1 Million Cups - Mankato
As published in MN Valley Business journal
Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee, the Kauffman Foundation brought to life the 1 Million Cups program in 2012. What started as a small gathering in Kansas City, grew into a movement of more than 100 locations nation-wide. 1MC is a non-profit program created to give aspiring entrepreneurs, or anyone with a business idea, a space to pitch that their vision. At the end of every presentation, the entrepreneur engages in an open panel with the audience, getting real feedback and connecting with vital resources to take their ideas to the next level.
Recently, Mankato has seen a rise in entrepreneurial activity and start-ups. Seeing a need, Minnesota State University, Mankato College of Business Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship sought to bring 1MC to its community.
According to research done by the Kauffman Foundation, to foster an entrepreneurial community, certain elements must exist. Some of the ingredients that shape this ecosystem include philanthropists that are willing to guide rising entrepreneurs, an incubator hub, and an attractive geographical location surrounded by other business and corporations. Hence, more than 12 business and community leaders got together to serve on the 1MC Community Organizers group, bringing the first 1MC gathering in November 2017 to Mankato. The CIE serves as the ideal space to nurture innovative thinking and ideas; paired with its location in downtown Mankato, it’s surrounded by locally owned businesses fueled by creative owners and operators, adding to the synergy of the community.
1MC acts as a platform that helps connect thousands of creators, doers and dreamers. It encourages aspiration and ambition. The movement begins to connect us with communities that are also supporting entrepreneurs. “We’re helping develop a community of student entrepreneurs; what makes us stand out from the rest (1Million Cups communities) is we aspire to have one student entrepreneur and one entrepreneur from the community,” said Yvonne Cariveau, director for Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
“That’s what building the ecosystem is all about, helping people find each other to make their ideas happen. At the end of each 1MC meet up, someone from the community will wrap up by asking “what can the community do for you?” One person from the audience could connect the entrepreneur with someone from his network, another attendee could point him to resources that would help the entrepreneur… it’s a great way to start your Wednesday, because when you walk into the room, you’re filled with the positive energy. It pumps you up for the rest of the week!” she added.
1MC takes place every first Wednesday of every month, from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at the CIE, 424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato.