Startup Community Revolution: Caffeinating Communities

(Guest post by Nate Olson) This morning was a whirlwind. At 11:00 a.m. CST I joined a Google Hangout with a coffee shop full of smiling entrepreneurs in Reno, Nev., who were launching their very first 1 Million Cups. As I saw the excitement in this room packed with 50 or so entrepreneurs, I was

Editor’s Note: In conjunction today with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation‘s release of its 1 Million Cups research paper, Nate Olson, the weekly event’s co-founder, offered to provide a guest post on the topic.

About the author: Nate Olson (below) is a specialist in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, where his focus is building dynamic and diverse startup communities.


This morning was a whirlwind. At 11:00 a.m. CST I joined a Google Hangout with a coffee shop full of smiling entrepreneurs in Reno, Nev., who were launching their very first 1 Million Cups. As I saw the excitement in this room packed with 50 or so entrepreneurs, I was overcome with joy. This joy comes from the realization that we are on the brink of a startup community revolution – entrepreneurs reaching out to local peers and other startup supporters for feedback, advice and solutions to concerns about their business, and the community rallying behind local startups asking, “What can we do to support you?”

For 11 months now, the Kansas City community has come together on a weekly basis to support two local startups through the Kauffman Labs‘ 1 Million Cups entrepreneur education program. It has been my responsibility and profound pleasure to develop and lead the effort in scaling 1MC to other communities around the country. From what started with a dozen people at our first meeting to about 400 people meeting across six cities this morning, I’m amazed by how far we have come in just under one year.

Because 1MC is a Kauffman Foundation program, one of our goals is to study it from every angle so we can share lessons with others interested in building entrepreneur-led startup communities. Today we released findings of a survey of 1MC participants conducted last fall that captured information about the growth in the earliest stages of the program. Who attended? How did they hear about 1MC? How often did they come, and what did they want to get out of it?

We learned that participants attend often and keep coming back. I know that’s true because I still see those first attendees here on Wednesday mornings. We also learned that, at least in those early months of 1MC, participants heard about the program primarily by word of mouth from people they know. That’s not surprising. The entrepreneurs I know are wired to network. It’s in their DNA. You will find the full report, the first in what will become a series of studies, and see an interactive visualization of some of the data at kauffman.org.

It is exciting to see what we’ve learned from our first six months in action, and we will continue to share lessons as we go. Success for 1MC is based on the repetitive and ongoing education of entrepreneurs that will aid in building great companies, a strong community and better lifetime entrepreneurs.

Thanks for supporting your local entrepreneurs!

 

 

Credits: Photo courtesy of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


About the author: Nate Olson is a specialist in entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where his focus is building dynamic and diverse startup communities. The co-founder of 1 Million Cups, a weekly educational program designed to engage, educate, and accelerate startup communities, Olson now leads the effort to grow 1 Million Cups into a national program for the Foundation.

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