Rivals No More! Lawrence, Columbia Launch Kauffman Foundation's 1 Million Cups to Spur Bi-State Entrepreneurship

Newest additions expand 1 Million Cups network to 12 locations nationwide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 5, 2013) – When Lawrence, Kan., and Columbia, Mo., are mentioned in the same sentence, it's often in reference to the longstanding rivalry between the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri. This time, however, a joint announcement from the two cities is intended to build support for entrepreneurs throughout the bi-state region.

1 Million Cups™, a program created by the Kauffman Foundation's Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, will launch in both Lawrence and Columbia on Aug. 7. The cities bring to 12 the number of locations nationally hosting the weekly gathering that is building startup communities over cups of coffee and conversation across the country. The two college towns also are the fourth and fifth 1 Million Cups cities located along the Interstate 70 corridor, linking St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver.

1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, the hometown of the Kauffman Foundation. On pace to expand to 20 cities by the end of 2013, 1 Million Cups' program leaders plan to have at least one international city in the mix by year's end.

The program's model is consistent in each location. Each Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., two early-stage startups present their companies to an audience of local mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes and then fields audience questions for 20 minutes. The program is run by local entrepreneurs who serve as community organizers.

In Lawrence, entrepreneurs, innovators, and interested community members will meet at 9 a.m. each Wednesday at Cider Gallery at 810 Pennsylvania St. The first week's presenters will be new internet radio station LawrenceHits.com and Rainbow International Restoration, a 24/7 emergency services company.

In Columbia, 1 Million Cups will convene at Regional Economic Development Inc., 500 E. Walnut St., Suite 102. First-week presenters there will be Baka Specialties, producer of Easy Digging specialty gardening tools, and Wheelchair Personalities, which markets decorated wheelchair-back covers.

Nate Olson, a Kauffman Foundation associate and leader of 1 Million Cups, said it was a strategic move to introduce 1 Million Cups in Lawrence and Columbia on the same day. "Today's announcement is all about collaboration," he explained. "The entrepreneurs in both cities recognize there is tremendous opportunity to share ideas across our entire region, build networks of professional and personal support, and make the Midwest a recognized hub of entrepreneurial success."

Lawrence and Columbia join Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; Houston; St. Louis; Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Iowa; Reno, Nev.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Denver; Chapel Hill/Research Triangle Park, N.C.; and Georgetown, Del., in offering 1 Million Cups locally. The next cities slated to launch 1 Million Cups are Orlando, Fla., and San Diego in September.

View the national website at www.1millioncups.com. Access the Lawrence and Columbia microsites at http://lawrence.sites.1millioncups.com and http://como.sites.1millioncups.com. Follow the conversation at @1millioncups on Twitter.