Steve Case, Up Global taking their start-up campaign beyond the United States


Steve Case, chief executive officer of Revolution LLC and co-founder of America Online, speaks at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Steve Case last month announced plans to travel around the country this summer to highlight — and perhaps accelerate — the rise of start-up ecosystems in cities not commonly mentioned in the same breath as New York, Boston and Silicon Valley.

Now, he’s taking that same campaign overseas.

One of the founders and former chief executive of America Online, Case and his wife, Jean, will lead a series of visits by successful American entrepreneurs to budding start-up communities in cities around the world under a new program to be announced Monday by Seattle-based nonprofit Up Global. Called Entrepreneurs Across Borders, the initiative plans to kick off with a delegation heading to Barcelona in October.

“We’re looking to visit developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, ones that are in the throes of building co-working spaces and business accelerators, and developing angel investment,” Marc Nager, the group’s chief executive, said. “We want to come in and help codify and accelerate those efforts.”

Up Global — the result of a merger between nonprofit Startup Weekend and the White House’s Startup America partnership — hosts an array of events around the world, each meant to promote entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystems. The organization has worked with the Case Foundation on multiple occasions of late, recently partnering on Steve Case’s upcoming roadshow to Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville.

“I’ve long known that great start-ups can be found everywhere, not just in Silicon Valley,” Case said earlier this year after announcing a $100,000 investment in each of 10 start-ups based in nontraditional tech hubs. Case has long championed the creation of start-up hubs outside of hotbeds such as Silicon Valley — a campaign he has dubbed the “Rise of the Rest.”

Under the new international program, Up Global and the Case Foundation will be recruiting entrepreneurs and executives who have raised at least $2 million in funding or grown a start-up’s revenue to at least $1 million. During their trips overseas, they will meet with entrepreneurs, investors and local officials to discuss ways each of them can help build a community in which upstart businesses can thrive.

Nager called the program a natural next step for the organization, which already has volunteers working in cities around the globe and will host some type of entre­pre­neur­ship event in 126 countries in 2014.

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J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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