1 Million Cups of Coffee(1MC) to Bring Entrepreneurs Together!

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1MillionCupsEntrepreneurs have to find solutions for their problems with limited time and knowledge. They need answers from somewhere, and their peer entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar problems are perhaps the best source for finding solutions. Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation created 1 Million Cups (1MC) as a simple way to engage entrepreneurs in the Kansas City community. Each week, the 1MC program offers two local upstarts an opportunity to present their companies to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs.

Almost an year after the program was launched in April 2012,  “Energizing an Ecosystem: Brewing 1 Million Cups” presents results of an initial survey among 1MC participants to identify their demographic characteristics, information about whether they were a founder or co-founder of a startup, and their attendance patterns at 1MC.

Key findings from the time of the survey include:

  • The majority (57 percent) of participants have at least a bachelor’s degree, and an additional 29 percent have obtained a master’s or doctoral degree.
  • 53% of people attended 1MC due to word of mouth
  • Most attendees’ startups are in a relatively early stage: 47 percent described their business model as “in development.” However, the majority of founders and co-founders report working full time in their startup (74 percent) and having taken in at least some form of revenue (64 percent).
  • 43 percent of 1MC participants are not originally from the Kansas City metropolitan area, but came to the area to attend college and stayed, or came after college and stayed.
  • Fully 87 percent said they attended a 1MC event “to connect with other entrepreneurs,” with 46 percent also citing “to have fun” as a motivation for attendance.

Bottom Line:  Entrepreneurs value the  interaction with peer entrepreneurs.They face a number of problems as sole decision makers, and it appears that 1MC provides emotional support. Find out more about them here.

You wonder, when do we reach 1 Million, just covering 2 startups every week? Here’s what they say on their website:

Every time you meet for coffee with an entrepreneur, include the #1MillionCups hashtag on Twitter and we’ll subtract your cups from the counter!

Here is an infographic from Kauffman depicting the survey results in a more detailed fashion.

1MC_Infographic

How to take 1MC to other cities?

1MC programs already have been launched in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Houston, St. Louis and Reno, Nev. The original program was launched by team of 3. The research suggest that if we replicate 1MC in other cities, we should target places with high demand and low supply, i.e. , places where early stage entrepreneurs have not found or taken part in an entrepreneurial community. Kauffman Foundation encourages entrepreneurs and supporters to contact them to launch 1MC in their region and start a new entrepreneurial community. It has also increasingly become clear that teams, rather than solo founders are critical to entrepreneurial success, and the Kauffman foundation suggests a team approach to launching 1MC elsewhere.

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What do we think of this research?

It is fascinating that entrepreneurs rely primarily on people for important information. As the digital information becomes abundant, it becomes increasingly painful for an entrepreneur to sift through volumes of data to find out solutions to his problems. As it becomes more crucial, they often turn to face-to-face interactions. So, folks worrying a lot about social media coverage of their startups – here’s my 2 cents worth. Get out of the cabin, talk to people and interact. Feel free to share your ideas and benefit yourself.

We wonder, which city in India would be the first to adapt 1MC with open arms?