Throughout our ecosystem and through our own entrepreneur centers, we often look at and evaluate better ways to usher companies along the life cycle of entrepreneurship. There is a journey that as an entrepreneur, you embark upon that starts with an idea and can take off from there. Our goal is to provide resources, tools, connections, capital, promotion, and overall empowerment to entrepreneurs. But we can only fill so many gaps, and provide certain necessary elements that an entrepreneur needs along this journey.
As we identify entrepreneurial support organizations that exist along the current lifecycle of an entrepreneur, we often look at tools and resources that support an organization from “idea to exit.” Some of the great programs that exist to support early stage entrepreneurs have lived under the UP Global brand. Programs such as Startup Weekend, which provides a jump-start to an idea and a first step into the world of entrepreneurship, and mentor-based program Startup Next which focuses on preparing teams for accelerators or raising seed funding. Key collaborative programs like Startup Digest that connect community members through events and reading lists as well as Startup Week that bring an entire community together to support the growing activity of different ecosystems across the country.
But, after these programs, where does a company go after it is developing customers, starting to launch its product/service, creating revenue for the first time, or seeking additional capital or instruction to get your business to the next level?
Now enter organizations like accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, educational programs, etc. One of the great leaders in this space has been Techstars. Techstars and other funding sources offer the necessary capital, networks, and mentorship platforms for companies to move their business to the next level in that life cycle. These organizations step in and help give organizations a leg up on how to effectively grow their enterprise and by combining the elements of capital, connections, and community, they can give early stage entrepreneurs the formula necessary for that next stage of success.
This is why I think the announcement of Techstars and UP Global joining together illustrates a coming together of different key elements of the entrepreneurial lifecycle. Partnerships like this are one critical component of what the future of entrepreneurial support will look like for entrepreneurs. We need to find groups that compliment each other well to enable early stage entrepreneurs through the stages of growing a business. We need to find groups that share similar missions and alignment of vision to ensure that we are appropriately escorting these young businesses through different business stages and providing a pathway to success.
I am encouraged by this announcement and believe we will see huge dividends for entrepreneurs that exist all along this spectrum. I think that by combining the international community of UP Global’s “nodes” or connectors who have a true volunteer spirit to support their local community along with Techstars proven track record for helping companies create long term and sustainable growth, we will be able to see the type of connectivity that will continue to make entrepreneurship more attractive, attainable and compelling to aspiring entrepreneurs all over the world.
Now, all we need is more venture capitalists, private equity, and commercial banks coming along to support the stage beyond where the new future of Techstars and UP Global provides value.