Being a Techstars Startup Weekend organizer is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it will take hard work, dedication, and a lot of your time. If you’re thinking about organizing a Techstars Startup Weekend, it’s important to make sure you’re ready to make the commitment.
We have a short list of prerequisites to ensure that our organizers maintain a high standard of quality across all events being run worldwide. We want to make sure that all our global participants are provided with the same exceptional experience and value at Techstars Startup Weekend. Please review and agree to our prerequisites below before applying to organize.
01. You must participate in a Techstars Startup Weekend before organizing
You must have fully participated in a team at a previous Startup Weekend. We believe that by fully immersing yourself in the experience, you are better equipped to understand the highs and lows of a Startup Weekend. With that knowledge, you develop the empathy as an organizer to provide that experience to future participants. You can find upcoming Techstars Startup Weekends at startupweekend.org/events.
02. Review the rules and requirements
We’ve created organizer rules and requirements for two key reasons:
Intent: To ensure your goals are aligned with Techstars Startup Weekend’s mission and values.
Success: Our collective knowledge of running successful, impactful events globally and helps you run great community events that offer outstanding value to participants.
03. Understand the commitment
A typical Techstars Startup Weekend takes around 3 months for a team of 4 to 8 people to organize. Your team will be responsible for nearly all aspects of the event. You will raise sponsorship and sell tickets to cover event costs, secure a venue, hire a catering company, and find local mentors, judges, speaker(s) and volunteers. Your team will also promote the event and recruit participants. Review the Startup Weekend organizer checklist for a more detailed timeline view of the work and the Event Team section for detailed responsibilities.
04. Form a team
You cannot do this alone. Committed, thriving teams share the same passion and mission of supporting local entrepreneurs and driving positive change in their communities.
Forming a Team
What matters in a team?
Shared passion and mission
Techstars Startup Weekend organizers usually share a passion for supporting entrepreneurs and bringing their community together. They also share a mission to drive positive change by boosting local economic growth and innovation. The most successful Startup Weekend teams share the same passion and mission.
We find that the most valuable Startup Weekends have participants with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and cultural perspectives. Diversity feeds innovation and leads to a better learning experience for the real-life application of starting a business. A good organizing team should represent the ideal demographics and skill ratio of the participants that they want to attract to the event.
It’s hard work to organize a Startup Weekend. Form a team with those who you trust will see the event through to the end.
In the following video, you can see a brief overview of the main tasks that you’ll need to complete in the three months leading up to your event.
Rules and Requirements
We support thousands of events in countries all around the world, which means we’ve seen nearly every possible scenario. While we want your team to have freedom when running your events, these rules help Techstars to provide a high level of quality and consistency for our events so that your team can provide the greatest value to participants.
All organizers are individuals, not organizations.
You cannot organize a Techstars Startup Weekend on behalf of another organization, group, or institution without specific approval from your Techstars community support contact. We want Startup Weekend to be run by people in grassroots communities who are passionate about building their startups and their local community — not by those who are merely organizing the event as a part of their job.
Techstars Startup Weekends must be organized by a team.
The team should ideally consist of around four to eight members and have a lead organizer. It takes a lot of energy and commitment to create the Techstars Startup Weekend experience, and sharing this workload reduces the pressure on each organizer and ensures success.
Succession planning is vital for community growth and sustainability.
No city should have to rely on the same few people to run Techstars Startup Weekend forever. Part of the role of an organizer is to help cultivate new leaders to ensure your community continues to thrive. Techstars provides guidelines and support for this.
No organizer or team has exclusive rights to run events in a city or community.
Anyone in the community who meets the organizer criteria can run a Startup Weekend. Techstars will facilitate connections between local organizers to help ensure each event’s success.
As an organizer, you are expected to live within, or near, the community in which they plan to hold the event.
As an organizer, we consider you to be a local expert. If you are not local, it can be very difficult to find the right resources and connections. Many benefits from organizing will come from the local relationships you form within your community. Please seek prior approval from your Techstars community support contact should you wish to organize outside your city of residence.
All Techstars Startup Weekend events must follow the standard three-day, weekend-long format.
This is an extensively proven, successful model. If this structure doesn’t fit into the concept for your event, contact us to discuss more options at email@example.com.
All events must be open and accessible to the public.
Techstars exists to create a more sustainable, inclusive, and connected world. We are here to start a movement that makes innovation accessible to everyone, everywhere. We are always open to all. Exceptions require specific approval from your Techstars community support contact (i.e. running an event with a youth vertical).
No legal documentation or contracts of any kind can be signed at the event.
Techstars Startup Weekend aims to deliver experiential education and inspiration without any red tape. Should anyone involved with your event find it necessary, legally binding documents can be dealt with after the event occurs. These types of circumstances should be handled by the appropriate professionals outside and unassociated with your event. Techstars is not responsible and will not get involved in any legal process or action related to intellectual property. Please contact your Techstars community support contact with any questions on this subject.
You may not organize a vertical-focused or themed event without prior authorization from your Techstars community support contact.
If you have never hosted a Startup Weekend in your town or city, you should first hold a non-themed event. This will attract the widest range of participants from a diverse array of backgrounds, and help get the word out about Startup Weekend to many different groups. Once you’ve hosted one event and have spread awareness about Startup Weekend, it should be easier to run a successful event focused on a specific industry. Let us know which vertical you are interested in running in your organizer application form, and we will reach out to discuss further.
All Startup Weekends must have a certified Techstars Startup Weekend facilitator, and associated expenses must be included within the event budget.
Having a Techstars-certified facilitator at your event is one of the key requirements when organizing a Techstars Startup Weekend. They are considered resident Startup Weekend experts and caretakers of the participant experience. The facilitator will emcee the event, support the local organizing team, and make sure that all attendees have a rich, positive experience. Techstars will pair your event with a suitable facilitator and introduce them to your team around two months prior to your event date. Your team is responsible for booking the facilitator's accommodation and travel, and should budget these expenses accordingly.
No Startup Weekend should have more than 125 active participants.
We find that the quality of an event starts to decrease once it reaches more than 125 participants. Too many participants means that there are less resources like mentors available. The job of a facilitator and organizing team are proportionally more difficult the more participants that are involved. Events above capacity can lead to an overload of pitches. This can be quite time-consuming, taking participating teams away from the weekend’s actual work. This does not apply to online events.
Only new ideas should be pitched and worked on at Startup Weekends.
While there are often promising business ideas conceived at Startup Weekends, the event's greatest value to participants is experiential learning when working with others from different backgrounds. There have been instances where preformed ideas are brought to the event by founders only looking for people to help build or validate their predetermined vision. At Startup Weekend, all team members should be starting with equal ownership and the shared ability to shape and change the vision for their team’s startup. When presenting awards to winning teams, it’s only fair that all teams have built their businesses on a level playing field.
All Startup Weekends must give recognition to global partners and local sponsors as stipulated in partner and sponsor agreements.
Without our global partners and local sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to run Startup Weekends and empower millions of people around the world to build startups. It’s important to give them the recognition they deserve to provide value and nurture your relationship with local sponsors.
No cash prizes may be given at a Startup Weekend.
We encourage in-kind prizes like memberships to co-working spaces, grants to attend programs or events, networking or mentoring opportunities, or memberships to services that can be used to grow a business. We disallow cash prizes, as they are often divided amongst team members for personal gain, instead of being used to build their team’s business idea. Our goal at Techstars Startup Weekend is to create impact, and we want prizes to reward participants with opportunity instead of physical goods.
For vertical-themed events, at least one-third of the organizing team should represent the target industry.
Having a team with members who work or do research in the designated sector lets you use the expertise of a specific industry in the local community, and recruit participants and partners involved in that sector. For example, a group of six people applying to organize a Startup Weekend education event should have at least two people with a background in education on their team.
All Techstars Startup Weekend organizers must adhere to our branding rules and guidelines. It is important to maintain the branding rules and guidelines across all promotional, social, and sponsorship outreach materials. This ties together all Startup Weekend events around the world, helps you leverage the Techstars Startup Weekend brand, and reinforce a global standard of quality on a local level. You can find all our branding guidelines for each item within the Techstars Startup Weekend brandfolder.
All Techstars Startup Weekend events must have a dedicated website in order to explain the format and purpose of the event to the public, showcase the event’s mentors, speaker(s), judges, and organizers, and provide proper recognition to the event partners & sponsors.
All Techstars Startup Weekend event websites must contain:
A header/logo that adheres to the Branding & Naming Requirements
The event’s mentors, speakers, and judges
The Techstars Startup Weekend Global Partner information
A section dedicated to online ticketing
Unless otherwise agreed, all organizers must use the website template provided by the Techstars Startup Weekend team. Once your application has been approved you’ll work with your Techstars community support contact to build the page. Having an event website helps participants be able to find event details, and consistent messaging and branding.
Techstars Startup Weekend organizing teams are entirely responsible for funding their events. Financial management and securing sponsorship for the event is 100% the responsibility of the organizing team. Techstars is unable to advance uncollected sponsorship funds or provide loans. For business operations, you may need to establish a separate legal entity and business bank account for this purpose, or use an existing entity. If need be, consult a legal advisor who can donate their time to help guide your business operations. Tax law is different for each country. Organizers are required to check with local government or revenue authorities to make sure that they follow local tax and business laws.
All events must charge for admission
We’ve found that having a small barrier to entry by charging for tickets creates a sense of commitment for your participants, drastically reducing the last-minute cancellation and drop-out rate for your event. Ticket prices should be affordable, allowing for broad, inclusive access to your event.
Techstars Startup Weekend organizing teams are required to honor ticket refund requests up to seven days before the first day of the event. This policy is built into your event management platform where you’ll be managing your ticket sales.
Ready to Apply?
Questions? Please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.