A new year, a new format for 1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids

As one of the oldest 1 Million Cups chapters in the U.S., we’ve experimented with a variety of approaches to our mission of helping educate and grow Eastern Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Going into 2019, the team that runs the Cedar Rapids program has some exciting new changes planned.

One big change we’re making is to make it easier to access during your busy day. We’ve moved the schedule up slightly: starting January 9th, 1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids will start at 8:15 a.m., with the program ending by 9:15 a.m. The location remains the same, at the Geonetric building — 415 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.

The biggest change for 2019 is that we’re creating a rotating set of formats with slightly different application processes for each.

The new formats are:


Entrepreneurs presenting on a specific challenge

One entrepreneur presenting her/his business with a specific challenge they’re dealing with to a panel of experts selected to give them feedback, publicly, in front of an audience. The audience will also have time at the end to ask questions or provide feedback and meet the presenters. The presentation is limited to six minutes in length; the feedback and Q&A is usually about 30 minutes.

Presenters must be the company owner or founder, and the company should be less than three years old. You’ll be required to share your presentation ahead of time and go through presentation coaching with our team.

Established companies dealing with an innovation challenge

Established companies — companies that are three or more years old — that are presenting their business with a specific challenge related to innovation or a new product that they’re developing. A panel of experts will be selected to give them feedback, publicly, in front of an audience. The audience will also have time at the end to ask questions or provide feedback, and to meet the presenters. The presentation is limited to six minutes in length; the feedback and Q&A is usually about 30 minutes.

The presenter must be the individual directly responsible for the challenge that’s being dealt with and is usually an executive within the company. You’ll be required to share your presentation ahead of time and go through presentation coaching with our team.

Experts on topics important to entrepreneurs

Experts in our community, presenting on specific topics pertinent to startups, small businesses, and growing companies. These are actionable, important, and focused topics, from vetted experts in their fields. We’re aiming for topics that our community is asking for, so feel free to propose a topic or nominate an expert at the link below. The presentation / workshop is typically around 30–40 minutes in length.

The presenter must be the subject matter expert themselves (not a sales person for a company with that expertise), and presentations must be directly actionable and educational for the audience. They usually should be interactive in nature, and not a lecture. It cannot be a sales pitch of any kind. You’ll be required to share your presentation ahead of time, and you may be required to go through presentation coaching with our team or provide samples of similar, previous presentations.

Founder Firesides

We interview a local business founder with a notable story about their experience, successes, and challenges, and lessons learned. The interviewer will focus the questions on key areas; the audience will also have time to ask questions of the founder.

The founder doesn’t need to prepare a formal presentation, but will have a call with our interviewer ahead of time to discuss key areas to focus on. The interview typically lasts 30–40 minutes.

Fail Labs

We want to celebrate failures that led to important learning in our startup community! At 1MCCR Fail Labs, a founder dissects a notable failure, where they went wrong, what lessons were learned, and how others can take those lessons forward into their own businesses. Every entrepreneur fails somewhere along the line; the more we can share the lessons learned with each other, the stronger our community will be.

Presenters will usually be the company owner or founder, and they must have been deeply involved in the failure being discussed. You’ll be required to share your presentation ahead of time, and go through presentation coaching / practice with our team.

Why we’re changing it up

The big goals for these changes are:

  • To make it more challenging for the entrepreneurs and presenters: We want presenting at 1MC to be an honor, something you have to earn, so that we have the best possible presenters on stage sharing what they’ve learned.
  • To make it more educational for the audience: We want to make sure that the presenters are educating the audience on the challenges of entrepreneurship and not treating 1MC as an informational or promotional platform.
  • To better align with our community’s resources: We’ve changed some things so that our presenters have a natural next step afterwards to plug into our community’s capabilities.

We’ll try out these new formats for the first few months of 2019, and then inspect and adapt as we always do toward whatever works best. We’re excited to shake things up a bit and make 1 Million Cups an even better resource for our community to support our entrepreneurs, innovators, and dreamers.

We look forward to your feedback and an exciting 1 Million Cups in 2019!

Your 1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids Organizing Team,

Akira Allen, Eric Engelmann, Jessalyn Holdcraft, Rina Jensen, Julie Lammers, Scott Swenson, James Welbes, Laura Gansemer


Originally published at NewBoCo.