Kansas City community organizer chosen as international startup mentor

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Kyle Smith, Communications Coordinator at KCSourcelink and 1 Million Cups Organizer. Photo Credit: Nicole Bissey.

A Kansas City, Missouri resident and startup ecosystem expert has been selected to serve as a mentor to international startup community organizers at the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Congress next month in Istanbul.

The Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers and support organizations from more than 170 countries.

Kyle Smith, Communications Coordinator at KCSourcelink and 1 Million Cups Organizer, is one of six experts throughout the U.S. who will train organizers of Startup Huddle, a new program intended to help entrepreneurs around the world thrive by strengthening their local support networks.

Startup Huddle was launched by the Global Entrepreneurship Network in 2017 and currently has locations in 19 cities including Amman, Johannesburg, Moscow, Riyadh, Toronto and Taiwan.

“Startup Huddle is the international version of 1 Million Cups,” said Smith. “After the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, we’re going to be introducing the idea of Startup Huddle to everyone in attendance, which is a big part of our role as Startup Huddle ambassadors.”

Smith was selected for his experience as a Kansas City organizer for 1 Million Cups, a Kauffman program in more than 160 U.S. communities, based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.

Smith grew up in small-town Mexico, Missouri, and moved to New York for four years before deciding he wanted to live somewhere in between the two extremes. He checked out Kansas City because it was close to home and a known startup hub. Once there, his own journey in the Kansas City startup scene started at a 1 Million Cups meeting.

“I’ve experienced firsthand the power of 1 Million Cups to supercharge entrepreneurs, build meaningful relationships and open doors,” said Smith. “1 Million Cups is the front porch to Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community.”

Smith eventually found his way to KCSourceLink, an organization that acts as a hub for nonprofit entrepreneurial resources around Kansas City.

“Our bird’s-eye view of entrepreneurship in Kansas City allows us to do a lot of facilitation in the ecosystem, and also conduct research in Kansas City’s progress towards becoming the most entrepreneurial city in America,” said Smith.

Smith will also bring his experiences back from Istanbul and share it with both Kansas City-area entrepreneurs, as well as entrepreneurs and champions around the Midwest. Smith and the other startup champions will present their experiences at a special 1 Million Cups event during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November.

“I’m very excited to go into communities that we only hear about in the news when something bad is going on,” said Smith. “I’ll get to build something with their entrepreneurs and learn what the people are really like. I have to imagine that we’re going to have a lot more in common as entrepreneurial communities than not. I’m excited to bring those stories back to the Midwest.”

In preparation for his trip, Smith is collecting success stories from 1 Million Cups alumni so he can show the Startup Huddle group in Turkey what they have to gain by implementing the program.

“Across the globe, communities can begin to corral their entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial supporters and cheerleaders, and build their ecosystem from there,” said Smith. “I am honored to get to share this magic with the world.”

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Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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