SG Guide | Working with Sponsors

Securing sponsors is a powerful way to improve your events with free food, space, or funding. These types of contributions are the fuel that accelerates the growth of your local community exponentially, helping you move from running like a lean startup to putting on world-class events. We’ll give some inspiring case studies of how to find, close, and incorporate sponsors. Partnering with Startup Grind means working with great people who want to build win-win relationships transparently and for the benefit of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

When searching for sponsors, make sure you know who the decisionmaker is and if there is budget to spend, and when that budget can be deployed. If not, continue to look elsewhere but do ask for referrals if appropriate.

Where to Look

Finding sponsors is a matter of understanding who in your community already serves entrepreneurs.

  • Your region’s most popular coworking spaces, restaurants, or event spaces are great places with whom to work on food and event accommodations.

  • Local service providers like lawyers, consultants, and design/development agencies are also eager to connect with your audience.

  • Startups already attending your events are great partners: they know what to expect from the events, and they’d often love to become active supporters of the events through a financial contribution.

  • Investment funds and angel investors might also be interested in becoming sponsors as a way of building a better deal flow of companies in which to invest.

What to Offer

In exchange for these donations of space, resources, or financing, Startup Grind chapters are able to offer their sponsors the greatest value of all: getting directly in front of the ideal customer. Christie Kerner of Phoenix, Arizona says it best:

“Getting in front of your target customers is something every business spends lots of time and money on (*LOTS*), and for those businesses who want to reach entrepreneurs we are simply making their life wonderful by providing them obvious, organized exposure - especially in such a positive forum.”

To sell this value to sponsors, however, you must fall in love what what you are offering to potential sponsors. Believing in the value of your community and the quality of exposure for your sponsors is what makes it a compelling sale.

Strategically, getting a sponsor for a single event means having to return to negotiations with every following event. In securing sponsorships, your goal should be to get a sign-on for at least three events for a recurring amount each month. You and your sponsor will save a great deal of time, and you’ll have additional peace of mind in the financial buffer you’ll have to grow your chapter. Your sponsor benefits by investing in marketing for a growing event series, getting higher returns at the same price for each event after your first, during which you’ll continue to attract many more attendees.

Working With Sponsors

Here’s Derek Anderson, founder and CEO of Startup Grind, on How to Close Great Sponsor Partnerships - soon after securing the Google for Entrepreneurs partnership in 2013.


Our regional director Christie Kerner is also an expert on creating impossible-to-deny value to her sponsors. Her presentation from Director Day 2015 is among the best Startup Grind has recorded.

VIDEO: 2015 Sponsor Sizzle Reel

As an excellent tip from Christie of Phoenix, AZ, and old sales adage is an important reference for knowing your close rates over time:

There are plenty of good reasons why genuinely interested prospects may not follow up.  It's a mistake for you to only make one attempt to contact them. These are taken from our real sales statistics:

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.

  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.

  • 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop.

  • Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts.

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact.

  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact.

  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact.

  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.

  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Email Template

Startup Grind, a global community powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, is on its [First, Second…] event and is now accepting sponsors.  We would love to partner with your organization - we’ve attached our sponsor information for your review.  Our next event is featuring [Company/accomplishment, name of speaker]. Join us!

Startup Grind is a really cool global community powered by Google for Entrepreneurs.  We host monthly events for [our city’s] entrepreneurs.  Each event features a successful local founder, innovator, educator or investor who shares personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies.  We offer local food + drinks and spend an hour filming an informal, intimate fireside-chat-style interview with our awesome person of the month then have a Q&A and mixer.

Each event gets archived on – some of the past interviews were with biz legends like the founders of Nest, Capital One, Pinterest, Stripe, SoundCloud, Words with Friends, Intuit, Indiegogo... the list goes on and on.  These interviews are a unique peek behind-the-scenes at the life, journey and insights of those who have gone before, and are incredibly engaging and inspiring events.  Startup Grind was recently featured in Forbes magazine and is quickly becoming known as the TED of the entrepreneur world.

Our various levels of sponsorship (attached) are designed to give you the option to choose the level of visibility you prefer: anything from a simple logo on our site to a live booth and swag giveaways is available.  We only partner with organizations we believe to have similar values and would be delighted to have you on board.  

Please let me know what questions you have.  We hope to hear from you soon!



Director, Startup Grind [CITY]: [PHONE NUMBER]

PS:  I think you are a GREAT candidate for this exposure as an avid supporter of the local entrepreneur community.  I look forward to partnering with you.

Promoting a Sponsor

With a sponsor has officially signed on to support your chapter, the Wordpress tool can be used to automatically provide them with exposure across all Startup Grind properties (including the Startup Grind website, Meetup, and more). Promoting your sponsors enthusiastically before, during, and after the event isn’t just great for your sponsor, but for you: bringing energy and excitement to your sponsor’s brand will encourage other partners to approach you to get the same exposure at your next event. Treating your sponsors well will also lead to attracting more new, larger contributors.

In the Wordpress tool, click the Sponsors tab and enter the following information:

  • Sponsor Name

  • Description (3-5 sentences)

  • Website URL

  • An image you’ve confirmed with the sponsor

Once posted, the sponsor’s content will appear on every event page: Meetup, Eventbrite, and your local chapter of Startup Grind.

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