Techstars acquires UP Global, expanding its Kansas City reach

John Fein
John Fein

Techstars, a Boulder, Colo., company that specializes in small-business startups, on Tuesday acquired UP Global, which sponsors 1,800 entrepreneurship events worldwide, including Kansas City’s Startup Weekend.

Area small-business leaders said the merger will help fledgling companies grow and become successful.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

It is not the first time these two companies have collaborated. Techstars and Seattle-based UP Global both have ties to the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, an incubation program for small businesses started by Techstars and Sprint Corp. in 2014.

The Sprint accelerator program selects 10 young companies per year and offers them mentorship, resources and seed funding for a three-month incubation period. In two years, three participating companies have moved to Kansas City.

The acquisition formalizes an eight-year relationship with UP Global, a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurship programs worldwide.

“By joining forces with UP Global, Techstars can continue to accelerate the pace of innovation by strengthening the path for entrepreneurs, providing better support for entrepreneurial communities and helping to grow the worldwide entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Techstars president David Brown said in the announcement.

The Startup Weekend idea was developed at Techstars in 2007. Two years later, Startup Weekend was acquired and rebranded as part of UP Global.

Startup Weekend now boasts more than 45,000 alumni. The event has been held in Kansas City since 2009 and recently has been hosted at the Sprint Accelerator building.

John Fein, managing director for Techstars at the Sprint Accelerator, said the acquisition will allow Techstars to work more closely with Startup Weekend events.

“Now we’re part of the same team, and we can play a closer role in helping connect entrepreneurs,” Fein said.

Blake Miller, director of Think Big Partners in Kansas City, said the presence of Techstars has put Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community on the map and the acquisition will continue to build the community.

“Having somebody like Techstars, who is literally writing the textbook on what it means to build a startup community, will only accelerate UP Global with a better business model and build on what they’re already doing,” Miller said. “It’s great for the entire community globally.”

In addition to Startup Weekend, UP Global’s startup newsletter organization, Startup Digest, has a presence in Kansas City.

The organization has not yet expanded its popular pre-acceleration program, called Startup Next, and its entrepreneurship conference, Startup Week, to the area.

The acquisition comes as the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other organizations seek to boost the area’s profile as a hotbed for entrepreneurial activity.

Maria Meyers, director of the UMKC Innovation center, said the community is committed to this goal.

“The Kansas City entrepreneurship community has changed tremendously in the last several years,” Meyers said. “We are all working to make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city.”

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