Two popular startup advocate groups are merging to create one organization that aims to connect and help aspiring entrepreneurs around the world.
Startup Weekend, a non-profit that supports entrepreneurship through worldwide educational events, and the Startup America Partnership, a movement of thousands of founders and experts dedicated to helping startups succeed, announced that they are joining forces to launch UP Global.
The new organization will extend and expand the entrepreneur meet-ups and learning programs currently underway in more than 110 countries, from Thailand to Sudan.
Startup America was initially launched as a three-year project sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman of Startup America, says they intended to help jumpstart entrepreneurship in underserved areas in the U.S. and then "pass the baton back to the region." However, six months ago many in these regions expressed that momentum was building, and they wanted the program to continue, he says.
While UP Global is primarily an umbrella for the two groups, part of the impetus behind them coming together is to share resources and enable Startup America to use the international connections of Startup Weekend, which is in more than 400 cities worldwide. Startup America and Startup Weekend will each keep their brand names.
"As this has come together…it's created a sense of possibility in a lot of these regions," says Case, who will join the UP Global board. "By having this overarching entity, we think people will want to support it. Most importantly, it's better for the startups."
Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where hopeful entrepreneurs get together to pitch ideas, form teams and get face-time with local business leaders. It boasts a network of 100,000 alumni and thousands of volunteer organizers. A typical weekend costs participants between $75 and $150.
Related: How Startup Weekend Got Its Start
Meanwhile, Startup America has a network of nearly 13,000 startups with a combined $6 billion in revenues, according to the organization. It has enlisted high-profile entrepreneurs such as Tory Burch, Michael Dell, Reed Hastings and Reid Hoffman as advisors.
Up Global will continue targeting cities in the U.S. and world that, unlike startup hubs like San Francisco and Seattle, do not have established startup support networks and infrastructure in order to discover and accelerate talent. The new entity has prominent backers including non-profits the Kauffman Foundation and Case Foundation and tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, each contributing $1 million or more.
"The best hope for a peaceful world is economic opportunity," says Case. "People living in New York or Silicon Valley don't understand the problem. The rest of the country and world are desperate to have a sense of community."
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