclined to provide funds to a business account.
Please note that Techstars cannot provide financial or legal advice to organizing teams, so please don’t interpret anything we say as such.
Finding sponsors are key to making sure you have the budget to deliver a quality experience to the local community and cover costs associated with running a Startup Week.
You can offer different levels (or tiers) of sponsorship for cash amounts, specifying what the sponsor will receive in return for their level of sponsorship (for example, different levels of social media coverage or their logo on banners at the venue or on T-shirts.) You may also opt for having one sponsorship level as it can help to keep expectations and deliverables consistent among all sponsors, reducing the risk of confusion or dissatisfaction.
We recommend making a list of all potential sponsors and starting outreach right away. In addition to reaching out to local venues, caterers and tech companies, consider researching past tech or community events in your city and checking who sponsored these events. Think who might be interested in having your participants as customers.
It helps to set deadlines for raising sponsorship. For example, ‘By x date / in the next 2 weeks, we should raise x amount of sponsorship.’ You can use your organizer checklist to assign this task to the sponsorship lead or the person deemed most appropriate for reaching out, and add a date of completion to keep track of the task.
5 Steps to Securing Sponsorship
Please review this five-step guide to securing sponsorship.
Determine the amount of sponsorship you need prior to outreach. We recommend setting your fundraising target at 150% (1.5x) of your total estimated event expenses to account for unforeseen expenses.
It helps to set three different targets:
Minimum goal: The absolute minimum you need to run a Startup Week.
Target goal: What you’re aiming to raise to provide an exceptional experience.
Maximum sponsorship limit: This is where you cap your sponsorship and helps to show that you’re being realistic in your goals. Anything above your target goal and below your maximum sponsorship limit helps to enhance the overall event.
02. Understand the sponsor’s needs
Research potential sponsors and identify if they have a history of sponsoring community events or local entrepreneurial or tech events.
Use your networks to find the right people within different organizations to reach out to and learn more about their motivations for sponsoring events. They might want to engage with a population of motivated, community-minded entrepreneurs, or build brand awareness within the local startup community.
03. Mindful outreach
Companies don’t make decisions — people do.
Leverage your network to help obtain a warm introduction to pitch your event. Before you reach out to sponsors, we recommend having your website and social media page(s) published online so that the potential sponsor can see your progress.
04. Making the request
When it’s time to reach out to sponsors, here are some best practices:
Update all online social media platforms regularly, including the pictures and short biographies of the organizing team on the event page.
Align their goals with the benefits of sponsoring a Startup Week.
Specify the target sponsorship level(s) and benefits associated with that level.
Keep it short and to the point.
05. Be clear and transparent
Once a sponsor agrees to support your Startup Week, develop a clear and transparent agreement.
Some best practices:
Document the commitment in writing.
Clarify the terms of the agreement, including the exact amount and preferred method of payment, to avoid ambiguity.
Discuss and record branding and communication requirements for each sponsorship tier.
Communicate key milestones leading up to the event.
Establish mutual trust and continue to nurture the relationship.
Working With Your Sponsors
It’s of extreme importance that you adhere to your sponsorship agreement and represent their logo and messaging correctly. You will also need to add your sponsor logos to your event management platform. We provide guidelines for this in our instructions for setting up your event.
Depending on your relationship with the sponsor, you might want to ask if they can recommend anyone else who would be willing to sponsor your Startup Week.
After the event, we recommend sending a wrap-up summary report and thank you email.
Remember to stay in touch with the sponsor and nurture your new network connections. Connections to local businesses could produce surprising partnership opportunities in the future for both parties.
If you are struggling to raise sponsorship, tap into your local network for ideas or contacts, or get in touch with your Techstars community support contact.
A sponsorship invoice is a legal document that serves as a receipt for your sponsor. This document can be necessary to validate the payment or in-kind sponsorship that you receive from your sponsor.
The requirements for invoicing can be different from country to country, but here is a general list of what to include. Some will be legal requirements; some are simply preferable – you’ll need to check. Items to include in your invoice:
A unique invoice number
Your business name and contact details
Your tax number, VAT number, or business registration number (a variable dependent on country)
Customer’s name and contact details
Due date (if not paid upfront)
Breakdown of items and their unit cost plus total
Any tax charged
Total invoice amount
Any discounts applied
Any payment terms you may have. Some kind of note, thank you, or friendly reminder