Startup Weekend just got a lot more intense.

Colorado-based accelerator program Techstars has acquired non-profit UP Global, operator of the 54-hour mini-incubator Startup Weekend. The merger will bring together Techstars' accelerator and venture capital investment with UP Global's events for entrepreneurs.

The move will give Techstars an early look at the fledgling startups coming out of UP Global's pre-accelerator program Startup Next and expand Techstars' network of entrepreneurs and mentors. UP Global operates more than 1,000 events for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in 120 countries each year, while Techstars runs programs in just the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

The deal brings together two organizations that have had close ties for several years. The idea for Startup Weekend was born in the Techstars basement in 2007. UP Global was itself the product of a merger between Startup Weekend and Startup America, the nonprofit founded in 2011 by AOL co-founder Steve Case. While Case is chairman of the organization, he is not involved in its day-to-day operations.

What's it mean for entrepreneurs? Techstars co-founder David Cohen says it will give more people access to entrepreneurship. "You want to do business in Estonia? Here are the top mentors in Estonia."

In addition to combining UP Global's 40-person team with Techstars' roughly 85 employees, the deal with create new efficiencies for UP Global programs. Effective immediately, Techstars will eliminate the $300 fee entrepreneurs previously had to pay to participate in Startup Next.

One of the larger goals for the merger is building a new community of startup investors by connecting young founders with former participants of Techstars and UP Global programs.

"Those people then become the angel investors and give back to the system," Cohen says. "That's a self-sustaining global network that is going to flip the model for venture capital."

While all UP Global programs will become a part of Techstars, each event will continue to be run independently. Google for Entrepreneurs, the search giant's program that provides financial support and other resources to co-working spaces in 125 countries, will continue to partner with Startup Next and Startup Week, the five-day networking event. 

"All of these things will continue to operate, but they will be supported by us," Cohen says. "We're not going to view this as just deal flow."

Published on: Jun 16, 2015