For entrepreneurs in Oklahoma looking for a regular dose of inspiration, 1 Million Cups might just be the perfect pick-me-up. A free, nationwide program developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Oklahoma City branch of the program meets monthly at StarSpace46. 1 Million Cups OKC gives local entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet and present their startups to a thriving peer network of founders. As their website suggests, “The coffee is highly encouraged.”
This name for the program is based on the idea that entrepreneurs search for solutions and connect with their local communities over a million cups of coffee every day. Founded in 2012, members in 182 communities around the United States gather on a regular basis to learn and engage with other business owners and professionals. The program is managed by volunteers who tirelessly work to further the impact of 1 Million Cups throughout all 50 states.
An important division of the Kauffman Foundation, the overarching mission is to work with entrepreneurs and empower each one with tools and creative resources that break down barriers. The founder believed that being able to bring a big idea to life is one of our fundamental rights as humans. 1 Million Cups was created to fulfill that mission.
Each monthly meeting offers a presentation from a different expert in their field. Past offerings include topics like using cutting-edge technology for the common good and entrepreneurship around the globe. Attendees often hear from local Oklahoma business owners, who tell the stories of how their companies have grown, and the real-life lessons they’ve learned.
Mike Slack, one of the organizers of 1 Million Cups OKC, spoke about the history of the local chapter, which began before StarSpace46 originally opened. The meetups were previously held at the offices of Dunlap Codding, Oklahoma's largest intellectual property law firm. SS46 partners presented their mission for the coworking space there, in an effort to find its first members.
Slack also discussed his personal mission, and how those align with the current goals of SS46 and of 1 Million Cups. He said, “I want to help create the Oklahoma City that I want to raise my kids in. Not just the Oklahoma City that I want to live in, but that I want my kids to be raised in. And that is an Oklahoma City that has not only an economy of the present and of the past but of the future.”