Now brewing in a city near you: How an upstart, grassroots entrepreneurial-education movement is building startup communities locally, nationally, and globally over 1 Million Cups of coffee.
A recently launched program for startups and technology companies, called “1 Million Cups” (1MC) is showcasing innovative Riverside County companies every Wednesday morning at the Altek Media studio located at 21803 Cactus Ave, Suite G in Riverside at 8 am.
1MC was started at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City to connect what was, at the time, a fragmented, isolated startup community. The name came out of one simple question, “Could we change the face of our startup community by connecting local entrepreneurs over 1 Million Cups of coffee?”
This is a local weekly program that gives two startups the opportunity to give a 6-minute presentation and engage in 20 minutes of Q&A with a room full of their peers, mentors, service providers, and potential investors. It’s a supportive, neutral event that provides brainstorming, connections, feedback and exposure to our local startup community.
1MC is created of, by, and for entrepreneurs. Each local event is organized by local entrepreneurs who volunteer their time to recruit a location and coffee sponsor, vet and select presenters, and publicize the event. The event organizers in Riverside County are Jay Goth of InSoCal Connect, TriTech SBDC and JET Recycling America, Inc., Ralph Richardson of Riverside.io, Tribal Wellness and Maven 2.0, Dione Moser of Impact Design and the Coworking Connection, and Dwayne Nelson of ClusteRSS.
“When I attended the 1MC event in Irvine, I immediately realized that we needed this kind of great networking and brainstorming meeting in our area,” Jay Goth says. “The feeling that you get of support and the ideas that are generated are just what an entrepreneur needs. You know you aren’t alone, you can share your challenges and frustrations, and together we figure things out and build better companies.”
As opposed to a traditional “pitch” environment, 1MC was not created to be critical of entrepreneurs, but rather to learn from shared experiences and find ways to support one another as a community. It is an educational experience for both the audience and the presenters. Presenters are given resources and support to prepare for their presentation and surveyed after their presentation to see what they’ve learned.
The Riverside organization is taking the 1MC concept to a new level by holding the events at Altek Media Group’s video production studios. The six minute presentations and the 20 minute Q&A sessions are recorded on video and streamed live to the Internet on the group’s website, www.riverside.sites.1millioncups.com. This way if people would like to see the presentation but have a scheduling problem, they can watch the event live from their computer every Wednesday morning. The entire presentation and Q&A session for each company is also available on demand at the archive site www.connecttube.org.
Additionally, each presenter is given a professionally produced version of their presentation that they can place on their own website. A copy is also provided to each company’s host city if they would like to spotlight a local startup story. The Riverside 1MC group is working to make sure that a national audience of startups, entrepreneurs, educators, mentors, and investors learns about this new program and begins tuning in.
The event is sponsored by InSoCal CONNECT, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the Innovation Economy in inland Southern California. It is also sponsored by Riverside.io and the Coworking Connection. The first event was held on October 8, 2014 and will be held every Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Pacific time, excluding holidays. Companies wishing to present and people who would like to attend are encouraged to visit the site at www.1millioncups.com.