1 Million Cups (1MC) is a free, weekly program that takes place across the nation designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs.
The name is based on the idea that entrepreneurs identify solutions and network over a million cups of coffee. The programme was originally developed by the Kauffman Foundation.
Young up and coming business are encouraged to present their ideas to the community while receiving support and feedback from the audience in a question and answer based session. The intention is to create a space where entrepreneurs can foster collaboration and honest conversations.
The concept of 1MC is to help entrepreneurs get feedback and thoughts on their idea, give them a chance to polish up their public speaking skills and build a stronger personal network. Considering the crowd that attend these meetups it is also a great opportunity to find a new customer, investor or even a potential co-founder.
This nationwide project has picked up popularity, particularly within the Midwest. The Iowa City / Cedar Rapids chapter was the sixth in the U.S, and regularly hosts get togethers each Wednesday. In North Dakota, the programme has received a lot of positive interest. One startup which benefitted from a recent meet up was S2C Interactive, S2C Bioinformatics.
Dean Bohlman, a partner in the business, explained their work which offers business artifical intelligence services. Bohlman offered examples of how their technology would assist each industry, and said the programs could help identify cancer cells, survey oil pipelines and help farmers identify weeds harming their crops.
“We’ve made more progress in the past nine or 10 weeks in North Dakota than we made in two years in Texas,” Bohlman said. “And a lot of it has to do with 1 Million Cups.”
As the midwest begins to collect more attention as a innovation haven, organisations like this are likely to see a spike in activity. Moreover, free services are a fantastic way to provide support for local business and startups, making once undiscovered states like North Dakota increasingly more appealing for entrepreneurs.
If you feel you have an idea or business and would like to take part in a 1MC meetup, you can follow this link to find your local community.