Before the Weekend
Q: How long do I have to wait to hear back after applying to become an organizer?
A: We aim to respond to every applicant within 72 business hours, excluding major regional public holidays. If you’ve not heard anything back from our team within 72 hours, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Q: I want to organize an event, but I have some questions before I apply.
A: We’d love to talk with you more about what you have in mind and answer any questions you might have. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a little background about your questions and previous experience, and tell us how we can help. The Techstars community support contact for your region will get in touch with you and schedule a call if need be.
Q: How do I apply?
A: Please review the Startup Weekend organizer requirements, and make sure that you qualify to apply to become an organizer. If you qualify, and you agree to our organizer rules, please fill out our application form.
Q: Can I organize this by myself?
A: Regardless of how capable you are, we will not approve an application for anyone to run a Startup Weekend by themselves. It takes around three months for 4 to 8 people to plan a Startup Weekend, and you’ll need a team who can help coordinate all the moving parts of organizing the event. Learn more about forming a team and the recommended roles and responsibilities the team need to cover.
Q: What if someone on the team quits?
A: It’s hard work to organize a Startup Weekend. Form a team with those you trust will see the event through to the end. We recognize that unexpected things happen that lead to team members needing to drop out. We expect those who need to decommit from their roles to communicate this with their teams as soon as they can, so that teams can find someone else to provide support. Set these expectations with team members from the start.
Q: Can Techstars Startup Weekend help me with a visa to organize a Startup Weekend in another country?
A: No. Organizers are expected to be connected to and want to support their local community. We also do not provide visa assistance to participants who want to attend a Startup Weekend in another country.
Q: Can I organize a youth event for participants under 16 years old?
Due to regulations put in place in recent years (around parental consent and youth data), Techstars is not permitted to run any youth events, targeted specifically at young people under 16 years old, at this time.
Q: What tools does Techstars provide to help us organize our Startup Weekend?
A: Techstars provides the event platform that you will use for ticket registration and event information. We also provide a master planning document, organizer checklist, email templates, a brand kit, sponsorship outreach, workshop decks, a quick reference guide, and more. You can see a list of available tools and resources.
Q: Do we have to charge for tickets?
A: Unless otherwise agreed upon with your Techstars community support contact, all Startup Weekends must charge an admission fee to participants. We’ve found that having a small barrier to entry drastically reduces participant last-minute cancellation and drop-out rate. The ticket prices should be affordable, and at the same time encourage some commitment.
Q: How do I create my event website?
A: We provide you with the platform to create your own event website. You’ll be able to set up your ticket registration, host your event information. and schedule on the same platform. See our step-by-step guide on how to set up your event website.
Q: How many participants should I recruit?
A: Startup Weekend can support anywhere from 25-125 participants, but the ideal number is right around 80 participants. When you’re engaging in community outreach, make sure you’re including people with diverse backgrounds and skills. We recommend having a good mix of people with marketing, technical, creative, business, and-or non-technical backgrounds at your event. We believe that having a balanced participant group will ultimately result in stronger teams and an overall better participant experience.
Q: Can we provide discounts for tickets to certain groups?
A: Yes, you can provide discount codes for certain groups you are trying to attract to your event. You might also want to consider providing discount codes to students and those to whom the cost of a ticket might be a barrier to entrepreneurship. If you have sponsors attending your event, you likely need to provide a couple of free tickets — you can do this by offering ticket discount codes as well. We advise against ‘buddy discounts,’ since this is unfair to the rest of your participants and not good business practice.
Q: Can I see an example event schedule?
A: Yes, you can see an example event schedule on the Schedule page. Both in-person and online event schedule templates are available in your Planning Sheet.See Remember, you should create your event schedule in your event management platform so that you’re able to publish this to your participants when ready.
Q: Can I change the event schedule to be on 3 different days of the week?
A: In some countries, a weekend, or 2 days off, falls on other days of the week. If your country falls within this category, you are welcome to change the days of your event to your calendar weekend. We usually discourage holding Startup Weekends on work days, since this creates a barrier for a lot of people to attend (not to mention the event is of course called Techstars Startup ‘Weekend’), but please do reach out to your Techstars community support contact to discuss further.
Q: I need to cancel my event — how do I do this?
A: Please contact your Techstars community support contact as soon as you find out that you need to cancel your event. We’ll first discuss some options to see how we can help get the team back on track. If necessary, we can help you cancel or postpone your event and discuss possible future dates to hold your event instead.
Q: How do I recruit participants to attend my event?
A: You encourage people to attend by generating excitement and educating potential participants on the impact and value of attending a Startup Weekend. We provide promotional materials and strategies to help you with this.
Q: Can I build my own event website?
A: As part of your licencing agreement, you have to agree to use our event management platform. When participating in a Startup Weekend it’s important that participants receive a unique, tailored Techstars experience and are provided visibility to our greater global network. The event platform is customizable so that you can bring your own authentic content to the site, whilst adhering to our branding rules and guidelines.
Q: Can Techstars promote my event for me?
A: There are too many individual Startup Weekend events happening across the world to dedicate time and resources to promote each one. In some cases where many events join a larger initiative, Techstars will promote the initiative under which the events fall. If you’re struggling to recruit participants to your event, please see our promotional templates and strategies or contact your Techstars Community Support Contact to discuss further options.
Q: Can you provide clear messaging around what Techstars and Techstars Startup Weekend is?
A: Yes — It’s important to communicate a consistent message to potential participants, sponsors, mentors, judges, speakers, and everyone else who you are asking to be a part of your event. See our messaging guidelines.
Q: Can I add other team members to Desygner?
A: No, there is only one login per organizing team. The lead organizer (the person that submits the application) will receive an invitation to create an account. Once the account is created, the log in details can be shared with the team members.
Q: How can I create my city event logo and add it to different templates?
Finance and Sponsorship
Q: I’ve never had to raise sponsorship before — how do I do this?
A: Organizing a Startup Weekend is a great educational experience to learn how to raise sponsorship. We provide sponsorship outreach email templates and outreach strategies, as well as a sponsorship deck with pre-filled information about the mission, structure, and impact of Techstars Startup Weekend, and the value for partners of sponsoring a Startup Weekend. Read all about our recommended best practices for raising sponsorship.
Q: How does one set up a legal entity?
A: You may need to establish a separate legal entity for business operations if you’re unable to use an existing entity. If necessary, consult a legal advisor who can donate their time to help guide your business operations, but there should be plenty of information available relevant to your country and region. You can reach out to your Techstars community support contact for more information and guidance. Please note that Techstars Startup Weekend cannot provide financial or legal advice to organizing teams.
Q: What should I do with the profit from our event?
A: Since Techstars Startup Weekend cannot provide financial or legal advice to organizing teams, we cannot tell you what to do with your profit. Some teams have used profit from Startup Weekend to invest back into the community by running community workshops, meetups, or more Startup Weekends, but this is entirely up to the discretion of the team.
Q: What should I do if a participant wants a refund?
A: Techstars Startup Weekend organizing teams are required to honor refund requests up to 7 days before the first day of the event. We don’t recommend offering refunds the week of the event due to the need to pre-purchase catering, snacks, and supplies. We feel that this is fair to participants and fair to organizing teams. In the event that a ticket is not eligible for a refund, we recommend that participants donate their ticket to someone else — #GiveFirst.
Q: How do I process a refund?
A: You are able to process a refund through the ticketing section within your event management platform. There is no need to contact Techstars to do this.
Q: What are Global Partners?
A: Techstars Startup Weekend global partners work with Techstars directly to support Startup Weekend participants across the world with tools and services. They support our global mission of developing entrepreneurial ecosystems and communities, and making entrepreneurship accessible to all. See a list of our global partners and their offerings.
Q: What is the role of a facilitator?
A: A facilitator is a member of the Techstars Startup Weekend community who has organized at least two Startup Weekends. Many continue to organize Startup Weekends even after they’ve become a facilitator. They are considered resident Startup Weekend experts and are there to support your team, help everything go smoothly during your event, and make sure that all attendees have a rich, positive experience. Read more about the responsibilities of your facilitator.
Q: When will I get paired to a facilitator?
A: We aim to pair a facilitator to an event at least two months prior to the event. There is no action required from the organizing team to be paired with a facilitator. Techstars will introduce you to your facilitator as soon as you have been paired.
Q: What information does the facilitator need from the organizing team?
Travel and Accommodation: Your facilitator will need their travel and accommodation costs paid for by your team. Please work with your facilitator to get this confirmed at least two weeks before your event.
Facilitator Deck: Facilitators use a facilitator deck for their presentation throughout the event. Techstars provides the deck template, but they will need the following information at least one to two weeks prior to the event to complete the deck:
information about the venue
local sponsorship information and logos
information about prizes, if applicable
pictures and bios of the speaker, the organizing team, mentors, and judges
information about workshops and other activities or logistical information
the event schedule
Q: Can I choose my own facilitator?
A: You have to use a certified Techstars Startup Weekend facilitator for your event. If you want a specific person who is a certified Techstars Startup Weekend facilitator to facilitate your event, please let your Techstars community support contact know, and we will try our best to accommodate should that individual be available.
Q: What if I don’t get along with my assigned facilitator?
A: We have had very few instances of teams and their assigned facilitators not getting along. Everyone is there because of their commitment to their local community, and we find that when everyone is working together towards a common goal, there are few issues within the team. Saying that, we will review your request for another facilitator. In the event of any conflict, please contact your Techstars community support contact as soon as possible to discuss options.
During the Weekend
Q: What should we bring to the event?
A: Apart from organizing catering for the seven meals throughout the weekend, you’ll need to remember:
Any collateral and swag that you designed and produced for the weekend including posters, roll-up banners, nametags, stickers, t-shirts, and pens
Printouts of judging forms and mentor signup sheets
Supplies like pens, post-its, extra charging cables, power extension cords, and adaptors
A variety of tasty and nutritious snacks and drinks
Your laptops and phones with charging cables. Make sure you’re able to register participants and final pitch attendees from your event management platform through your laptop. Confirm you have a space at the venue to safely and securely store your personal belongings.
Q: Does everyone on the organizing team have to stay the entire weekend?
A: Not necessarily, but we highly recommend each team member being there for most of the weekend, pulling their weight. It can be stressful and tiring to deal with all the logistics involved in running the event, and the more people to help, the better. It’s the final push to make your event a huge success, and you’ll have more control over its success by being there in-person (where possible). It's also incredibly rewarding to witness the personal growth in participants — from 60-second pitches on Friday night to final pitches on Sunday night!
Q: What resources/assistance are provided to participants over the weekend?
A: A key part of every Techstars Startup Weekend is the valuable advice and assistance provided by the event’s speakers and mentors. Mentors — community experts in various fields like entrepreneurship, software development, marketing, finance, law, and more — dedicate their time to help provide advice to participating teams. In addition to the most valuable resources at the weekend (the people), we’ve put together a list of some useful tools and resources for participants before, during, and after the weekend.
Q: What do I say if someone asks me about the issue of intellectual property or ownership during the weekend?
A: Participants sign an agreement when they register for tickets to not bring any legal documentation to the event. Techstars Startup Weekend doesn’t retain or claim ownership to any ideas, as that is left up to the teams. We do acknowledge that the issue of patents and copyright is an important one. It’s also one that is a question of risk and reward for participants.
Our guidance around this issue is to emphasize that Techstars Startup Weekend is about the educational experience of learning how to build a business, not the legal activities to register that business. Even if participants don’t pitch the idea that they are worried about someone ‘stealing,’ they can still take the learnings from the weekend and apply it to their idea afterwards. Participants should also focus on making valuable connections with mentors and other participants during the weekend, some of whom they may want to involve going forward. Participation is still valuable, regardless of the idea.
Techstars Startup Weekend does not support or take part in the signing of any legal documents at the events and cannot provide financial or legal advice. Similarly, while mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to provide specific legal counsel.
Q: What happens in case of an emergency?
A: No one event is the same, and therefore it is impossible to control every detail of your event. The key to dealing with emergencies is to be flexible and resilient. You should prepare for what you can, and calmly, efficiently deal with what you can’t. Emergencies can take many forms, like someone falling ill, an electrical storm cutting the power to your venue, or an act of violence. Having an event emergency plan should help lead to better outcomes and a safer environment for everyone. We recommend that you reach out to the venue and review their emergency plan. The plan should include the location of emergency exits, how to contact emergency personnel, and what to do in case of a medical emergency, fire, etc. Please read our complete guidelines on emergencies.
After the Weekend
Q: How do I find out if my event was a success?
A: To determine event success you will need to define what success looks like to you. Did you sell as many tickets as you wanted? What kind of feedback did your participants give you during the weekend? Did you stick to the schedule? It’s important to report on your event’s success to your sponsors in your wrap-up email to them. Techstars will send a participant survey about a week after your event, and we will share results with you.
Q: How can I get more involved in the Techstars network?
A: There are many ways of getting more involved in the Techstars network.
Join a Techstars portfolio company
Check out our Talent Network, where you can apply to join one of our Techstars portfolio companies. This can help you gain more experience working in a startup before you take the plunge to start your company.
Become a Startup Weekend facilitator
Once you’ve organized at least two Techstars Startup Weekends, the next natural step could be to grow into a facilitator role. While the Startup Weekend facilitator journey differs from facilitator to facilitator, the role has many valuable benefits for professional and personal development.
Become a Startup Digest curator
Techstars Startup Digest works with local curators to deliver relevant startup content to innovators around the world. Whether it’s their first company or their fifth, Techstars Startup Digest connects founders with their local startup community through events and quality content. If you are interested in curating, you can apply to become a curator.
Organize a Startup Week
Techstars Startup Week is a five-day, entrepreneur-led, community event held in cities across the world showcasing the city’s startup ecosystem through meetups, lectures, discussions, and celebrations. The intent is to bring entrepreneurs together while building momentum and opportunity around a local community’s unique entrepreneurial identity. You can read more about Startup Week, and apply when you’re ready.
Q: What kind of support can Techstars Startup Weekend provide participants to help their teams launch?
A: Techstars Startup Weekend primarily focuses on providing an entry point to entrepreneurship, but our support and community spans much further beyond the weekend. Whether participants are ready to accelerate their business or want to help undefinedentrepreneurial ecosystem, Techstars is here to help any way we can. Visit Techstars.com to learn more.
Event platform, by MeeteR
Q: Can I change the cover photo in MeeteR?
A: You can change the Cover image using the curated images provided on your MeeteR page. This change can be made in the Media section under the Event Manager tab.
Q: Can I lower the number of tickets available after tickets have been sold and remove unavailable tickets?
A: Once tickets have been sold, you cannot lower the quantity of tickets available, you can only raise the number. You can however close the tickets that you no longer want to show available. Please note, once you close the ticket, the participants will still see the closed ticket when they click to register. They will have to scroll down to view the open ticket options available. MeeteR recognizes that this is not ideal for the attendee user experience and is adding this feature to future updates of the platform.
Q: As the event will be free, can we have only one type of ticket for all participants?
A: You can customize ticket types as you wish. For free events, we still recommend having a variety of ticket types to identify participants' area of expertise. Please note that all in-person events must charge a registration fee. Online events have the option to offer free tickets or charge a ticket price. Review these requirements in the Finance section of the resource portal.
Q: The Timezone of my event is not showing up correctly on the schedule, how can I fix this?
A: This error is occurring because the organizers have the sessions going past the event times listed under the “Basic Info” tab. Once you update the times in this tab, the sessions automatically update with the correct time zone.
Q: I’ve activated both sponsorships in MeeteR. How do I make sure that participants can access them? Do I need to email them the codes or will they automatically be able to access them on their end?
A:You will need to send out communications to your participants with your event-specific codes so that they can enter the information to redeem.
Q: How do I add a couple of members of my team as co-organizers in MeeteR?
A: Head to our Resource Portal, in there you’ll find a section called “Inviting Your Co-organizers and Staff to the platform” on this page (here).
Q: Is there a way to email custom messages based on ticket type?
A: You can create a custom message by scrolling down and clicking on “Settings'' in the left hand menu. This message will be sent to participants once their registration and ticket purchase is complete, however, there is only the option to send 1 message per purchase.
Q: What's the best process you recommend for getting our banking info into the MeeteR platform?
A: To set up the payment account, you will need to log in to the event platform and once you are in the event, scroll down to the “Payments” tab in the left hand-menu. See Event Platform page for more details.
Q: How can I update existing mentors/coaches profiles?
A: If you are trying to update a profile of a mentor/facilitator/organizer that is already in the system, please remember that once that individual has accepted the invitation to create a profile, you will no longer be able to make changes for them. They will need to log in and update their profile themselves.
Q: Can I issue a partial refund?
A: You cannot issue partial refunds on MeeteR, only full refunds. The participant would have to re-register once the full refund is processed.
Q: How do I postpone my event on MeeteR?
Running Online Events
Q: When can I expect to receive information about running my online event?
A: In the past, you should have received information from us about applying for, and running an online event. If you have not received anything from us, please reach out to email@example.com.
Q: Will Techstars Startup Weekend online be a permanent option?
A: Covid-19 still makes the future uncertain and unpredictable. So, we don't know whether Techstars Startup Weekend will go back to only in-person or continue to include online events in the future. We will be looking at what makes the most sense for our communities, our CLs and the business.
Until we are more certain about the future outlook, we will support the online event model for as long as it makes sense and is requested by the community.
New Community Model
Q: What is the New Community Model?
A: A self-serve model that will give community leaders greater ownership of their events. We have developed a platform and a new toolset that empower CLs to independently set up and customize their events, while managing their own event finances.
Q: What has Changed?
A: New Brand + Graphic Design Tool (Desygner)
We’re excited to bring to you a new brand identity for Techstars Community. The new system integrates the unique aspects of our startup community programs into the core Techstars identity. For the first time, there will be a shared DNA across the Techstars ecosystem. We’ve also just launched Desygner, a simple graphic design tool that will help you as CLs produce customized, brand-compliant event assets.
New Event Platform, by MeeteR In the past, we’ve had two systems to manage events; SWOOP and a separate ticketing event platform. We’ve now consolidated these systems into a single event platform by MeeteR, (a Techstars alumni company). CLs will now be able to set up and manage their events through MeeteR. This platform was launched in the US on December 8th and will roll out internationally in 2021.
Community Resource Portal
Historically, community resources were scattered in many places and were pretty outdated. All of your resources have now been revamped and consolidated in one place - our new Community Resource Portal. The content has been split into 3 primary sections: Startup Weekend, Startup Week and facilitator resources.
Organizer License and Event Agreement
Techstars has created an organizer license and event agreement to help guide CLs through their event experience. It outlines the rights and clear guidelines for CLs to ensure all events worldwide maintain a high standard of excellence and provide a quality experience for participants.
A licensing agreement is a legal contract between two parties. Our new license agreement is more in depth than our previous Terms and Conditions and is focused on our relationship with CLs. We will not charge organizers any license fee under this agreement.
Q: How are you going to train me on the new tools?
A: Our new resource portal contains a number of training materials and guides to help you get up to speed with our new tools. We will also have our helpdesk available to field questions.
Q: Will the database of organizers, coaches, and mentors on SWOOP be migrated to the new event platform?
A: In early July 2020, we emailed a .CSV file to each event organizer containing their historical event details from SWOOP. This included information on their event mentors, coaches, and judges. Before the new platform is live, there won't be an accessible event database. You can access your information using the file we've sent over. For further support please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: You’ve mentioned a Techstars global rebrand. What is the new Techstars branding for Techstars Startup Weekend, Techstars Startup Week, and Techstars Startup Digest like?
A: Techstars launched a new brand identity last March, and we’ve begun rolling it out in phases throughout our company, network and global community. In December of 2020, we launched a new brand system to unify and elevate the collective identity of our programs. We’ve streamlined brand guidelines and provided an enhanced library of assets on the new event platform. Materials have launched alongside our new Techstars Community resources.
It's been very well received so far and we think it will be helpful for attracting volunteers, attendees and sponsors to your events!
Q: Is Techstars launching a new website for Techstars Startup Weekend and Techstars Startup Week?
A: Techstars has introduced a new Techstars Community website last year (2020). You can head to our Communities homepage to access them.
Q: Will there be greater flexibility on branding and co-branding guidelines with the new format?
A: We believe it's important to maintain consistency and clarity of branding to build the trust and excitement that attracts sponsors, volunteers and future CLs. No, there will not be greater flexibility with our branding.
However, we will provide you with more assets, resources and materials to support you with your event promotion and branding. We’ve adopted a new brand platform called Desygner to help create customized brand assets for your events
Techstars events cannot be co-branded: you may not link the Techstars Startup Weekend or Startup Week logos/identities/names to the name of another organization, non-profit, corporation or other entity
Techstars Startup Weekend Vision
Q: What do you mean when you say that the new model for Techstars Startup Weekend is self-serve?
A: The model gives you greater ownership in managing the execution of your event, with less need to rely on Techstars staff:
You will have full control over your own event finances, which means that any profit you make from events is yours to keep
Techstars will not be supporting any event finances and there will be no accounting support, so we will not be asking you to report your expenses
You will be able to set up your own events and customize the event website that we provide, rather than relying on our team to do everything for you.
Q: Why is Techstars making these changes and focusing on Techstars Startup Weekend for now?
A: We know you've been waiting patiently for some improvements! We've heard your feedback and incorporated it into our planning process, so that we now have an opportunity to make changes that will provide an enhanced experience for CLs.
The improvements and flexibility of the new systems require less hands-on support from Techstars staff. This will give our team more time to better engage with our CLs and their communities.
Q: How do I access support from Techstars during this Techstars Community transition?
A: As always, we'll be available to support you via email@example.com. Your Regional Manager and Customer Success Coordinator (CsC) will also be able to assist you with any questions.
Interim Process for Running Techstars Startup Weekend Events
Q: Can I still run events before the new event platform is available?
A: Yes! You can still run events!
Here is the new application form that you will find on our website
Q: Will I still be able to run offline (in-person) events?
A: The ability to hold in-person events will depend on local circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic, among other factors. We strongly encourage CLs to follow their local governmental guidelines around in-person events and access to public spaces, always prioritizing health and safety measures related to Covid-19.
It's also important to note that since Techstars is no longer controlling finances, the success of in-person events will depend on the team's ability to manage the finances for their event.
Q: What will the interim process look like?
A: Until your region is able to be on boarded onto the MeeteR platform, we will continue to use the same ticketing platform your region has been using (Eventbrite, Sympla, Google form, etc.).
Other things to note:
You will still be supported fully by the Customer Success Coordinators (CsC) and Regional Managers. You will receive the regular emails and resources you are accustomed to receiving during the course of planning your event.
Instead of SWOOP, during the interim process Techstars will use Asana as our project management tool, and we'll be able to track your event planning progress.
Also, if you are holding an event during this interim process period, your CsCs will work with you to create an event site (hosted on Tilda). If you are not sure who your CsC is, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: re we still going to use Eventbrite?
A: Yes, for the interim period before MeeteR is rolled out in your region, we will continue using Eventbrite (or the relevant event platform for your region), but we will stop using Eventbrite when we move your team to the new event management platform.
MeeteR supports both your community website and ticketing needs, so in the future there will not be a need for a separate ticketing site like Eventbrite.
Q: Can I add my own payment details to Eventbrite, so I can manage the team's event finances?
A: Yes! Techstars will have different templates with correct branding and event description.Your CsC will help you finalize your page with your payment information before we make it live.
If you are running a paid event, you will be able to add your own preferred payment methods to the Eventbrite page.
Please be aware that ticket refunds will need to be managed by the organizers directly with attendees, rather than through Techstars.
Techstars does not own the Eventbrite platform, and therefore, we do not have full control of the platform or the ability to address most technical needs. We will try and help you with any issues, but we are very limited in the help we can provide and you may have to work directly with Eventbrite, without the involvement or obligation of Techstars.
Please note that you alone are responsible for your use of Eventbrite and resolving any issues that arise yourself and directly with Eventbrite if Techstars cannot help. We recommend that any CL managing finances familiarize themselves with the Eventbrite payment processes here.
Q: What will happen to our community pages under this new model?
A: Organizing teams will still have their own event community web page, but instead of being linked to SWOOP, like it has been in the past, those sites will be hosted on a platform called MeeteR and be promoted on the Techstars’ website here.
Q: How do I access support from Techstars during this Techstars Community transition?
A: As always, we'll be available to support you via email@example.com. Your Regional Manager and Customer Success Coordinator (CsC) will also be able to assist you with any questions.
Q: Why have we stopped using SWOOP?
A: We used SWOOP for seven years but there are other tools available that meet our collective needs today. We want to provide a better tool for you to manage your events
Q: When did SWOOP go away?
A: CL access to SWOOP was discontinued on June 22 of 2020.
Q: What has replaced SWOOP?
A: A tool that supports both your community site and ticketing system in one platform. The new platform has been built with your feedback in mind; it's user-friendly, simple to use, and customizable.
Q: Will I be able to access my previous Techstars Startup Weekend event data?
A: Yes. The data was provided in .CSV file format via email on June 25 2020, to each CL who has organized events in the past. It includes the information on the "People" tab of your account: organizers, event staff, mentors, speakers, judges. If you did not get an email with this information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Will Techstars support finances in the new Techstars Community model?
A: Techstars will no longer provide accounting support for Techstars Startup Weekend events and all organizing teams will be asked to manage their event finances locally.
Q: Why will Techstars not be supporting finances moving forward?
A: As part of re-imagining the Techstars Community model, for Techstars Startup Weekend, we believe a self-serve model will help us better meet CLs' needs. We want to give you greater ownership of your event.
Having less reliance on Techstars staff will allow you to manage all your finances in your own way, at your own pace.
We want to give CLs the freedom to decide what to do with their profits, for example, reinvesting into their community.
Since Techstars will not be supporting event finances there will be no accounting support, so we will not be asking you to report your expenses (freeing you from that administrative task!).
Q: What will happen to teams who use Community Chest?
A: We are discontinuing the Community Chest model since Techstars will no longer be providing accounting support for Techstars Startup Weekend events, and organizing teams will manage their event finances locally.
Under the new model, event organizers will manage all of the event profits.
Since Community Chest will not exist under the new model, CLs will no longer have the option to transfer a past event’s remaining Community Chest balance to another Techstars Startup Weekend event.
Events with outstanding Community Chest balances were required to apply for a Community Chest payout before June 22, 2020. (CLs who have balances have received an email with further detail). If you have not received any information from us, please contact email@example.com.
The options for using the remaining Community Chest payout are to put on, or support a local event of your choosing. Whether it is related to Techstars Startup Weekend or not, you are welcome to sponsor an event to support your local entrepreneurial community.
Please reach out to Techstars finance team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about your options.
Q: Will Techstars provide any support for CLs related to best practices for managing the finances for their own event?
A: Legally, Techstars cannot provide financial or legal advice to CLs or community teams, but we’ve general guidelines for managing event finances.
We’ve created resources and best practices for raising and managing sponsorship, as well as event budgets.
Q: The financial transparency and non-profit guarantee previously provided by Techstars was a huge support in attracting sponsors. Will CLs still have this guarantee?
A: No, the financial transparency and non-profit guarantee from Techstars is not part of the new model because we are not in charge of finances and are moving to a self-serve model. CLs will be responsible for transparency of finances and how they are used, whether for profit or non-profit.
The non-profit guarantee provided by Techstars changed in 2015, when we acquired UP Global.
Under the new self-serve model, organizers are in control of their event finances, which is an exciting change. Each event has a different goal and mission based on the local community and each team has a different strategy when it comes to approaching sponsors. If you think that local sponsors would be more interested in supporting a non-profit, your team can now partner with a local non-profit to manage your expenses.
In terms of attracting sponsors, it's also important to note that Techstars recently went through a global company rebrand this year, which will help increase the value and reach of the Techstars brand in all markets and better represent who we are today in all aspects of our business, network and communities. This is also a compelling element for drawing potential sponsors.
We have also created better resources to help support CLs in their endeavour to attract sponsors for their events.
Q. If a team invoices a sponsor for a Startup Weekend event and the named entity on the invoice is not Techstars, it is possible that sponsors may become suspicious. What should event teams share with sponsors about the relationship with Techstars and what they will do with event profits?
A: At Techstars we believe in a culture based on transparency. We advise teams to outline how event sponsorships work, and how their team handles finances. It is important to highlight that each event is part of the Techstars network; a global organization/movement, run in over 160 countries around the world. It will be up to you to responsibly and thoughtfully manage the communication and engagement with your sponsors. With regards to invoicing your sponsors, we suggest that you include on your invoice that the event is a Techstars Startup Weekend or Startup Week, in order to confirm the relationship between Techstars, your organizing team, and your sponsor.
Q: What happens with event profits? Can we keep them, and if so, how do we explain that to sponsors?
A: The new model does offer the potential to keep profits but it is not required to take profit, and taking profit may change the dynamic of your event and relationships with sponsors and the community. It will be up to you to responsibly and thoughtfully manage the communication and engagement if you decide to keep profits, and to use the profits in a manner that aligns with Techstars values.
If you do decide to keep profits, you can use the profits to develop your local community, host other community events, invest the profit in your next Techstars Startup Weekend event or sponsor community led initiatives.
Whatever the case, you must ensure that you are transparent about your finances with your sponsors.
Q: If we get to keep the profits and reinvest them, how does Techstars benefit from these events?
A: Techstars has discontinued the Community Chest model, so we will not be making any revenue directly from events. We envision that global sponsorships similar to Google for Startups and GoDaddy Registry (formerly Neustar/.CO) will continue to be key to our business. In the future we will look to hold specific events in conjunction with our partners, and we would like to be able to work closely with community leaders in these types of situations.
If CLs can keep the profit from their events, isn't this a risk for the culture we've built globally?
It is a risk, but one we feel we can manage, and one that we think is worth pursuing given the benefits that can come with the flexibility for CLs to decide how best to reinvest the profits for their entrepreneurial communities.
As we transition to this new Techstars Community model, we are putting controls in place to ensure that each organizing team fully embraces and embodies the Techstars values.
Not only do we have a vetting process at the application level, we also will closely monitor each organizer's journey.
We strongly stand by our values and the trust the global community puts in us and we will - and have - require bad actors to leave our community. By bringing together the right people who share our cause, we believe that any profit made at an event will be returned to the community and, under this model, in the way that best supports the community under these values. We also believe that the community will help us identify anyone behaving in a way that undermines these values.
(Please note that Techstars has a zero tolerance policy toward discrimination and abuse toward any member of our community. If you are ever in a vulnerable situation, please reach out to email@example.com).
Q: Will the new Techstars Startup Weekend platform have ticketing functionality too? If so, will countries be forced to use it and pay in US Dollars?
A: Yes, the new platform will support ticketing as well as community sites. Because we are customizing the platform to Techstars' needs, it will be used by all countries and tickets will be charged in local currency for each country.
Q: I saw that the financial part will change. How will it work?
A: The new Techstars Community model will give you greater ownership in managing the execution of your event, with less need to rely on Techstars staff. You will have full control over your own event finances, which means that any profit you make from events is yours to keep.
The new model offers the potential to keep profits but it is not required to take profit and taking profit may change the dynamic of your event and relationships with sponsors and the community. It will be up to you to responsibly and thoughtfully manage the communication and engagement if you decide to keep profits, and to use the profits in a manner that aligns with Techstars values.
Techstars will not be supporting any event finances and there will be no accounting support, so we will not be asking you to report your expenses.
You will be able to set up your own events and tailor the event website that we provide, rather than relying on our team to do everything for you.
Techstars have stopped supporting finances for events once we stopped using SWOOP on June 22 2020.
Q: In the new community model, will event organizers be responsible for paying all event expenses, including those not covered by sponsorship funds?
A: Techstars has never covered costs for individual Startup Weekend or Startup Week events. The policy has always been that event organizers are responsible for securing funds through sponsorships and ticket sales. This doesn't change with the new self-serve model. The only change in this respect is that we don't process finances for your events anymore. We encourage event teams to continue to source local sponsorships to support event expenses. The current license agreement outlines specific parameters for who you engage with as sponsors.
Q: In order to manage our finances, do we need to register as a company and file our own taxes for the event regionally?
A:Techstars suggests that you follow the requirements of your own country, as rules vary in each country.
There are two standard options of how to manage your own finances:
Register your own company, file taxes, and manage the whole finance process; or
Alternatively, partner with an existing local entity, who can help you manage the financial process as in #1 above, or will manage that part of the event themselves as part of the partnership agreement. Regardless of who you partner with, if you pursue this option, the partner must also abide by Techstars values.
Techstars is not able to provide finance or legal advice to teams, but we will provide general guidelines into managing finances. These will be forthcoming soon.
Q: If registering locally as an independent organization, do teams need to register a Startup Weekend as a non-profit?
A: How teams approach setting up their entities and the related paperwork, classification and tax filings depends on where they're located. It is important for teams to follow their country's legal systems and financial regulations. Teams may have to set up their own entities, or they may have to work alongside a local non-profit, or for-profit entity. Some countries don't require entities, some others do. Teams may not necessarily need to set up a new entity to organize an event, and may be able to use or partner with an existing entity in their region. Techstars cannot provide specific financial or legal advice, but we can provide general guidelines. We will provide more information on this soon.
Q: Will there be a time when we have to pay for the event platform Techstars provides?
A: As mentioned, the new event platform supports your community website and ticketing. There will be a ticketing fee, similar to how Eventbrite and most other ticketing platforms operate. That fee will go entirely to the event platform service provider and never to Techstars.
Q: Will the rule "organizers cannot be from the same organization" finally be eliminated?
A: No, the rule will not be eliminated. But, we have made exceptions and been flexible about this rule. We will continue to consider any exceptions on a case-by-case basis. We recognize it is inconvenient to some, but we have this rule for a very important reason - to ensure that the intention of the organizing team is to do something for their community, in line with Techstars values.
Having said that, much in line with Techstars' own approach to accelerators and ecosystem development, we believe that there is strength in having organizing teams from varied backgrounds. Having different people from different industries and skill sets, has proven to foster innovation and creativity, which we believe is what it takes to build a strong community.
Q: As CLs and facilitators, how can we report bad actors and negative behavior in our communities?
A: We all share the same values and vision, and we want you to feel safe and comfortable reporting any bad action to us; we also want it to be easy for you. During this interim time frame, Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns around bad actors.
We have As part of the transition plan for the new Techstars Community model, we are thoughtfully considering the best way to identify bad actors in our new community operation model.
Q: What is the current status for event insurance? Are organizing teams liable if something goes wrong during their events?
A: Techstars provides general liability insurance plans for events. We require that each event organizer arranges liability insurance, even if it is not required by law in your locality. Please reach out to email@example.com, or your regional manager if you wish to arrange your insurance with our provider, or alternatively, please arrange your own insurance provider.
Q: What is the protocol for dealing with several teams in the same area now that Techstars is moving to a self-serve model?
A: This issue is certainly not new! As well as working closely with CLs and carefully vetting applications, we’ve added a new tool - a CL licence agreement - which will explain how different groups of CLs should work alongside each other in the same regions. The addition of the licence agreement helps make the process more structured.
All Star CLs
Q: Are you planning to incentivize and recognize top CLs?
A: Yes! We will be rolling out a program to highlight and provide more value to top CLs. We will have more details on this program in late Q3.
Q: When can we begin nominating people for the All Star Community Leader Program?
A: We are still defining the structure of the program and process for nominating All Star CLs, but rest assured that we'll share more information with you as soon as we can. The concept is that community leaders and Techstars staff will be able to nominate other community leaders to be part of the All Star Community Leader Program.
Q: What is the qualifying criteria for the All Star Program?
A: The criteria for entering the All Star Program is holistic. Experience with Techstars Startup programs will certainly be considered when evaluating candidates for the All Star Program, but we believe there are also other aspects to consider. For instance, it's important to evaluate what actions organizers have taken outside of Techstars events to help build their communities. This will provide opportunities to community leaders from smaller cities that don't have as much event activity, but are doing an amazing job contributing to their local ecosystems. The All Star Program is not only about recognizing the volume of events an individual has led, but how much impact they've had in their community.
Q: How will you highlight All Star CLs in the Techstars network?
A: At Techstars we are constantly working to improve the way that we share stories from our community. This includes success stories of companies from our events, to personal stories of a community member's growth. For some community leaders, Startup Weekend is a part of their own entrepreneurial journey, and we'd like to learn more about your involvement with your community. We're eager to spend more time getting to know all of you on a personal level, and we want to make sure you feel connected to the wider Techstars network.
Q: How will the Regional Managers' work be impacted with this change? How are they going to be empowered by Techstars to interact and support local communities and CLs?
A: Our goal with all of these changes is to allow us to free up our Regional Managers' time in order to better engage with organizers, facilitators and digest curators. We want them to have more time to focus on the important aspects of each community as well as each CL, and truly partner on providing the best community support possible. In order to do this, we’ve created new systems that are easier and more efficient to use.
With the introduction of these new processes, we’ve strived to make everything as smooth as possible for you, the users. We want to make sure that as you work with us, we make your journey enjoyable, motivating and powerful.
We want to better provide value to you throughout the year, not just when you are running events with us, which is why we’ve transitioned to a self-serve model - to reduce administrative time and increase the time we spend on relationships and higher-value support.
Q: Will Techstars still control who can organize events?
A: Yes. We will continue to vet all organizers who apply to run any of our programs and stay in close touch with all current CLs and administer events that are planned or in discussion. It is critical to all of us, globally, to ensure we have the right people helping each community in ways that align with the entrepreneurial spirit and Techstars values.
Q: How do you define success for Techstars Startup Weekend at a global level?
A: Number of events was an important factor in the past, mainly because of some of our sponsor agreements. That's not the case anymore. While we do want to continue supporting as many communities as possible and reach more people, we want to prioritize and ensure quality experiences and make sure we engage with the right CLs in each community.
Q: Is the facilitator’s role changing at all?
A: Facilitators are such a huge part of our Techstars community, and we want to expand our support for them. We want to improve the overall experience for facilitators by providing our new facilitator training and resources, as well as offering them more opportunities within our network and professional development opportunities.
Q: Why have Startup Weekend emails been discontinued? Does Techstars have tips on how to transfer contacts/data to other email accounts? Will there be a new tool to help us communicate with our local networks?
A: Part of moving to a new community model that provides greater ownership of events to CLs required us to retire some old technologies and platforms that have been used over the years. City distribution emails (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) will continue to be used since they are aliases linked to ticketing platforms, and not assigned to individual users. It is the individual, accessible email accounts that will be discontinued. Our recommendation is that you access your email account and export or transfer anything important to you. You can use the tool Google Takeout to help you with this process. If you have any more specific questions, please reach out to email@example.com.