“Welcome to Kansas City: Home of the Chiefs, tasty BBQ, and the Kauffman Foundation.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the Kauffman Foundation, here’s some insight: Mr. K was a highly admired and highly successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur in the mid-60’s. So successful, in fact, that he created The Kauffman Foundation – an organization with ‘a mission to help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success.’
With an asset base of approximately $2 billion, this non-profit is now among the largest private foundations in the United States.
The foundation works to achieve its mission through several programs. One nationwide initiative, 1 Million Cups, aims to bring entrepreneurial communities together every week (or month), to create a space for new entrepreneurs to pitch their business and receive real-time feedback from audience members. Through the power of volunteers, 1 Million Cups (1MC) has grown to more than 180 communities. 1MC launched in Philly last summer, thanks to the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department.
The City of Philadelphia and many passionate individuals in the Philly startup ecosystem were eager to support the program and jumped at the opportunity to volunteer on the organizing committee. Like 1MC, we all share a belief in the fundamental right to turn an idea into economic reality, regardless of who you are or where you’re from.
After a few months of 1MC events in Philly, the Kauffman Foundation HQ was hosting their annual 1MC Organizers’ Summit in Kansas City, and as PSL’s Head of Programs, I was offered the opportunity to attend. The conference created a space for 180+ organizing volunteers across the country a chance to meet in person, talk about their entrepreneurial communities, share triumphs, share struggles and create forward-thinking strategies to make our respective communities stronger, more inclusive and more successful.
The goal of the Summit was to listen, learn, and teach; to see where Philly falls on a national scale. I heard stories from small rural towns in Washington state that are just starting to create an entrepreneurship community out of coffee shop get-togethers; to stories from Fargo, ND where 500 people gather each week to show their support for rising entrepreneurs. 1MC organizers were prompted to use their experience to create playbooks to make 1MC as inspirational, educational and impactful as possible. It was an eye-opening experience to compare and contrast what Philadelphia has built over the last decade to other cities and towns across the country.
What set Philadelphia apart from most of these other places? Without hesitation: the foundation of our thriving startup ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and exposes them to new resources every day.
Philly Startup Leaders is excited to share that we are the new lead organizer for the Philadelphia Chapter of 1 Million Cups. With support from the organizing committee: representatives from Startup PHL, Drexel University, PromptWorks, Comcast, La Colombe, Cooley LLC. and Switchboard Live; each month, Philadelphia’s startup ecosystem will convene to provide real-time and genuine feedback to the emerging entrepreneurs who need it most.
Why Philly Startup Leaders? PSL is considered the entry point for entrepreneurs or individuals looking to get started. We help people navigate the startup ecosystem, refer them to events and programs (our own and others), and introduce them to experienced founders who are looking to give back. We build the PSL network through emails, phone calls, PSL slack channels, the PSL Talk google group, and coffee meetings. Lots and lots of coffee meetings. What we do every day to promote and catalyze entrepreneurship in Philadelphia naturally aligns with 1MC.
The goal of 1MC is not just to add another event to your calendar, but to foster a supportive, consistent, learning community of entrepreneurs and the people that support them. Whether you are an experienced founder, a service provider, an investor, a government official, a university representative or a member of the media, these new entrepreneurs need your support and feedback.
As the lead organizer for 1MC Philadelphia moving forward, we hope to magnify the entry point into the startup ecosystem, and along with our partners, offer an in-person welcome to new entrepreneurs seeking the ever-growing and thriving Philly startup community. Stay tuned for our next 1MC event by following (@1MillionCupsPHL) on Twitter and visiting the 1MC Philadelphia website.
See you there!
Written by Jaclyn Allen, Head of Programs, Philly Startup Leaders