Eighteen months ago we announced a four-way partnership among UP Global, Techstars Seattle, Founders’ Co-op and the University of Washington to create an end-to-end support system for high-performing Pacific Northwest entrepreneurs here in Startup Hall. By bringing the UW’s proven strength in global talent development, Startup Weekend’s excellence in entrepreneurial education, Techstars’ world-leading model for startup acceleration and Founders’ Co-op’s regional leadership in seed-stage financing all under one roof, we believed we could help make Seattle the best place in the world to build an innovation-based company.
Today, that local experiment is going global.
This morning, Techstars and UP Global announced that we’re joining forces — not just in Seattle, but worldwide. UP Global’s flagship programs — Startup Weekend, Startup Next and Startup Digest — will become a new operating unit of Techstars called Community Programs. Marc Nager, co-founder and CEO of UP Global, will continue in his role as Chief Community Officer of Techstars. And the integrated lifecycle of entrepreneurial support that we piloted here in Seattle will now become a global capability of Techstars as it continues to expand around the world (18 programs in three countries and counting). Mirroring the local role that Founders’ Co-op plays, Techstars has also beefed up its venture finance capacity, announcing a new, $150 million venture fund created to support the Techstars network as it scales.
To be clear, we had no idea this would all come to pass when we first cooked up the idea for Startup Hall back in 2013. And the deal between Techstars and UP Global might well have happened even if Startup Hall had never existed; Techstars co-founder Brad Feld has been on the UP Global board for years, and his ideas and writings about Startup Communities were fundamental to our thinking when we set out to bring the Seattle community together at Startup Hall. But it’s not too much of a stretch to say that our work together here in Seattle brought the Techstars and UP teams together and built a culture of shared purpose and trust that helped the two teams visualize what they could accomplish as one.
Best of all, the new Techstars Community Programs team — which until yesterday was known as UP Global — is staying right here in Startup Hall. Our partnership with the University of Washington continues, and even Techstars Ventures is getting in on the regional action with an investment in Portland’s SkyWard (alongside Founders’ Co-op, Voyager Capital and Verizon Ventures). Our region will now play a more significant role in Techstars’ global expansion, and also benefit from closer ties to the wider global innovation ecosystem that Techstars has been so instrumental in supporting.
I was fired up when Startup Hall first came into being. And I was even more excited when I took the reins at Techstars Seattle. Today I am beyond thrilled that the communities and organizations we brought together locally are now united in a global project to empower entrepreneurs and build great companies wherever they choose to be.