Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

1. We got 10 CEOs to tell us their one killer interview question for new hires

By Jason Karaian

Digest: Leadership & Resiliency
Curator: Sarah Jane Coffey

Not only are these pretty great interview questions, several of them would also work as journaling prompts. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bQmvPL


2. Fintech is Just Getting Started

By Alan Carlisle

Digest: FinTech
Curator: Camron Miraftab

Driven by the desire to revamp or obviate the need for banking legacy systems, the fintech industry has risen to prominence. This article provides a nice summary of a number of service-offerings by banks that may be disrupted in the near future by fintech companies. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bQlPoT


3. Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship Series

By Kauffman Foundation

Digest: Startup Communities
Curators: Julian Miller, Brad Feld, Shane Reiser

The numbers are in and for the first time in the last 6 years entrepreneurship in the form of “Main Street” small businesses is on the rise, ultimately making startup communities more robust ecosystems. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bQoE_j


4. Full Color 3D Printing using Paper

By YouTube, electrictv

Digest: 3D Printing
Curator: Dilanka Wettewa

Did you know you can 3D Print in FULL COLOR using paper? The MCOR Full Color Printer does just that. If you touch these prints, they feel like hard plastic (I’ve experienced this in real life) and the detail is pretty damn cool. The only downside is that the MCOR printers costs a lot more than regular old desktop 3D Printers! Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bQmSsb


5. Sephora Accelerate – Supporting female founders of beauty start-ups

By Sephora Accelerate

Digest: Women Entrepreneurship
Curators: Babs Lee, Lilibeth Gangas

Sephora is looking for beauty startups founded by women for Sephora Accelerate, a startup bootcamp with a focus on the beauty industry. Startups that are selected to be part of the program may have a chance to pitch their products or technology directly to senior leaders from Sephora’s Merchandising and Innovation teams as part of the Demo Day. Criteria and application is at the link. Read More

More from this reading list: http://eepurl.com/bQobEn


Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.

From Early Stage to Scale: The Power of Strategic Partnerships


Recently, we announced our new partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs and our commitment to building a presence in over 1,000 cities in the next three years. As we prepare to double our impact alongside an incredibly influential, global organization, we also consider where we’ve come from and the people who made our early journey possible. In partnering with Google for Entrepreneurs, we are also graduating from our first major supporter – The Kauffman Foundation.

The people at Kauffman believed in our vision from day one in 2009, even when our organization consisted mostly of ideas and goals. Walking in to pitch at Kauffman, we knew it would take a huge leap of faith on their part to listen to a three person team talk about creating entrepreneurs around the world. Luckily, they took a chance on us and our vision, and with their considerable financial support, we not only survived our early days, but surpassed our original goal of reaching 400+ cities in three years. Since then, our team has also grown from three to 47 employees with multiple offices around the world.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 7.33.38 AM
Content from the first pitch deck that we presented to Kauffman.

“Our founder, Ewing Kauffman, challenged us to be daring, to take calculated risks, and to base our decisions in experience and research,” says Thom Ruhe, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. “Having nurtured and funded Startup Weekend’s growth at such a critical time, getting it through the tough times to now being sustainable, is what the Kauffman Foundation is about. We are privileged to have the opportunity to identify organizations like Startup Weekend to support, continuing Mr. Kauffman’s legacy of entrepreneurial philanthropy.”

I remember the day I first pitched at Kauffman back in 2009; I was challenged with the question: “How will you be sustainable after our grant period?” This question is important and easy to ignore when you’re focused on securing funding or grant support. Remember, partner agreements tend to be finite, and companies should plan accordingly. So while we had just secured a grant, part of that agreement involved dictating what would happen after the grant ended. This may sound harsh, but in reality, it’s critical. I believe that every foundation should maintain some sort of three year investment strategy with new grantees. It challenges the organization to plan with a great level of discipline and focus on sustainable revenue models. In this light, hitting goals and growing are milestones, but every day you take a step closer to the milestone that marks the end of that type of partner relationship. Ultimately, this stipulation forced us to always be looking ahead and planning for sustainability.

One of the greatest challenges for a rapidly growing non profit is finding a balance between the increase in activity and the overhead costs associated with this growth. One of the more significant unexpected costs we didn’t plan for is talent. People are important, and they cost money – salaries, benefits, committed overhead for the team. As you grow, so does every single one of your expenses. Everything from office space, to benefits, to the incredible time investments to ensure everyone is communicating with one another and aligned in their day to day actions. As you achieve your original goals, you inevitably outgrow your original operating costs in a big way. This reality calls for expanded partnership that can accommodate the needs of a mid-size company as opposed to an early-stage startup. As we faced rapid growth, we realized that we were outgrowing our initial partnership, and we would have to find a commitment that could support the increase in our activity. Google for Entrepreneurs, an organization that has always supported our cause, stepped up to take on our next set of challenges with us.

The Kauffman Foundation has always been one of our biggest supporters, and they truly are a part of the UP family. Without support from the Kauffman Foundation, we would not have reached the scaling phase we find ourselves in today. We realize how rare it is for a company to get to this point. It takes a great amount of faith in an early stage company and team with audacious goals. We know some of those goals may have seemed unachievable to others, but Kauffman shared our vision and was there to compliment us where we had gaps – capital and relationships – in the early days.

We are fortunate to be able to look back on our roots and early days with gratitude, knowing that a new partnership was a necessary part of the long-term goals that Kauffman established with us. Like a savvy early-stage investor, they knew they were our working capital as we found product-market fit. Today, we are fortunate to have partners ready to fund our progress as we scale – and we remember our crucial partners who got us off the ground.


Want to become a part of our next milestone? Get involved with UP programs in your area