Grab Some High-Octane, Fully Caffeinated Small Biz Inspiration

StLouisYou have to love it when two of your favorite things in the world come together, and for many of us that’s exactly what’s happening with’s “1 Million Cups” program.

Entrepreneurs come together every Wednesday in locations all around the country—often coffee shops—to have a cup of java and talk about their projects. (Okay, now that I think about it, this may combine three of our favorite things: entrepreneurship, coffee and talking!)

A moveable brainstorm
Let me be a little more specific about the talking part. Each week two local entrepreneurs give a 20-minute presentation about what they are doing. They then engage with the group, fielding questions, listening to suggestions and generally brainstorming.
Of course, in arenas like this, it’s also very possible to find areas of overlap, places where one startup can help another. You might think of 1 Million Cups as sort of a mini-coworking setup. Cross fertilization between small businesses can yield great results. When two or more innovative startups get together, the sum of the whole is often greater than the individual pieces.

The groups meet on Wednesday from 9-10 a.m. It’s just an hour, but when you factor in the caffeine and the energy entrepreneurs bring to the table, a lot can be accomplished in just 60 minutes.

Find a meeting
Check out their map of locations, and you’ll see that the project stretches from coast to coast. Many of you should be able to find a nearby meeting.

Local groups are pretty autonomous. The concept, organization and materials were developed by the Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation. Local organizers enlist in the program, receive support—materials and coaching—from Kauffman Labs and then make it happen in their own cities and towns.

Once local organizers are ready, they scout venues, find sponsors, bring in others, build the buzz, source the coffee, manage the web presence and more. Local organizers also enjoy subsidized trips to Kansas City periodically to attend organizer summits.

Start a meeting
If you’re in the startup mode, or have an idea you would like to take to the next level, I encourage you to find a 1 Million Cups meeting and go ASAP. There’s a very good chance you will meet the people you need to know to network in your city. And through those relationships, you may get the ideas that it takes to assure the success of your small business.

And if your town isn’t yet on the 1 Million Cups map, give some thought to offering yourself as a local organizer.

Sponsored by AT&T