1 Million Cups- the free, national education program for entrepreneurs- has a lofty goal. The organization aims to grow from 146 to 500 local chapters by the end of 2018. Plans for this expansion were unveiled at the 1 Million Cups Organizers Summit held last month in Kansas City, the birthplace of the program.
1 Million Cups occurs at 9AM every Wednesday in volunteer-run chapters all over the country. The local contingent, 1 Million Cups Rochester, launched this February and takes place the first Wednesday of every month. (The next one will be held this upcoming Wednesday October 4th.)
The goal of the program is to “connect, inspire, educate, and empower our communities.” At each 1 Million Cups event, two entrepreneurs get up in front of a gathering of peers to tell their story and- most importantly- ask for help from the community.
The 1 Million Cups Organizers Summit served as a unique way to meet other chapters- 96% of all 1 Million Cups were represented- to better understand what worked and what failed in these communities. 1 Million Cups Rochester volunteer Jamie Sundsbak represented the Rochester community at the event.
Although standard 1 Million Cups communities have programming every week, an increasing number of chapters hold only one event per month, providing a lower barrier to entry, Sundsbak explained. Many communities, Sundsbak said, have strayed away from the traditional 1 Million Cups model and have explored structures that work best for their community.
These alternatives include limiting the presentation to only one entrepreneurial speaker and dedicating the rest of the event to networking. Some communities have held quarterly recruitment events, where interested startups use the time to apply to become 1 Million Cups presenters.
[Interested in trying out a new format at 1 Million Cups Rochester? Fill out this survey to let the organizers know what you want.]
Sundsbak said that Kansas City is an amazing place to be an entrepreneur. He often looks toward the city as “a place [Rochester] could be very, very far down the road.”
Kansas City has the mission to become the most entrepreneurial city in the country, which, Sundsbak said, drives decision making on all levels. The inclusive, entrepreneur-led community runs on a “give first, get later” mentality.
“It’s been amazing, how aligned everybody has been, which I think is something that is very different from what we experience [in Rochester],” he explained.
Kansas City is built for the entrepreneur. The community has 12 business accelerators, 5 business incubators, 15 coworking facilities, and 7 maker spaces. Twenty-three startup support organizations are in the city, including the Kauffman Foundation, a private organization with the goal to “foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success.”
Here’s an inside look at four of the coworking spaces that house Kansas City’s entrepreneurs.
Plexpod: a 180,000-square foot space that previously was a middle school.
Think Big Coworking: four floors of coworking dedicated to community and promoting entrepreneurship.
Sprint Accelerator: a corporate accelerator with a dedicated portion for free coworking and conference rooms named after Kansas City innovations.