How to create a global startup community around IT content: the history of Techstars Startup Digest

    Entrepreneurs and IT professionals are always looking for new opportunities to grow their business and increase knowledge. One of the ways is to attend thematic events. In addition to reports, such meetings can be expected to develop with colleagues, exchange experiences and communicate with potential investors.

    Every year in Moscow alone they organize several hundred events related in one way or another to IT. To optimize your time and expenses, it is important to choose the best, most useful and affordable ones. The search problem can be solved, in particular, by Techstars Startup Digest - email-distribution of thematic and low-cost events for startups and everyone connected with IT.
    “I planned to go abroad for 6 months to visit Beijing and Shanghai and look at start-ups in these cities, but I had no idea where to start. The digest helped me a lot - the first thing I did before the trip was to subscribe to the newsletter and contact the curators in these cities, ”- Quora resident Kevin Xu, comment dated January 8, 2011
    At the moment, the number of subscribers of the digest is about 1 million people in more than 300 cities around the world. Today I will talk about how this project appeared, what it was like in the early stages of development and what is happening with it right now.

    Photo: m1try / hakaton Launch48 Weekend 2013

    The project consists of two parts:

    • Selection of events by city from local curators. They include events for developers, designers, marketers and anyone who is interested in the topic of IT start-ups.
    • Selection of thematic content . They are distributed by topic and include articles and guides selected by the curators. Here you can find collections for fintech, blockchain technologies, design, AI systems and other areas (there are 41 in total).

    Selection of events is formed by the efforts of the curators - in each city Startup Digest lead those who are well acquainted with the local IT community, is an expert in a particular topic or runs a business. For example, in Amsterdam digest engaged Riccardo Arista ( of Riccardo Osti ). Before becoming an entrepreneur, he was a marketing specialist. Now Riccardo is working on an analytical startup and is devoting time for a local digest.

    Startup Digest does not pay for the work of curators. This is a volunteer activity. Back in 2011, one of the curators, who was responsible for the selection of events in Miami, wrote : “This is a reasonable quid pro quo. I use the SD infrastructure to help the local community and try to increase the value of this infrastructure with my work. Frankly, for me, communication and interaction with colleagues more than compensate for these efforts. ”

    Screenshot of the site:

    It is interesting that anyone can offer their own event (or article) - there is a special form for this on the project site . The curator of this or that compilation considers applications for compliance with the editors of the community and decides whether it will get on the list or not.

    At the moment, the Techstars Startup Digest community consists of 700 curators, but the history of the project began with much more modest indicators. Further - more about it.

    How it all began

    The first curator of Startup Digest was its founder - Chris McCann ( by Chris McCan ). In November 2009, he sent his friends the first email with a selection of events for startups.

    To become a mailing list, it was enough to write directly to Chris or his partner Brendan (Brendan McManus). At that time, the startup did not have its own website - the founders simply did not see any need for it in the early stages of the project’s development. Only after expanding to other cities - when the idea of ​​a curator model, according to which Startup Digest still works, arose - was it decided to launch The first version of the site was quite primitive - a simple form with a request to leave your email.

    Then, in 2010, journalists from TechCrunch simply refused to release a note about the project before it was “revived” and rolled out at least on WordPress or MediaTemple. Of course, all this was done, and hosting and sending letters to subscribers for a long time remained the only expenses (on average, according to the founders, the project took up to $ 1,000 a month). A startup earned its main money by selling advertising opportunities (banners and text materials) to those who were interested in the IT audience.

    What happened next

    2011: first investment

    In March 2011, a startup received funding in the amount of 200 thousand dollars from the Kauffman Foundation (The Kauffman Foundation). This is a non-profit organization founded by Ewing Marion Kaufman in the mid-60s. Today, it is one of the largest privately owned funds in the United States with a total asset base of almost $ 2 billion.

    200 thousand, it was decided to spend on:

    • hiring a managing editor to work with content;
    • expansion of the project’s presence in more cities;
    • production of educational videos for entrepreneurs.

    At this time, the subscriber base already consisted of more than 120 thousand people in 50 cities and continued to grow. The core subscribers were the founders of technology companies, investors, business angels, and IT professionals.

    2012: part of the Startup Weekend community

    On October 3, 2012, Startup Digest bought Startup Weekend, an organization that holds 54-hour hackathons for IT startups around the world. The amount of this transaction has not been disclosed.

    The parties agreed that the digest will become a “non-commercial” part of Startup Weekend and will serve as an “engine” for the dissemination of information about events for IT specialists. On the other hand, the Startup Digest should have a wider reach.

    “Our short-term goal is to spread the digest. He is now led in 99 cities, while Startup Weekend is present in 335. We would like to change this situation due to the infrastructure we already have, ” said Startup Weekend marketing director Joey Pomerenke in a comment for TechCrunch.

    At this point, the digest already existed in 43 countries, and the subscriber base was 230 thousand people. Co-founder (Brendan) and the chief editor decided not to leave the team, and the second founder (Chris) and the technical director of the project went to make a new product - GroupTie. It was aimed at corporate audiences, solving organizational problems and managing employee interaction. Chris engaged them immediately after the completion of the transaction.

    2013: merging with UP Global and Startup America

    In January 2011, when Startup Digest was just beginning to develop rapidly and attracted its first investments, they launched the Startup America program in the USA. And with it - Startup America Partnership, a union of foundations, corporations and universities, designed to support startups across the country. During the 2.5 years of its existence such startups have accumulated more than 13 thousand.

    In May 2013, Startup America Partnership and Startup Weekend decided to create UP Global, a joint organization that could become a more effective mechanism for supporting technology entrepreneurs. UP Global includes Startup Weekend and Startup Digest.

    The organization has committed within three years to train and support 500 thousand entrepreneurs in a thousand cities in the country. Partners of UP Global are Google and Microsoft.

    2015: new life with Techstars

    In June 2015, Techstars decided to acquire all of UP Global, including Startup Weekend and Startup Digest. By this time, UP Global was present in 600 cities in 120 countries, and Techstars had more than 18 acceleration programs for startups around the world. For all the time they were more than 1,000 companies, attracted more than $ 4 billion in investments.

    Photo: Alec Perkins / One of the Techstars events, on the stage is David Cohen, founder of the project.

    The goal of a takeover is to make IT entrepreneurship more accessible to people around the world through the integrated Techstars infrastructure. “I think the most inspiring thing in this whole story is that people, having achieved success, do not leave even our ecosystem and become investors and mentors of IT start-ups themselves. This is an effective process that we believe will have a long-term impact on technology entrepreneurship in general, ”David Cohen, founder of Techstars.

    In Russia, Startup Digest is present in three cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. In the capital, digestWith a selection of events for IT professionals and entrepreneurs, we began to prepare in December 2012. During this time, more than 125 mailings have been released, and now we publish them weekly, taking into account what might be interesting, including the Habr community.

    As a continuation of the story in a less historical manner, in the following materials we will talk about the direct experience of running Techstars Startup Digest in Moscow. We share knowledge and life hacks that can be useful to participants and organizers of IT events.

    You can view the calendar of events and subscribe to the newsletter in Moscow here (a recent example of the newsletter ). If you know about cool (and affordable) events for IT professionals and entrepreneurs, you can add them for consideration here (registration is required) or tell about them in a comment to this material - it is much more convenient.

    Sharing experience: of The History of the SXSW: How It the All the Started TechStars the Startup Digest: the From the Launch to the Today How the The Early Success Stories Shaped the Modern State of the Tech Industry Podcast. How does IT outsourcing work ? Why do companies need an English-language blog on Habré Stamina - quality that you can’t do without ? Not my job in editorial business What do you have in this office? What is there on Habré: now “✚” and “-” go a whole month Archetypes: why writer's block stories work : outsourcing content is not fair! Video: content is not about SEO, clicks and transitions Case: avtogeiki, Fintech and content marketing, or why the insurer is outsourced to IT-editors

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