I attended my very first 1 Million Cups event at the Kauffman Foundation last week. I am embarrassed to admit, it's been on my calendar for a year. I finally made the commitment to go--and oh boy, was it worth it!
1 Million Cups is based on the idea that entrepreneurs can network over a million cups of coffee (the coffee served at this event is delicious by the way--you may want to drink one million cups and rocket yourself straight through the roof afterwards with all the energy generated in this place). 1 Million Cups is a free program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their communities. The format is casual and the dress is pretty casual too. Sure, there are some folks in suits, but there were plenty of jeans in the crowd, so I didn't feel too out of place in my mom-jeans.
During the one-hour event every Wednesday morning one or two companies spend 30-minutes each presenting their businesses. Each founder presents for six minutes, followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer session with the audience. The question and answer piece was my favorite part, each inquiry made me think about our business and consider new ways to make Comfy Cup even better. After the presentations, everyone mingles and finishes their coffee. During this time, I was able to connect with Matt Dantzler. Matt is a "caffeinator"--someone who is a frequent attender of 1 Million Cups and knows who's who among the audience. He gave me suggestions of organizations and people who I could connect with that might be able to support the Comfy Cup. Matt also agreed to meet with Kyler and me one-on-one to discuss the Comfy Cup.
This Friday, Kyler was out of school for Parent-Teacher Conferences, so we met Matt at his office at WeWork. WeWork is a shared work space with a dynamic environment that inspires creativity, focus, and connection.
As Kyler and I waited in the modern and cozy open work space, we were both excited by the palpable energy among the entrepreneurs working amidst us. We sure felt more business-like in this office compared to our home office. We perused through the Harvard Business Review together, and were interested to see that many of the top CEOs in the world in-fact do not have MBAs. Actually, many are engineers. (Very encouraging for Kyler who is an aspiring engineer).
Matt Dantzler, VP of sales at Illumisoft, and Tyler Prince, a 1 Million Cups Organizer and fellow entrepreneur, met with us in a bright and quiet meeting space at WeWork. Both Matt and Tyler took time to listen to Kyler and me talk about Comfy Cup. Then they shared their insights and areas of expertise. They gave us great suggestions about places to start networking and ways we can continue to grow Comfy Cup. After our meeting, Matt gave us a tour of the awesome WeWork space which includes a great view of downtown Kansas City. We feel so grateful for this opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and business professionals in our community. We look forward to more meetings with Matt and Tyler and connecting with other inventors and entrepreneurs in Kansas City.