The nationwide 1 Million Cups initiative founded by the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City has caffeinated a local entrepreneurial drive with the help of Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center.
The weekly gatherings of aspiring entrepreneurs and budding small business owners at the Venture Center over the past year have provided the place to talk all things business in the Fox Valley.
“We’ve built an informal, collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem through one million cups where small business professionals can tap one another for best practices and all kinds of useful advice,” notes Amy Pietsch, director of FVTC’s Venture Center.
The 1 Million Cups movement was established in 2015 to provide a simple format to engage entrepreneurs in communities around the world. The one-hour event includes a weekly presentation by a new or well-established entrepreneur, followed by feedback and questioning from guests. Most participants leave each session empowered with greater tools in marketing, financing, public relations, web development, resource awareness and access, and more.
The Venture Center, along with support from the college’s Business division, Copper Rock, and the New North, established Appleton with the designation of the 76th municipality nationwide in becoming a “I Million Cups” city in October 2015.
Pietsch added that the weekly networking opportunities bring out the best in crowdsourcing. “Essentially, we’ve created a weekly hub that is proactively dedicated to economic development for entrepreneurs. It’s morphed into kind of club where new faces come regularly to share their small business passion with others. You can’t get this kind of real-world knowledge about business start-up and growth anywhere else.”
During the inaugural year, nearly 50 local and statewide entrepreneurs representing more than a dozen industries presented their products, services, successes, and growing pains to around 700 people. Joseph Connelly, owner of Edficiency LLC—a web-based scheduling system designed to better connect learners and teachers in K-12 schools, commemorated Appleton’s 1 Million Cups event as the featured presenter.
The Appleton 1 Million Cups events are free, open to the public, and held each Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m. in room C190 inside entrance 15 at FVTC’s Appleton campus. Starting in 2017, the sessions will return to their original location at the Venture Center inside FVTC’s D.J. Bordini Center at 5 Systems Drive in Appleton.
No registration is required to attend. To learn more, visit www.fvtc.edu/venturecenter.