Techstars Buys UP Global, The Non-Profit Behind Startup Weekend

Techstars — the startup incubator that has built up a network of programs across the U.S. and Europe and specific verticals like health and education — is expanding once again. The company has acquired UP Global, the non-profit group that organizes the entrepreneur events Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Next, and Startup Digest.

Terms of the deal, which closed on Monday, have not been disclosed but David Cohen, a partner at Techstars says that it was both in the form of a commitment to finance UP, or would be invested into other non-profit programs. “We’re fortunate that the benefactors of UP Global will continue to support it, too,” he added. This is Techstars’ third “acquisition” of an organization, after taking over Springboard in London and Excelerate Labs in Chicago to expand its main accelerator program. It also acquired NameLayer, a portfolio and marketplace for domain names.

UP Global itself will now cease to be a nonprofit, but Techstars has committed to running the events as they were before: all programs will migrate over to Techstars, along with all UP Global employees. Additionally, Techstars will remove the fees for Startup Next, UP’s pre-accelerator program.

One of the advantages for Techstars taking on UP Global is for deal flow, Cohen says. Being involved with early-stage programs and entrepreneurs will get Techstars closer to meeting startups and putting them into their own programs, before they’re funded or applying for other accelerators. But it also fills out part of what Techstars is trying to do as an organization, he adds. “We want to help entrepreneurs through the whole journey, from idea to IPO,” he says.

However, Cohen makes sure to point out that UP won’t be a Techstars-only shop, with no obligations or ties between the UP programs and the accelerator. Also, Google for Entrepreneurs will continue to work with Startup Week and Startup Next.

Techstars buying UP Global is also a kind of symmetric ending for the organization. It was first thought up in the basement of Techstars’ Boulder HQ, Cohen tells me, as a networking event for the current cohort of startups at Techstars. “It was like we were separated at birth,” he says. Then five months ago Techstars and UP where discussing ways of collaborating together more closely. 

“We’ve known them a long time and new we should do something more together, and suddenly it made sense just to combine,” he says.

As part of the deal, UP Global CEO will become Techstars’ VP of community.