As a Business and Product Developer I enjoy staying connected to the start-up scene. Much like a song writer gets inspiration from other people’s songs; I get inspiration from other people’s business and product success. Fortunately, Kansas City has a strong and very active start-up community and one activity that I try not to miss each week is 1 Million Cups.
1 Million Cups is a community sponsored and supported event that focuses each week on two local entrepreneurs or start-ups. For 60 minutes every Wednesday two businesses get 6 minutes to “pitch” to a packed house both in person and on live-stream. After the pitch there is 20 minutes for question and answer; this is where the fun, and real benefit, starts.
The audience is a reflection of the purpose and includes small business owners, other entrepreneurs, product developers, marketing professionals, and a myriad of other interested people. There are questions about revenue models. There are questions about marketing strategies. There are questions about operating expenses. There are questions about competition. There are always lots of questions.
What sets 1 Million Cups apart from other “pitch sessions,” is the questions are not venture-capitalist-eating-little-startup type questions; these are entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur-over-a-cup-of-coffee type questions. At the end of the 26 minutes, a facilitator will try to ask of the presenter, “what can the audience, made up of people with various skills and interests, do for you? How can we help you succeed?”
Everyone attending 1 Million Cups is there to promote new business and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a community of people collaborating around ideas and finding ways to share skills and knowledge to succeed. This is the real benefit of 1 Million Cups.
Creating a similar type of community within a big company helps promote the same type of growth and innovation. At Boston Financial our “intrapreneurs” benefit from a network of internal experts and idea champions, who all love coffee and who all follow the mantra; “how can we help you succeed?”
We may be far from having 1 million cups of coffee, but innovation only needs one cup. Want to share a cup?