Today is a very exciting day for the 1 Million Cups program. We are three quarters of the way to our goal of twenty U.S. cities by then end of 2013. But more importantly, the debut launch of 1MC Orlando and San Diego demonstrates the power of collaboration at the grassroots level.
We intentionally paired Orlando and San Diego together as sister cities because of similarities in their startup community dynamics. San Diego and Orlando have specific assets and challenges they face due to: leadership, specialized intermediaries, network density, local/state government, talent, support services, opportunities for engagement and capital. So we paired the two communities together to work closely while launching this educational program for their local entrepreneurs.
In Orlando, entrepreneurs, innovators, funders and interested community members will meet at 9 a.m. each Wednesday at Starter Studio in the GAI Building, 618 E. South St. downtown. Presenting the first week will be G.I. Money, a startup that provides high-level educational media for members of the military and their families. In San Diego, 1 Million Cups will convene downtown at Co-Merge Workplace, 330 A St. Suite 102. First-week presenters there will be FITzee Foods, which delivers healthy meals and snacks, and The 1:1 Movement, a nonprofit that teaches K-12 students about environmental consumption issues.
The part that I find amazing is, all of the sudden, two communities that wouldn’t otherwise be working together are now collaborating on a weekly basis. On opposite sides of the country no less. Maybe I’m easily wowed, but I find that pretty incredible. 1 Million Cups is designed to complement the existing programs that support startup communities, and to elevate the local startup community on a national platform.
1 Million Cups is a weekly event run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs all around the world. At its most basic level, the weekly program will begin to knit a social fabric between entrepreneurs. As we are an industry-agnostic program, we create the meeting place for founders of many different types of companies.
1 Million Cups offers an opportunity that other localized events can’t offer— connection to a growing national community linked by an infrastructure that will showcase local entrepreneurs and community on a global level. All too often, there is no way to see what is going on in startup communities around the country. We know that great ideas live everywhere, so 1 Million Cups provides a platform to showcase communities of entrepreneurs to the rest of the world.
Moreover, the culture surrounding 1 Million Cups is that of a supportive, neutral space that welcomes entrepreneurs to be open and honest about their businesses. 1 Million Cups was not created to be critical of entrepreneurs, rather to learn from one another’s experiences, to understand that starting a business is extremely challenging, and that together we can support one another. The culture should reflect an attitude of togetherness, and this culture develops organically over time, but starts even before the launch.