What Startup Weekend organizers want (and don’t want) from sponsors


I helped Carie and Kevin, the awesome people at Coca-Cola, run an awesomely awesome session at UP Summit because they really care.

Their goal was to find new ways global sponsors can be helpful to local event organizers. Here are the results.

First, they confirmed their suspicions:

  • Provide a venue in my local city
  • Help me promote my local Startup Weekend
  • Ca$h
  • Provide coaches
  • Send an executive to be a judge
  • Provide food or drinks
  • Swag
  • Provide WiFi hotspots
  • Provide supplies for the event
  • Free / discounts to your product or service

Then they opened it up to awesome-r ideas:

  • Help recruit other sponsors (there was applause for this one)
  • Get corporate employees to attend local Startup Weekends
  • Host fun experiences in the middle of the event (e.g. photo booth, ice cream bar on Saturday night, etc.)
  • Participate. Stay a long time. Really get into it!
  • Doing it for the right reasons (altruistically)
  • Sponsor with a long-term vision. Sponsor several events in one city for the entire year.
  • Offer to pitch real problems that your company is facing
  • Let Startup Weekend teams do market validation with your employees
  • Let Startup Weekend teams do market validation with your customers
  • Give access to your company’s data
  • Do something special to recognize the volunteers who run the event

And in the process they also learned what sponsors shouldn’t do:

  • Ask for too much branding
  • Send too many mentors from one sponsor
  • The mentors you send try to sell their own stuff
  • Talk too long on stage (We gave you 2 minutes and you took 10)
  • Ask for reporting or surveys
  • Recruiting too aggressively
  • Leading with the brand during conversations instead of leading with the event

What’s missing from these lists?


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