By Will Davidson, Richland Northeast HS (Columbia, South Carolina)
1 Million Cups is a national organization that promotes entrepreneurs to educate, connect, and engage with other entrepreneurs. They meet every Wednesday morning. Meeting are open to the public to come in and listen to the entrepreneurs talk and sell their company for 6 minutes. After the six minutes, participants engage in a 20-minute question and answer session. In the words of John Wilkinson, a co-organizer of 1 Million Cups, “1MC exists to help support, connect and grow the entrepreneurial community.”
1 Million Cups was created by the Kauffman Foundation, and they hosted the first 1 Million Cups in Kansas City in April of 2012. Gradually more and more cities joined in October of 2016 there were 100 communities actively participating in 1 Million Cups.
In 2014 Tia Williams founded the Columbia chapter of 1 Million Cups. Ever since then, every wednesday morning there has been a 1 Million Cups meeting. The first meeting was on March 26th, 2014 where they hosted 52 Apps and IMCS LLC (Integrated micro-chromatography systems). They have hosted 204 different companies. Some of these include big local business such as Freeway Music, Capital Angels, and the Richland Library.
More recently, Richland Library became the host of 1 Million Cups meetings. In an article written by the Richland Library, Agata Chydzinski co-organizer of 1 Million Cups in Columbia, said “We were simply blown away by the depth of resources available to people that are right under our noses at the library. This new renovation that is taking place is reshaping the library as a real space for innovators. We’re certain this is going to help spark new entrepreneurial energy in our city.”
1 Million Cups has locations all over the United States. Some of these in South Carolina include Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, and York County.
1 Million Cups offers a contest called 1 in a Million. 1 in a Million is a competition where presenters across the country present and they are narrowed down to 1. The winners are chosen by a lot of different judges inside of 1 Million cups. The winner of 1 in a Million gets $25,000, a trophy, an all expenses paid trip to the annual Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum & Entrepreneur of the year awards in Palm Desert, California. For the runners up there is an all expenses paid trip to the 2017 Entrepreneurship Address, and ESHIP Summit.
1 Million Cups plans to continue to help many entrepreneurs across the nation with 103 communities and counting. As the executive director Melanie Huggins said in an interview “Richland Library looks forward to welcoming 1 Million Cups to our Main location each week and continuing to nurture a culture of learning, creating and sharing.”