Organizers of a new monthly entrepreneurial event want to create a startup culture in Jefferson City.
Monthly meetings of 1 Million Cups Jefferson City will begin in October on the Lincoln University campus. The group aims to connect and educate entrepreneurs about their community's opportunities.
The Kaufman Foundation created 1 Million Cups in 2012 to allow entrepreneurs to network with each other over coffee. The free sessions typically last 1-2 hours and are designed to give entrepreneurs feedback about what they can improve.
Missy Creed owns Dogwood Social, which serves local companies and helps them with digital marketing. Her company will celebrate its two-year anniversary in October. Creed started her business after seeing local businesses weren't taking advantage of social media to market themselves.
When Creed built her company, she didn't have a network of local entrepreneurs, which can be vital to building startups. By helping organize 1 Million Cups Jefferson City, she wants to create those networks for other entrepreneurs.
"I honestly did not have anybody here," Creed said. "I did use the MU Extension, but I didn't have any peers."
Creed said seven local entrepreneurs, including her, are helping organize the local chapter of 1 Million Cups. After its launch, the organization grew from only two chapters in Kansas City and Des Moines to chapters in 145 communities.
Since 2013, 1 Million Cups' Columbia chapter has met at the Innovation Hub at 500 E. Walnut St. in Columbia. The national arm of the group also holds a pitch competition that gives away thousands of dollars in seed money each year.
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The first 1 Million Cups Jefferson City event will take place 9-10 a.m. Wednesday in room 116 of The Linc wellness center on the Lincoln University campus. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. and remain open until 10:30 a.m. to allow entrepreneurs to network for 30 minutes before and after the event begins. The local 1 Million Cups chapter will meet the first Wednesday of every month.
Three Story Coffee will sponsor the coffee at each event in October, November and December. The organization is also looking for other event sponsors.
Creed said the goal is simply to brainstorm and give would-be small business owners feedback about their ideas.
"The event is to allow startups to share their stories," Creed said. "It's not a pitch."
Two entrepreneurs per month will present their idea and talk about themselves for six minutes each, with 20 minutes saved for a question-and-answer session after each presentation.
"The speakers are coached to ask for something from the community to get them to the next step," Creed said.
Entrepreneurs interested in presenting can visit 1millioncups.com/jeffcity to apply.