Can We Bring 1 Million Cups to Rochester?

Maybe you have heard about 1 Million Cups before. This completely free, weekly event was developed by the Kauffman Foundation with the self-described goal to caffeinate an entrepreneurial nation. As of January 2016, 1 Million Cups was in 77 communities across the country in over 35 different states.

The Kauffman Foundation, the so-to-speak mother of 1 Million Cups, was developed in Kansas City by local entrepreneur and humanitarian Ewing Marion Kauffman in the mid-1960s. The mission: to grow and establish programs for entrepreneurial advancement and education. If you ever find yourself in Kansas City, take some time to visit the Kauffman Foundation. It’s like a playground for entrepreneurs.

1 Million Cups takes place at 9AM, local time, every Wednesday in each of these communities across the United States. You can be sitting in Saint Paul or Madison or Fargo and know that another 1 Million Cups community is gathering at the same time to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

In its most simplistic form, 1 Million Cups is a business pitch event. Each week, two early stage startups talk about their business for six minutes. This pitch is followed by twenty minutes of questions and answers with a gathered audience of peers, potential mentors, support providers, leaders, and community advocates. So yes, 1 Million Cups is about giving a business pitch. But it has the potential to offer so much more.

One of the main goals of 1 Million Cups is to leverage the shared experience of the gathered community to encourage entrepreneurs and provide constructive feedback on their business model. It’s about supporting entrepreneurs through the collective knowledge and power of the community. The first question asked during the Q&A session is always, “What can this community do for you?” to set the tone.

We have an established 1 Million Cups community right in Saint Paul (@1MillionCupsSPL) that we have strong ties to. There is also a new, emerging 1 Million Cups community in Willmar (@1MillionCupsWMR).

Several steps have been taken in the community to bring 1 Million Cups to Rochester, hopefully in the very near future.

What can 1 Million Cups do for the Rochester entrepreneurial and small business community? This event addresses many of the concerns made at the Collider Community event a few weeks ago.

1 Million Cups in Rochester could:

  1. Engage the community with a dedicated event. The local spearheads for this project are seeking out a monthly option for 1 Million Cups, instead of the more traditional weekly option. This event would bring exposure to two emerging entrepreneurs, who are developing real businesses and taking real risks, each month.  
  2. Open up the conversation around entrepreneurship, risk taking, and failure.
  3. Identify the next entrepreneurs.
  4. Help to establish mentorship roles in the community.
  5. Connect and engage with entrepreneurs and mentors in southeast Minnesota as a whole.

I encourage all of our entrepreneurs to head to Saint Paul and Willmar and connect with these communities and see what would could also bring to Rochester and the surrounding area.

If you want to get a sneak peak of what 1 Million Cups could look like in our community, be sure to stay updated on Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Rochester. GEW takes place November 14th through the 18th. We hope to put on a 1 Million Cups-like event Wednesday November 16th.