If the standing room-only crowd was any indication, there's plenty of interest among Colorado Springs business people who want to share ideas about entrepreneurial successes and failures.
Nearly 40 people crowded into a room Wednesday in the former Ivywild Elementary School on South Cascade Avenue to learn about the effort to launch 1 Million Cups - a weekly educational program for entrepreneurs - in Colorado Springs. The first event will take place Sept. 24 during Colorado Springs Startup Week.
Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC events allow entrepreneurs to present startups to their communities and troubleshoot with local businesspeople. The events take place at 9 a.m. each Wednesday in nearly 40 cities nationwide.
"Every startup faces obstacles, but getting people who have been in business to know they're out there and to ask questions that sharpen judgment or discernment surrounding their business is part of the key," said Joseph Coleman, local restaurant owner and one of the event organizers.
Maria Feekes, vice president of operations for See the Change USA, and Lisa Tessarowicz, co-founder of Epicentral Coworking, also helped organize Wednesday's meeting.
The first 1MC event in Colorado Springs had been scheduled for mid-April, but Tessarowicz, one of the original organizers, said it was somewhat difficult to plan and promote.
"Finding the right organizers with enough bandwidth to actually organize was a challenge," she said.
An additional two months allowed Tessarowicz and others to build interest in the program and plan a series of informational meetings leading up to the September launch. Two more meetings will be held July 30 and Aug. 27, and Tessarowicz said they might bring in a presenter next month to give attendees an idea of what to expect at the events.
To illustrate the national scope of the 1MC program, the organizers used FaceTime to connect with Jon Walters, a 1MC organizer in Fargo, N.D. That city, which held its first 1MC event in January, has seen tremendous growth in its program in recent months. About 30 people attended the first 1MC event; now, more than 175 people show up each week, Walters said.
"It has been amazing to see how our community has reacted to 1 Million Cups," he said. "They love networking and meeting people in a nonthreatening environment."
Since launching in Kansas City, Mo., in April 2012, 1 Million Cups has spread to 39 cities and enabled more than 2,300 people to present startups to their communities. At each event, two presenters speak for six minutes each and engage in a 20-minute discussion with their audience.
"The more we depend on our community for feedback, the stronger our businesses will be and the stronger we will be as a community for sharing those experiences," Tessarowicz said.
Contact Katherine Blunt: 636-0275