4 Years Strong and 1 Million Cups Continues to Inspire

In 2012, The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri introduced the first 1 Million Cups program. Their mission was to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their community and resources. In 2013, St. Louis added the event to their entrepreneurial activities.

An entrepreneur myself, I first attended the event December 2014 and attended their 2nd anniversary in 2015 (read my experience here). Now, 2 years later, I have returned from their 4th anniversary with equal inspiration, motivation, and insight.

Similar to their 2nd anniversary, the St. Louis 1 Million Cups invited past presenters back for a session on what they learned, highs and lows, and advice.

When asked how their original 1MC presentation made a difference, the common reply was the unexpected reach their video provided them, archived on the 1MC site. Secondly, their presentation validated their credibility and presence in the entrepreneurial environments.

The advice shared remains consistent from 2015 with some extra considerations:

  • Be persistent; stick to your values and your vision
  • Be humble
  • Maintain your focus; life will be easier!
  • Keep getting out there; entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the phone or their devices. There is great value in meeting others, getting involved, and reaching out.
  • Surround yourself with a dedicated team
  • Be careful who you trust; not everyone will share your values and may sabotage your efforts
  • You know your business best; stick with your vision to avoid straying too far from it.
  • Apply advice with caution; while peers’ advice is well-meaning, it isn’t always the best advice. Remember that you won’t be able to please everyone.
  • If you build it, they will come; while this is the ‘dream’, it isn’t reality. Apply the wisdom above to attract the audience you desire.

When asked what fears they overcame, here are the replies:

Connie Fry of Pony Pizza Company

  • I dealt with a bug infestation in my product. It was devastating but I regrouped and overcame that issue.

Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom

  • I have a fear of failing so it’s the driving force that keeps me moving forward.

Nick Szabo of Get Swizzle

  • Becoming a new parent and startup founder was frightening. I struggled with how to take care of both simultaneously and emerged with extreme time-management skills.

Ali Ahmadi of AirZaar

  • Quitting my corporate job and the financial burden created fear for me. Also a new father, it was my child that got me through the emotional and mental turmoil.

Andrew Glantz of Gift a Meal

  • I feared my youth would be a deterrent; not having enough experience, not being taken seriously, and letting them down troubled me, but instead became the driving force to accomplish my vision.

Rob Rose of SaniTrace

  • I didn’t know anything about the food market or running a business. I taught myself while building and promoting my business.

In the short time since these entrepreneurs presented at 1MC, they have experienced growth personally and professionally. Ari Ahmadi summarized entrepreneurship best:

“Starting a business is miserable. Get up, get out and learn.”

The presenters, the audience, and I agree with his sentiments. We also agree that there is no greater satisfaction than to know we are helping to solve a problem in the world.

What problem will you solve?
Kristen Edens

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