How to Organize 1 Million Cups in Smaller Cities: Lessons Learned from Georgetown, Delaware

In this 1 Million Cups Series, I will be highlighting 1 Million Cups (1MC) cities across America to learn how their 1MC operates, and provides support for entrepreneurs and their respective startup communities. In this city spotlight, I find out what’s brewing in Georgetown, Delaware.

Photo courtesy of 1MC Delaware via Twitter

I recently had the chance to interview Christopher Moody, a community organizer for 1MC - Georgetown. Christopher first learned about 1MC by attending it during Kauffman FastTrac facilitator training in Kansas City. He saw the immediate fit for his community and launched 1MC Georgetown in the summer of 2013. This was the 10th community to launch the 1MC program.

Christopher, who is the Director of Workforce Development at Delaware Technical Community College, saw that Delaware was focusing on startups and supporting them, but also needed a new platform to do so. Ever since the introduction of 1MC, the community has been all over it. Even in the small town of Georgetown, population 6,766, 1MC draws an average audience of 23 people per week. Georgetown is fortunately situated in the center of the county and draws an audience from across the state.

1MC Georgetown is hosted at the Delaware Technical Community College. Christopher noted that 1MC is interwoven throughout the college to a point that, “you can’t go throughout the campus and find someone who doesn’t know what it is.”  The college offers audio and visual support, a great stage, and has brought in students from entrepreneurship classes to learn from the presenting companies.

Find out what keeps entrepreneurs caffeinated in Georgetown in the transcript, lightly edited for clarity, of my interview with Christopher Moody:

What have you learned from being an organizer?

It’s a lot of work. The first thing is that it’s validated my thoughts on the value of establishing and maintaining relationships in a community. When a presenter, either later or earlier stage gets brutally honest feedback, it’s rewarding to see the synergy that comes from the audience and the entrepreneur.

We learned that it can be very valuable for businesses that are 4 or 5 years old and are pivoting. We had to experiment and work through the kinks, but decided to let 5 year old businesses present, if they were diversifying their product, trying a new market or business model. We learned two things from this: one, there’s a lot for the audience to learn from these older businesses about the problems that come up in 5 years. Two, there’s a lot of insight for the older business to learn from and gain the perspective of younger entrepreneurs.

What is your favorite part of 1 Million Cups?

Networking. I truly look forward to seeing the connections that are being made, seeing entrepreneurs connect and bring each other business.

Giving people the venue to share their business. Lots of entrepreneurs say that they can’t talk about their business in front of people and this gives them an opportunity to present their business to a welcoming audience.

How has your program developed over time? 

Further connecting with the community of Georgetown. The local chamber of commerce sponsors the coffee every week, they have been a great partner to work with.  We do announcements, or as I like to call it, halftime, between the two presenters to inform everyone of upcoming entrepreneurial events.

We engage the audience more. Every once in a while I select people who come every Wednesday to introduce the first speaker to keep changing things up, and people like that. To increase the reach of the program, I give attendees “homework,” such as giving out t-shirts to people who bringing friends. Finally, students from Entrepreneurship classes at the community college attend and question the presenting entrepreneurs at 1MC.

Are there any other events/organizations that collaborate with your 1 Million Cups

Yes. We collaborate with the Today and Tomorrow County conference, which is held annually to bring economic development, legislators and business leaders together. Every October around 400 people show up for the conference. Last year we incorporated 1MC into the conference on Wednesday morning and it was everyone’s favorite session of the conference [learned from surveys].

Check out the first post of the series on the evolution of 1 Million Cups.

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