“Let’s meet for coffee.” It’s a common invitation that often leads to the exchange of ideas, mentorship, and career advice. The 1 Million Cups program, launched in 2012 by the Kauffman Foundation, is a free, national program designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs. Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee, the program provides new and growing business owners a weekly platform to present their business plans and receive immediate feedback and advice from industry experts, venture capitalists, fellow business owners and members of the community. All of this happens, of course, over a cup of complimentary coffee.
“The idea started in Kansas City and has since gone national,” said NTC’s Business Development Coordinator Liberty Shere, one of the event coordinators. “Claremore is proud to be one of the 114 cities across 35 states that is caffeinating the community through its own 1 Million Cups group.”
The 1 Million Cups format is pretty consistent in each location. Every meeting is held on a Wednesday morning. During the meeting, attendees briefly hear from the organizers before one or two small businesses or early-stage startups present their companies to a diverse audience of their peers, mentors, educators, and advisors for roughly 10 minutes before a longer question and answer session happens.
“The format allows each business owner to receive feedback from the audience and the local community organizers,” said Shere. “The culture surrounding 1 Million Cups is that of a supportive, neutral space welcoming entrepreneurs to be open and honest about their businesses and the challenges they face.”
The most important pieces of the 1 Million Cups format for many of the entrepreneurs are the relationships they develop and the connections they make in the community. It helps them establish a support and advisory council of sorts. In fact, the last question from a 1 Million Cups moderator is always, “How can we help you?”
The next 1 Million Cups Claremore event will be held on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at 8:30 AM at the She Brews Coffee House downtown location. Presenters at the upcoming meeting will be 360Favs and Oak Tree Photography. For more information about the 1 Million Cups program, visit www.1millioncups.com.