Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Startup Weekend in China: Going Forward

September 2014: Officially in China: In order to improve operations, target new areas of growth and development and adapt to China, in September 2014, UP Global in Seattle, USA launched its first official initiative in China by bringing on me as its “Community Development Manager” for China.

My mission is to help adapt our model, mission and programs to China and from their scale our growth accordingly. I’m focused on Startup Weekend as key first step but will expand work on Startup Digest (our newsletter of curated content for startup community), Startup Next (our pre-accelerator program), and eventually Startup Education.

Already in my first weeks, we are seeing some early success in new places like Qingdao, Haikou, Chongqing, Nanjing, and Ningbo. Each are looking to find the right mix of elements to bring Startup Weekend to their cities. At the same time, we are formalizing best practices for Chinese organizer teams and expanding our facilitator training to prepare for the future.

November 2014 will likely be our biggest concentration of events in China since we held our first event in Beijing in 2010. Various cities in China will hold Startup Weekend as part of the Global Startup Battle (http://globalstartupbattle.co).

As the world celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week, Global Startup Battle will be hosting the biggest startup competition the world has ever seen. Over 250 cities around will be putting on their own SWs and then after, successful GSB teams will be competing regionally or in a themed track for prizes.

In terms of partnership and cooperation, we are working hard to find the right kind of institutional and business strategic partners for us in China. China is a complicated place, and, as a recognized international brand, Startup Weekend is the unique position to connect Chinese companies with the international entrepreneurial world. We are currently in discussions with a few regional leaders to find a solid, mutually beneficial cooperation for both sides. We are looking to strategic partners as a key driver in China.

Beyond this, we’re working to bring Startup Weekend into China’s educational sector via our first university Startup Weekend. We have yet to successfully reach the top universities and students in China. Working with universities in China brings unique issues. We are currently working with a few universities.

China is indeed a challenging place, especially for a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization. Compared to our other expansion markets (Latin America, Brazil, India, and Malaysia), China brings a few unique issues. These challenges range from cultural and linguistic to societal and legal and even to technological and social media. We are adapting and learning, but even in the first months, metrics are looking good.

Overall it’s been a great first step, and I’m happy to announce that we are we are officially looking for national, regional and event sponsors to help us grow and adapt to China.

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