Startup Weekend scraps spin-off program

Startup Weekend is shutting down its spin-off program the Startup Foundation, which aims to create a more permanent presence in cities, but insists the move won’t compromise its model of quick-fire start-up events.


Founded in 2009 by Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen, Start-up Weekend is an international network of hackathon events, typically held over the course of a weekend.


Based in Seattle, the nonprofit organisation hosts its events in major cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, with the aim of bringing together entrepreneurs from a variety of fields.


Over a 54-hour period, participants pitch their ideas, form teams around those ideas and develop business plans. At the event of the weekend, teams present their prototypes to a judging panel.


In September 2010, Startup Weekend received a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, enabling it to establish the Startup Foundation.


The program was designed to create a more permanent presence in individual cities in order to stimulate the entrepreneurial community.


The project kicked off last year in Seattle, Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Des Moines, Sao Paulo and Brazil. It’s unknown whether there were plans to include Australia.


However, the organisation has has decided to shut down the Startup Foundation, which struggled to find enough support to remain self-sustaining. Elements of the Startup Foundation will be reincorporated into the overall Startup Weekend operation.


“[The Startup Foundation] served as basically a great little R&D vehicle for us,” Nager told business news site Xconomy.


“We’re going to continue all of that stuff. It was just becoming a little harder for us to figure out how to continue it outside of Startup Weekend.”


“It was definitely posed as a pilot program. Everybody was kind of on the same page from the beginning. It was nothing too shocking.”


While the Startup Foundation is no longer in existence, several of its projects will continue, including a pilot program known as SW Next, designed for previous Startup Weekend attendees.


Based in Seattle, the program provides entrepreneurs with additional training and insights in order to turn their ideas into a reality. Nager says it should be regarded as a “pre-accelerator”.


“The goal is to create more capable teams by expanding our experiential approach into a longer, more formal program. People always ask, ‘What’s next?’ We finally have a good answer,” he says.


SW Next is held over two weekends and three evenings.


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