1 Million Cups: Caffeinating Entrepreneurs across Missouri
There’s this place where like-minded entrepreneurs come together every week, drink mass amounts of coffee and tea, network and give honest, straightforward feedback about new startups. It’s called 1 Million Cups and if you aren’t already attending it every Wednesday, you’re going to become a regular.
So what is 1 Million Cups or 1MC? Started by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2012, 1 Million Cups is a free weekly (sometimes monthly) educational program where two startup entrepreneurs present their business or plan to the entrepreneurial community then answer questions on-the-spot and receive live feedback. After each presentation, the entrepreneur is asked, “What can we do as a community to help you?”
“1MC is a place where entrepreneurs can be around others like them; people who “get” them. We learn from each other, support one another, mentor and advise through struggles and celebrate successes. In a nutshell, 1MC is like startup church,” says David Frahm, organizer of 1 Million Cups Jefferson City.
The cool thing about 1 Million Cups is there’s probably one near you: Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Sedalia, Springfield, and St. Louis. It’s one of the few programs where entrepreneurs travel from region to region across the state to present to different 1 Million Cups audiences.
“By presenting at multiple 1MCs, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to talk to many different communities and their members. The impact from the audience is huge and a presenter can learn a lot from many different people,” says Jessie Hughey, organizer of 1 Million Cups Springfield.
Entrepreneurs who present at 1 Million Cups not only receive direct feedback from the community, they have the opportunity to network and meet professionals, potential business partners and even investors. During the feedback session, business owners get insight directly from people who are either impartial to their business or are potential customers.
“Unlike other events, 1MC is a place where you can let your guard down, and engage with other entrepreneurs about what’s going on behind the scenes in your business. You can make some solid connections with people who really care about your success—not just a transaction or business card exchange,” says David.
Thinking about presenting at 1 Million Cups? Great! David and Jessie have a few tips:
- Attend 1 Million Cups a couple of times as an attendee so you understand the format of the program and the types of questions the community may ask.
- Understand your business financials and growth plans inside and out. These are usually the toughest questions you may receive.
- When presenting, talk to the audience as you would a friend, rather than an infomercial about your business. “Instead of trying too hard to look like everything is great, talk about what’s really going on, digging deeper and taking advantage of the learning experience,” says David.
- Remember why 1 Million Cups exists: to solve challenges with the help from your community. “The presenters that get the most help from 1MC are the ones that present challenges or opportunities and ask for help,” says Jessie.
What if you’re not an entrepreneur? You should still go to 1 Million Cups. It’s a great place to meet the movers and shakers who are starting and growing businesses in your community. David urges people to go, even if they don’t consider themselves an entrepreneur.
“Maybe you’ve got ideas and just don’t know where or how to start. 1MC is where many people take their first steps,” he says.
Who knows? You may get inspired and start your own business (and we’ll be there to help!).
Find a 1 Million Cups near you. There are currently six 1 Million Cups organizations in the state of Missouri. Connect with your local 1 Million Cups and get your ideas caffeinating!
Caffeinate your business today
So we have to ask . . . what can we do as a community to help you?
1 Million Cups is just one of the 500+ Resource Partner organizations created just for Missouri entrepreneurs. Call us at 866-870-6500 or send us a message and we’ll craft you a personal action plan that walks you through the next steps for your business.