A New Path forward for UP Global

At the Case Foundation and Revolution, we have long been supporters of the idea that unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial approaches is crucial to drive innovation, accelerate economic growth, create jobs and solve big, intractable problems. That’s why we’ve invested directly in entrepreneurs, supported programs like the US-Palestinian Partnership (and as a result the creation of a venture capital fund in the West Bank) and created initiatives like the Startup America Partnership and Rise of the Rest. And it’s why I’ve served, and continue to serve, in leadership roles for efforts like the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

In May of 2013, we supported the creation of a new organizationUP Global, which represented the combined power of the rapidly growing Startup Weekend and the Startup America Partnership, which we co-created alongside the Kauffman Foundation. I’ve been proud to serve as chair of UP Global as the organization seeks to leverage grassroots communities to create and nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S. and around the world. Since that time, the UP Global organization has continued to expand – nearly doubling the presence of Startup Weekend, which in 2014 held 905 events in 501 cities (in 135 countries), and introducing new programming like Startup Week, bringing together 18,000 attendees in places like Columbus, Phoenix, Manila and Stockholm. You can learn more about the organization’s growth in its most recent impact report, available here.

Today, UP Global has taken an important next step in the future of the organization by becoming a part of Techstars, an organization that has played a key role in identifying high-potential entrepreneurs and bringing the power of the ecosystem to help them grow. The merger will combine two powerful entrepreneurial networks with closely aligned missions. It is our hope that the efforts of UP Global will continue to gain momentum, further extending its global footprint and reaching more people in more places.

The Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest and Startup Week programs will remain under the Techstars umbrella, and while much of the groundwork and principles established by the Startup America Partnership efforts will continue within a number of Techstars programs, the brand will not. At the Case Foundation, we continue to see an opportunity for an effort focused specifically on the role of entrepreneurship to drive American innovation, and as a result we have retained the Startup America Partnership brand. We have begun to explore opportunities for future Startup America programming, and will have more to share in the coming months.

In the meantime, please join us in congratulating the UP Global and Techstars team as they forge a new path ahead for entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum of the Parts

This post was written by Scott Case on behalf of the Case Foundation: 

January 31st marked the two-year anniversary of the Startup America Partnership. And, today, nearly 50 leaders from the 30 Startup Regions will be in Washington to celebrate their success, strategize about challenges, and converse with our partners at the White House and Cabinet agencies. If, as journalist John Gunther said, America was founded on a good idea, then only by securing the future of good ideas will its spirit continue. In the two years since the launch of the Startup America Partnership, I’ve seen that these good ideas are not only prospering, but are prospering across the country.

We already knew that the job growth of past decades was wholly due to new companies — that was the easy part. What we didn’t know is that what makes these companies thrive is unique to each place. Our simple mission — supporting the local startup scene’s development — has grown into a nationwide movement.
One example, Iowa, is among the hottest places for entrepreneurship, beating out cities like LA, New York, and Denver in a recent Kauffman study. The state’s regional champions, inspired by the entrepreneurs they meet every day, are shifting Iowa to be an innovation hub of IT, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

Our greatest insight is that it is all about these champions. These leaders — almost all serial entrepreneurs themselves — showcase their regions to a larger group of stakeholders. They share their stories of success, growth, and challenges while amplifying their bold, audacious vision for their region’s future.

Startup America Champions are reimagining the high-growth potential of places everywhere in our country. We can already see the difference in cities like DC, Indianapolis, and Nashville, to name a few. For Startup America — “the catalyst for a movement, for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs” according to a recent Kauffman study — visible, local networks are key.

We supported this rising tide idea with high hopes that founders would foster their own communities, connecting to resources hidden under an outdated image of place. And connect they have, with one another and with Startup America board members, sponsors, and partners. They share lessons learned, brainstorm new ideas to old problems, and maximize relationships old and new. The pursuit of the entrepreneurial game is happening everywhere.

As Startup America begins its third year, it’s building on what champions around the country have taught. From that same Kauffman report, we’re holding “a belief in loose communities of entrepreneurs rather than an organizational hierarchy; propagating from what exists, rather than creating from scratch; embracing, not resisting, disruption; patience to develop communities over years, not weeks; celebrating success; and, above all, focusing on entrepreneurs.”

In other words: we’re power fans of the crazy entrepreneurs everywhere who are committed to their companies and their startup communities — and, in turn, building business that are growing and prosperous and building communities that are healthy and thriving.

Fearless Focus: Scott Case

In our journey to Be Fearless and champion a fearless approach to tackling social challenges, the Case Foundation team will spotlight leading changemakers across sectors that have embraced fearlessness. Our spotlights will provide personal accounts of why these changemakers adopted a fearless approach, how they overcame hurdles, and how taking risks, being bold, and failing forward led to quicker results and deeper impact.

We begin our Fearless Focus series with Scott Case, CEO of Startup America Partnership, and former CEO of Malaria No More and co-founder of Priceline. From setting big goals to end malaria deaths by 2015 and adding a dose of humor to a serious health issue, to taking inspiration from the entrepreneurs Startup America supports, Scott Case prides himself on not letting fear stand in the way.

You can watch Scott’s answers to our questions in the video above, or share each segment individually:
What do you think it means to Be Fearless in approaching social challenges?
Tell us about a time when you and your organization were Fearless.
What did you learn & what advice would you give other organizations facing a similar decision point?
What inspired your organization to Be Fearless?

Learn more about Scott Case here. Read more about Be Fearless Campaign. Know someone that we should spotlight for Fearless Focus? Let us know here in the comments or tell us on twitter @casefoundation using #befearless.

Let’s Startup America!

America’s story has been forged in large part by entrepreneurs who have, against great odds, created innovative products and services that have changed the world – and created millions of jobs.

Today, as the Internet and new social technologies continue to explode and create new opportunities, as science and medicine advance at lightning speeds, and as the world grows more interconnected, the opportunities for entrepreneurship abound, but it’s up to a new class of creative risk-takers to unleash the next wave of American innovation.

As a result, I’m honored and thrilled to serve as chair of the Startup America Partnership, announced at the White House today, and co-funded by the Case Foundation and our great friends at the Kauffman Foundation, with Kauffman President and CEO Carl Schramm serving as a founding board member.

Startup America is a White House campaign to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation, and the Partnership represents the private sector’s commitment to the campaign. By creating an alliance of entrepreneurs, funders, CEOs, universities and other leaders, the Partnership represents an exciting opportunity for government and the private sector to work together to dramatically increase the prevalence, scale, and success of innovative, high-growth U.S. firms.

I know from my days at AOL that government can open doors and help spark new ideas. It can convene leaders and influencers from different worlds and put them in the same room to share ideas. It can challenge people and companies to do better, to do more. It can invest in and shape ground breaking research, and then, at its smartest, move aside and let innovation take hold.

But government can’t do it alone. Businesses need to take up the challenge and help to create an ecosystem that nurtures the creation and growth of new enterprises, companies that are “built to last” and will be the cornerstones of tomorrow’s economy.

Working together is the key. The Startup America Partnership will work to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country with new initiatives that encourage private sector investment in job-creating startups, accelerate research, and address barriers to success for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It starts by celebrating entrepreneurship. Last week, when I heard President Obama say, “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair,” I gave a cheer. As a society, we invest time and energy in what we celebrate. This Partnership is a way to celebrate, recognize and encourage entrepreneurs and innovators as a critical gear in the engine of growth.

I am excited to embark on this journey, working with many of our great public sector leaders who were at the launch today: Commerce Secretary Locke, the new head of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and SBA administrator Karen Mills. I am equally excited about the enthusiasm that the private sector has shown with significant commitments from companies like Intel, IBM, Ernst and Young, TechStars and so many others.

But, honestly, what I am most excited about is igniting a spark that propels young entrepreneurs and enterprises everywhere.

So, tell us what you think, share your ideas, and let us know your #startupamerica story on Twitter as well. Together we can create jobs, build the next great companies that bring hope and opportunity to communities, and Startup America!