Every Wednesday morning, entrepreneurs in six cities meet over coffee to share their startup ideas and challenges, and to get feedback from experienced business owners. The hour-long open forum is called 1 Million Cups, launched in April 2012 in Kansas City, Mo., by the Kauffman Foundation to create a community for entrepreneurs, mentors, community members and advisers.
“We started 1 Million Cups as a response to what was happening in the Kansas City startup community,” says program co-founder Nate Olson. “Starting a business was a lonely thing then. It didn’t make sense why these entrepreneurs starting scalable companies never spent much time together. They’re seemingly dealing with a lot of the same issues within their companies.”
Each week, two local entrepreneurs present their startups to the entrepreneurial audience. With 20 mintues of feedback, these entrepreneurs (and others in the crowd) can learn how to improve their business while they connect with a community full of people who care about their progress and success.
The attendance in Kansas City has grown from a couple of dozen participants to 250, and 1MC is now offered in St. Louis; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Houston; and Reno, Nev. The program’s goal is to reach 20 cities in the United States and overseas by the end of 2013.