Changes At UP Global

UP Global today announced core team changes to align the organization’s ‘cost to serve’ with available funding, in order to focus its resources on achieving its goals of touching 500K lives, identifying 500 notable startups and supporting 1K thriving entrepreneurial communities.

The reduction of 11 US based staff positions are almost entirely in global support roles at UP Global’s HQ in Seattle. In the past 18 months, UP Global’s team grew from 48 people to 64 people. This growth rate has outpaced what the market could support. As with many non-profit organizations, it remains critical to strike the right balance between team, funding, reach, and impact.

“We’ve been an evolving organization since we were founded.” said Marc Nager, CEO. “Change is in our DNA. Some changes are difficult and this is certainly one of those. We could not have achieved such global impact without the efforts and talents of these amazing team members. We will do all we can to make this a seamless transition for our team, for our community leaders, and for our partners. Despite this being a hard decision, we are confident that this will position us to continue to expand our impact and provide access to entrepreneurship across the globe.”

UP Global’s commitment remains focused—to increase access to entrepreneurship; to make it easier to run events; and to support Community Leaders around the world.

Victoria Schramm Shares: 5 Tips for Making a Great Event

Victoria Schramm, Director of Special Events for UP Global has planned and produced 40+ events for over 16,000 attendees worldwide. These include global, regional, and team summits, as well as high-profile events at Startup Oasis for SXSW and at Eureka Park for CES. Victoria, or V as she is known, recently shared how she puts the “special” in special events.

Startup Oasis attendees at this year's SXSW
Startup Oasis attendees at this year’s SXSW

1. Establish a Central Hub
Select a home-base. This can be as simple as a lounge or lobby or as broad as a city block—a central place where everyone can easily congregate. This is where attendees can gather before, after, or in-between programming for some downtime and discussion. This is where conversations happen and relationships are formed. If you think about the events you’ve attended, often times the conversations you’ve had and the people you’ve met are just as important as the content or guest speakers you enjoyed.

Tip:  Set up an additional private place for your organizing team to congregate. A safe haven allows them to review run-of-show plans, troubleshoot issues, catch up on communications, and to simply recharge.

2. Don’t Overprogram
When you run so many sessions that attendees don’t get any free time, many people lose the ability to form relationships and continue conversations they might have begun during programming.  For example, when you’re doing a fireside chat that is informative and thought-provoking, you’re going to want to give attendees an hour at some point in the day (it doesn’t have to be right away). By scheduling an hour+ of unscheduled time you allow attendees to decompress from the content, to discuss it, and to continue conversations sparked during that session.

3. Make It Fun
Like gaps in programming, fun is another element to incorporate in your planning. You’ll want to ensure attendees have some fun time that is both lightly orchestrated and clearly delineated from content.  These shared experiences are where people come together to get to know each other as well as the community they are in.  For example when V organized an event in Iowa, she hosted a barn party. This included everything from renting the barn, having roasted pig, providing Iowa bourbon, etc. This time allows attendees to truly experience the community, to hang out and have fun. Other examples of programming shared fun are: scavenger hunts, indoor skydiving, museum visits, and geocaching. It helps to do some research ahead of time and to engage local experts in planning the fun so there are elements of local discovery and celebration built into these unique experiences.

4. Get to Know Your Attendees Before They Arrive  
Set up calls with a handful of attendees representing a diverse cross-section of program interests, age, and geography. Get their input on event expectations, content interests, points of value, feedback on previous events, even cool stuff they’ve seen elsewhere. Do your homework so you can create something they will find valuable. Once in registration questions: V asked “let us know if you have an suggestions or ideas for this summit”  One respondent said she loved all the Coke products, but really preferred Diet Dr. Pepper.  V took note of that and in prep for the event procured some Diet Dr. Pepper and supplied it through the event. Those little things make a difference.

5. Surprise and Delight
The details really do matter.  The little things can make the difference between a good event and a great one. Things like sliding a custom reminder notes under doors at night for the next day’s activities as V did at the UP Summit in Las Vegas, or sourcing goody bags and leaving them on the on guests’ beds each night. Those things make such a difference and really change the atmosphere of an event.


Dallas Startup Week Preview: 16 Texas Style Tracks

The Dallas Startup Week team has put together a dynamic range of entrepreneurial programming that kicks-off next Monday, March 2nd. The events start with A VC, an Angel and an Entrepreneur Walk into a Bar. Seriously!


Local track captains have created events organized along 16 topical tracks. The focus varies from traditional strengths like Commercial Real Estate, Fashion, Food, and Travel to emerging emphasis on Medtech, and Education. There are also core sessions on Business, Funding, and Mentor Hours. I’m especially intrigued by the non-traditional tracks Pop Up Shop and The Kaleidoscope for Her. 

Here’s how my sched is shaping up. You can build your own by registering here.

Pop Up Shop
What an cool way for the community to experience and support local small businesses. From Wednesday to Friday, there will be something new in store, including jewelry, eco-friendly fashions, and white board magnets.

House of Genius and Ignite on the same day! This is a smart way to infuse creativity and join communities of like-minded individuals. The Ignite session will be Kicked off by Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Fort Work
Dallas is transforming a coworking space into a play/party space. I’m calling it FortPlay.

Chase Basecamp
I start every day at #ChaseBaseCamp, the hub for Dallas Startup Week. Please stop by and say hello!

For more information, check out Dallas Startup Week
Join us on twitter:  #DSW15  #ChaseBaseCamp

Preview: Phoenix Startup Week

Think about it.

What activity can you engage in that offers upwards of 24 great options every day? An amusement park? A candy store? A hike in the woods? Surfing? SXSW?

Got your short list?

Now ask yourself, “How many of these options are mind expanding, network growing, skill-building, and fun?” Your list just got shorter, didn’t it?* The Phoenix startup community has created a rich programming slate of 130 events, which pencils out to more than 24 original options for each of the five days.

Phoenix Startup Week, Startup Week

Phoenix Startup Week is as deep as it is broad. Expert speakers like Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Camacho, Infusionsoft Chief Marketing Officer Greg Head, and longtime Valley entrepreneur Don Pierson will be participating.

The events occur on 13 tracks, to help you browse by interests.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 3.40.26 PM

I’ll be starting each day at #ChaseBaseCamp, the hub of activity at five different locations throughout the week. From there, I’ll be checking out these events. You can get your own sched going here.

The kick-off with Mayor Stanton will get momentum going early.
After that, I may go with a startups by the numbers approach:  The perfect TenThe five C’s of credit, The Five Red Flags of Startups, and Twitter 101.

Tuesday I’m focusing on keeping my edge: Surviving and Thriving in Entrepreneurship,
What Elite Athletes Teach us About Team Work, and The Value of Passion & Determination.

Here’s the cure for tunnel vision. Time to let imagination run wild: John Lennon Educational Bus Tour, How Products are Imagined, Built, and Launched, Work/Life Balance – Unicorn or Reality?

Crucial for any startup is getting a better handle on fundraising options: How Does the Angel Investment Process Really Work?How to Start on a Shoestring.

I’m wrapping up the week with multiple perspectives on the Phoenix startup scene. From the up close and personal, Sex, Love & Startups, to the big picture, How Arizona Became a Hotbed for Startups, and Fostering a Successful Startup Ecosystem.

Full disclosure: I’m hosting the Ecosystem discussion. Send any questions you’d like me to ask @DBetzCreative.

So that’s my sched. Which events would you chose?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
#PHXStartupWeek    #YesPHX

Like #PHXStartupWeek on Facebook

*If SXSW or Burning Man were still on your short list, ask yourself, “How many of these remaining options are free?”


Blackstone Charitable Foundation Announces 2015 Grants

UP Global is fortunate once again to have received the backing of The Blackstone Charitable Trust. This year’s Annual Innovation Grant Program awards $3M to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 12.18.41 PM

It’s an honor to be recognized as one of 20 “game changing” organizations. In addition to vital partner support, our organization could not accomplish any magnitude of change without the passion and energy of our communities, their leaders, and the entrepreneurs we serve.

This 200K grant from The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will allow UP Global to continue to provide access to entrepreneurship for people through ecosystems that bridge geographies, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds.

More about the grants: 


Tampa Bay Startup Week: 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Nicholas Karnaze was on stage at Chase Basecamp yesterday. He’s running the startup Stubble & ‘Stache. In addition to a brilliant product origin story full of humorous observations, Nicholas also shared some hard-won wisdom from his entrepreneurial journey.

IMG_7201Nicholas Karnaze, founder of Stubble & ‘Stache with Matt Helt, program director for UP Global at Chase Basecamp during Tampa Bay Startup Week.

Here are the five biggest things Nicholas has learned firsthand.

1. Find Your Purpose
What is it that will get you up early every day? What is it that will send you to peaks and sustain you in valleys? What will help you keep your focus?  According to Nicholas it was finding his purpose that has led to success.

2. Things Will Always Take Longer Than You Think
Don’t underestimate the time it will take to get stuff done. This includes everything from getting product formulation right, distribution, packaging, and developing supplier partnerships.

3. Carefully Vet Your Partners
This is important even if your partners are friends. A business relationship is different than a friendship. Starting a company will test you and your key relationships in ways that you can’t imagine. 

4. Clarify Roles & Responsibilities
Once again, this is especially important if they are friends. Agreeing up front about who owns what and how decisions are made can greatly reduce ambiguity and friction down the road.

5. Get your story straight
It’s the thing that people will engage with. It’s the thing that will help you rise above the clutter.

This inspiring talk was from the Veteran’s track. There are more than 70 programs across eight tracks happening this week at Tampa Bay Startup Week. You can follow along on facebook, twitter, instagram,

#TBStartupWeek  #emerging

Preview: Tampa Bay Startup Week

There is much to discover and celebrate next week in Tampa!

I’ll be reporting from Tampa Bay Startup Week alongside John Cook from Geekwire, UP Global colleagues Marc NagerAndrew Hyde, Dave Parker, and a fantastic Tampa Bay team including Ryan Sullivan, Gregg Hilferding, Gracie Leigh Stemmer.

Tampa Bay Startup Week, Startup Week

The Tampa Bay startup community has prepared 5 full days of dynamic program tracks running at a range of nearby venues. You can get the unique Tampa Bay take on themes and verticals that are popular across the country like: Maker, Education, Veterans, Youth, and Social Impact. These tracks are complimented with tactical hands-on sessions run by community experts focused on Entrepreneurial Foundation and Coding.

Whether you want to find out more about the Tampa startup community, meet like-minded people, brush up on skills, listen to insightful fireside chats, or get some sage advice—you can design it all into your Tampa Bay Startup Week

If you want to take a break and recharge or get a feel for what’s happening on any given day, #ChaseBasecamp is your hub for the week. That’s where I’ll start planning each of my days. Here are just a few of the cool events already on my sched:

I’m a history buff, especially when visiting a city for the first time. I’m attending Plant and Ybor: Tampa’s Early Entrepreneurs and then the Ybor Walking Tour on Monday.  Tampa has been starting industries since the 1830’s. I’m interested to see how culture and entrepreneurship have combined historically.

Top things investors in the Tampa Bay area are looking for in new startups. Could be more proof that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley or NYC for access to startup funding.

Playable City: Design your city.
Street art, urban design and food trucks. Outside—in February!

Craft Brew Entrepreneurs: Home brew testing and feedback.
Best. Mentoring. Gig. Ever.
I might slip out early for Playable City: Why Play?

Key traits of a fashion entrepreneur.  I want to see what’s happening in between the style hubs of NYC and Miami.

So that’s where I’ll be when I’m not at the parties, movie screenings, and other social events, capped off with an open skate party at Amalie Arena on Friday!

Even if you can’t be there in person you can follow along on facebook, twitter, instagram, and the Tampa Bay Startup Week event blog.

If you are part of the Tampa Bay community, now’s the time sign up. (I’m wait listed as some events are already full.)  I hope you can stop by #chasebasecamp and say hello to the amazing Chase and Tampa Bay teams that made this all possible.

#emerging   @startuptampa   #TBStartupWeek  Powered by Chase





Transcending Boundaries. The 2014 Global Startup Battle

The 2014 Global Startup Battle shattered records for all aspects of participation. We saw more than 25,000 participants creating amazing things in 250 communities around the world. Not only did #GSB2014 transcend all previous benchmarks, it also transcended a host of other boundaries.

The round-up:

Generation Startup. – GSB participant ages ranged from a 77 year old woman in Spain to a group of 13-year-olds from Denver.

Global Startup battle, Startup Weekend, UP Global

What unites us is far greater than what divides us. – A St. Louis-area entrepreneur and winner of Startup Weekend responded to the recent tragic events in Ferguson — and developed an app to help organizations diversify.

Global Startup Battle, GSB, UP Global, Startup Weekend

Doing what politics has been unable to do. – The Startup Weekend Armenia-Turkey not only spread entrepreneurial education in the region, it also bridged the diplomacy gap between the two countries.

Standing room only. – 900 people showed up on Friday night for the Shenzen, China Mega Startup Weekend. Even though there were only 150 participant tickets, the community was undaunted. 1,000 returned to watch the Sunday night presentations.

Global Startup Battle, Startup Weekend, UP Global, GSB

Rethinking the supply chain. – Startup Weekend team, EntoBento, replaces traditional meat found in dog treats with mealworm flour. Mealworms contain more protein than chicken or fish and twice the calcium of most meats, and only require 10 gallons of water per pound of production versus 1,700 gallons of water for typical dog food.

UP Global, Startup Weekend, Global Startup Battle

A first ever Startup Weekend for Bali. – “Will they be the next big thing? Time will only tell. We certainly had no shortage of enthusiasm and energy this weekend. It was really magical. I’d say, expect big things to come out of Bali in the coming years!” – Peter Wall

UP Global, Startup Weekend, Global Startup Battle


While some of these transcendent efforts were intentional, the rest occurred as byproducts of GSB activity. Together, they underscore the true power of community to push limits and reimagine boundaries.

Congratulations again to all the organizers, facilitators, partners, mentors, and teams. We can’t wait to see what great community achievements will unfold in 2015!


How a Teammate's Challenge Got a Seattle Startup Into a Top Accelerator


        “I’m all in. Can you quit your job too?”

Arry Yu couldn’t believe the challenge from Stuart Owen, a teammate she met only two weeks earlier at Startup Weekend Seattle.

“What!? Are you serious?” she asked.

The challenge was real. Owen was all in, having just scrapped his own startup endeavor.

Yu didn’t have to think very long about her job with Logic 20/20.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll quit my job. Here you go—technical cofounder. Bam!
And as simple as B–A–M, GiftStarter was transformed from a cool idea into a serious startup.

Yu knew she was on to something after pitching her idea (she wasn’t planning on it), finding a team (the team found her), and winning a Startup Weekend in late March 2014 (the Sunday-night demo was a hit). She realized that the team and the momentum she had achieved were rare in any endeavor, including startups. She described the decision to go all in as “really a no- brainer.” When you hear this from an overachieving Cornell graduate and former management consultant with enterprise clients like Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and T-Mobile – you appreciate that the phrase “no-brainer” is not used lightly.

Growing up in upstate New York, Yu had every intention of pursuing a career at an investment bank on Wall Street. But early on she was exposed to entrepreneurship by watching her mother start several small businesses. Yu’s formative years also included stints as an artist, musician, furniture maker, and waitress. Her most recent “real jobs” were with Microsoft and management consulting firms while she dabbled in startup ideas on the side. Listening to her recount these experiences, I begin to see that her savvy mix of artistic sensibility, determination, and intelligence is better suited for a startup than for Wall Street.

We’re chatting over coffee in a conference room high above downtown Seattle at SURF Incubator and 9Mile Labs on a cloudy Seattle morning. Yu is previewing GiftStarter with me while describing the human and emotional touches that are missing from most digital gift giving.

“We are a very human-centric company. It has to be emotional,” she says, unveiling a beautifully personalized print piece that precedes every GiftStarter gift delivery. I see—and feel—what she means.

Arry Yu describing an elegant print piece that precedes every GiftStarter delivery.

It wasn’t always so clear. What started out as a “Kickstarter for gifts” in March proceeded into the Startup Next program (a benefit of winning a Startup Weekend.) There it  “pivoted several times a week—and came out as a slightly different company. But with more tough muscles— and with the realization of how quick we have to move and how to do customer validation. That DNA was drilled into us and remains with us today.”

 “They were like, ‘Let’s see how you hustle!’”

While Startup Next provided great training, the application process for 9Mile Labs’ accelerator upped the level of rigor and effort. “Over July Fourth weekend—on Wednesday—they said, ‘You need to interview to six brands that are retailers and then 10 customers and report back on Tuesday’ We were like, ‘It’s Fourth of July weekend!’ They were like, ‘Let’s see how you hustle!’”

I got the impression that hustle and success haven’t been much of a problem for Yu and her growing team. They went on to be accepted into 9Mile where they just completed their November Demo Day.

GiftStarter is one of 10 startups in the recent accelerator program at 9Mile Labs.

Like most accelerator teams in coworking spaces, the GiftStarter team is huddled around a few small tables, with computer screens, whiteboards, and Post-it walls taking up almost every inch of real estate. However, it’s clear the clutter doesn’t take anyone away from focusing on the product, the experience, and the customer.

Co-founders Arry Yu and Stuart Owen at 9Mile Labs, Fall 2014.

GiftStarter seems to have gotten it right without losing the spark of that Sunday night pitch back in March—or at least their partner roster would indicate as much. It takes Yu, Owen, and GiftStarter’s partner lead Roy Shin an average of 15 minutes to close after making initial presentations.

Rounding out the rest of her company profile I ask Yu which vertical they operate in. “We are a meta market maker,” she responds. I take this to mean that she intends to create a unique market of gifting across verticals. “I suppose you could call us a social commerce enabler,” she adds. Her response makes it clear to me that Yu is truly an entrepreneur. Nothing is ever boring to her, and no category is beyond being busted.

Check out GiftStarter’s new gifting experience here——just in time for the holidays.

Arry Yu: CEO and co-founder
Stuart Owen: Tech lead and co-founder
Christie Gettler: Design lead and co-founder
Roy Shin: Partner lead
Chris Cashion: Product lead
Damon Gjording: VP of Marketing
John Peck: Engineering


Time line:

  • Startup Weekend: March 21–24, 2014
  • Startup Next: April, 2014
  • Idea to MVE (minimum viable experience): 100 days
  • 9Mile Labs: August 1–November 20, 2014

Jobs created: 7
Products shipped: 100 gifts (with virtually no marketing beyond friends and family)
Average gift size $350
Revenue: $18,000
Customer statistic: 20% of people who pitch in for a GiftStarter gift become GiftStarters for the next group gift

Brand partners signed up: 9, including:

Funding secured: 35k pre-seed money from 9Mile Labs
Fund-raising in progress as of this writing.
Industry: Social commerce enabler, aka meta market maker
City: Seattle
Country: USA
Platform:  Python and Google app. engine. (back end); Stripe payment processor (which makes Yu’s developers very happy).



The Notable Startup series highlights entrepreneurs who’ve started-up with help from an UP Global program.



Six Reasons Why Now is a Good Time to be an Entrepreneur

Startup weekend, up global, global startup battle

As the entrepreneurship movement continues to gain momentum, the second half of November shifts into high gear with a variety of ways to celebrate and get involved at the global, national, or local level.

Here is a roundup of what’s happening:

Nov 14–16 and Nov 21–23

Global Startup Battle (GSB) is a celebration of innovation that gives individuals, ideas, teams, and cities a unique chance at startup success on a global stage.

Since its debut in 2011 the UP Global program has continued to scale. This year, GSB will engage 25,000 people from more than 250 cities around the world. Occurring on either end of Global Entrepreneurship Week GSB features a range of interest tracks and prizes.


November 17–23

Started by the Kauffman Foundation, Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare.

Begun in 2007 with 18 host countries it has grown to over 140 countries today.


November, 2014

President Barack Obama Proclaimed November as National Entrepreneurship Month saying: “Across our Nation, in laboratories and around kitchen tables, passionate and creative entrepreneurs are developing new sources of clean energy, cures for life-threatening diseases, and inventions that will transform the way we see the world.  America has always been a country of risk takers and dreamers—where anyone who is willing to work hard can turn a good idea into a thriving business—and our spirit of ingenuity remains a powerful engine of growth, creating jobs and bolstering our economy.”


November 18th

As part of President Obama’s proclamation, National Entrepreneurs’ Day celebrates the entrepreneurs who are the foundation of the country. House Resolution 401 aims to make the third Tuesday of every November National Entrepreneurs’ Day. They hope to have a bipartisan Senate resolution introduced this year. If the Senate and House both approve resolutions, it will become an official U.S. holiday


November 19–21

Started in 2009 by President Barack Obama, GES 2014 will bring together over 3,000 entrepreneurs, heads of state, high level government officials, global entrepreneurs, SMEs and corporate leaders.


November 14–21

A week-long series of events around the city to celebrate our tech community and startup ecosystem.


Whether it’s supporting an initiative, following on twitter, attending an event, or starting a company, there are plenty of ways to get involved and celebrate.