Techstars + UP Global: New Startup Opportunities Worldwide

    The TechStars accelerator has taken over the UP Global structure, including its Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Next and Startup Digest programs.

    TechStars, one of the leading accelerators in the United States, acquired UP Global, a nonprofit structure working in the field of training entrepreneurs, in an attempt to cover all stages of creating a business from an idea to an IPO.

    “Together we will help accelerate the pace of innovative development by supporting entrepreneurs in the initial stages, providing better opportunities in the startup community, and helping to shape the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the world.”


    From its earliest days, Startup Weekend has been closely associated with TechStars. Andrew Hyde registered Startup Weekend in 2007, and the first Startup Weekend events were held with Teams from TechStars. After some time, Startup Weekend and its entrepreneurial community took shape in a structure called UP Global, becoming a non-profit project, then other programs were launched - Startup Digest and Startup Next (now these programs are TechStars pride). The UP Global project came into being from the TechStars cellars in Seattle, and since the summer of 2014, the companies have again divided offices at Startup Hall.

    The Seattle-based nonprofit is now known as the parent company overseeing Startup Weekend events: 54-hour sprints held in cities around the world where people share their ideas, form teams and think up new business plans. . UP Global also hosts the Startup Digest online newsletter and other educational and networking events for aspiring entrepreneurs and those just interested.

    David Cohen, managing partner and co-founder of TechStars, said in an interview: “TechStars, since 2006, has been building the world's first truly global entrepreneurial ecosystem. Startup Weekend and other UP Global programs did an amazing job: they inspired and educated entrepreneurs around the world, provided the most promising companies with venture capital. In a word, they strongly influenced the economy. ”

    Regardless of how both projects worked before the merger, they share a common mission: to introduce as many people as possible from all over the world to entrepreneurship. TechStars and UP Global have come to this goal in different ways, but over the past 7 years, both organizations have been working to improve the global state of entrepreneurship by introducing a new way of thinking (“give back, then get something in return”) and focus on learning through experience .

    Now TechStars can offer a whole set of programs that fully matches the Entrepreneur's Journey model and connect two of the world's largest startup ecosystems.

    Mark Niger, CEO of UP Global, and now Chief Community Officer (CCO) at TechStars: “Together we created programs and resources for every step of the Entrepreneur’s Path: from accelerators that focus on the early stages of development of startup communities, to "Entrepreneurs looking for formal opportunities to give projects knowledge, mentoring support, financing, and more."

    David Cohen believes that if we talk about all stages of the Entrepreneur’s Path from idea to IPO, then UP Global is focused on inspiration and education. But in order to grow, businesses also need capital, and given that the amount that TechStars operates currently reaches $ 300 million, the company will continue to provide assistance to the most promising start-ups, which, in the long run, will provide investments with the most long-term economic effect.

    As a result of the merger, a global ecosystem may emerge from all the leaders, founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners, who will now work together harder to support entrepreneurs and their communities.

    What's next?

    The Google For Entrepreneurs project will continue to partner with TechStars to support Startup Weekend and Startup Next. Moreover, from now on, the fees associated with Startup Next, the former UP Global pre-acceleration program, will be canceled - this will allow more entrepreneurs to take this opportunity to expand their business.

    When merged, TechStars will not receive any preferences regarding the redirection of the flow of transactions to its "native" acceleration programs. No major changes are planned in Startup Weekend or other UP Global-led programs, which will now be called TechStars Community Programs.

    Big plans

    This year only:

    Startup Digest curators will send more than 20 million letters about events in the startup world.

    The number of visitors to all 75 Startup Week events will reach nearly 75,000.

    Startup Weekend will oversee over 1,000 events in more than 120 countries, including Iran and Syria.

    Startup Next will support teams that have submitted applications for admission to the acceleration program in 50 cities.

    Techstars and the Global Accelerator Network will provide investment and intensive mentoring to more than a thousand companies.

    TechStars Ventures (with a capital of $ 300 million) will provide options for pre-seed and seed financing.

    Save UP Global

    The transaction was not without difficulties: UP Global is a non-profit structure, and TechStars is a commercial company. As part of the deal, UP Global and its programs will become part of TechStars' business.

    However, the leaders of both organizations argue that UP Global did not threaten closure, even if it had not been acquired. However, the company still faces challenges as the startup industry develops. A third of employees (with about 60 employees) were cut earlier this year after a failed attempt to renew sponsorship for UP Global.

    UP Global, sponsors and partners of the program, including Coca-Cola, Chase, Sprint, and Intuit, sought to engage more mature startups, wanting to help ambitious entrepreneurs at every stage: “We had several partners who over the years they said: “In the initial stages, everything was cool. We have achieved a lot and learned a lot, but now we must double the stakes and be able to support the surviving teams and help them achieve their goals. ”

    And the TechStars project, with its well-established acceleration selection and investment funds, was looking for a way to expand in the opposite direction: “Every non-commercial project that has a real impact faces a problem:“ Look, we have earned! How would we save money and invest it later? ”

    David Brown, another TechStars co-founder, said: “This is not to say that we had problems attracting great projects to the accelerator in the initial stages. We receive from 12,000 to 15,000 applications per year, so finding a company is not a problem. We want to inspire even more people to become entrepreneurs and help such people get into the accelerator easier or faster. ”

    UP Global's programs were modest “talent providers” for TechStars right up until the merger. Niger notes that he knows at least 18 teams that either met the co-founder or created the company at the UP Global event, after which they got into the TechStars accelerator. David Brown says UP Global programs can serve as a good source of new employees for TechStars startups. UP Global employees will join TechStars, but for the most part their work will remain the same.

    Perfect couple

    In addition to common corporate values ​​and mission, the business models of both organizations are also very complementary. UP is working on a search for a model that allows them to participate in shaping the value of participating projects so that UP Global can benefit from this process. TechStars, a commercial organization with experience investing, can help. Now the more teams appear as a result of UP Global communities around the world, the higher will be the value of the acceleration program and TechStars venture fund.

    UP encourages start-ups to start a business, and TechStars can support worthy teams financially (even if they don’t fit within the UP framework), making startups from the UP Global communities a success. TechStars worked hard to get an opportunity to work within the UP startup communities and draw on the experience of experts and executives who have formed such communities more than anyone else.

    Mark Neiger says that after the merger, UP Global may no longer have to worry about rising fees or other things aimed at monetizing programs. David Brown reiterates the assurances of Mark Niger and adds: “TechStars never profited from entrepreneurs. We did not charge a fee for getting into the accelerator. This was our business model when we created the company in 2007. ... We have always considered this process as investing in entrepreneurs. ”

    That's why TechStars decided to abolish the fees for the Startup Next program: "We knew this was a great way to provide support to the community leaders who manage our programs and stay the most sustainable in the long run."

    Why now?

    The answer is very simple: companies believe that right now together they can do more. Over the past year, UP Global has explored various ways to grow self-reliably. They carefully considered each potential project in order to become more independent of sponsorship in a market that has grown and changed over the past 7 years.

    UP and TechStars had a close relationship from day one, and when UP needed advice, the organizations had a natural alliance, which resulted in the recent merger. The community-oriented approach of UP Global, as well as their desire to preserve programs and teams, made the merger option the most convenient. Having become part of TechStars, UP Global teams have received the tools necessary for more productive work and achievement of goals, and now they can provide new opportunities for the developing community in such a time frame that they would never meet alone.

    Now all UP Global programs will become part of TechStars, but they will remain open and independent at the community level. From the day the merger is announced, the entire UP Global team will join TechStars and continue to support the entrepreneurial community so that managers can focus on managing and expanding existing acceleration programs.

    “We are pleased that new talent will enter our new organization,” - Mark Neiger will continue to lead the majority of UP Global employees. In an interview, Mark expressed his position: “I will closely monitor new development programs and in other ways to help every person in the world try their hand at entrepreneurship.”

    “Seven years ago, the world didn’t even know what a startup was,” he said. “At that time, we just invented the iPhone. Previously, regardless of context, the word “startup” was always written with a hyphen. And now we have a real term for this [phenomenon]. The market saw how much we were able to create in the early stages of our existence. The non-profit model was a really big step for us, which allowed us to expand, have more influence, prove our value, and, I think, declare a big victory for the entire business environment. ”


    September 8, 2015 (Tuesday) at 17:00 will be DEMOday - Graduation of the sixth accelerator FRII. The number of participants in the event is limited.

    All participants must receive confirmation that their registration is approved.

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