Brazos Valley entrepreneurs are spending one morning a week exchanging ideas as part of a national program designed to improve business ecosystems.
On February 20, 2019, the College Station “community”of 1 Million Cups celebrated its first year of gatherings. Each Wednesday at 8:15AM, Startup Aggieland’s offices in Texas A&M University’s Research Park play host to a presentation, Q&A, networking and coffee.
The brew is central to the concept, which was born in 2012 in Kansas City through the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and has now spread throughout the nation. Through the speculation of just how many solutions to the world’s problems had been found over a million cups of coffee came the idea to bring business leaders together to share the successes and trials they have faced. As a result, attendees gain insight, tools and resources.
The idea for a 1 Million Cups community for the Brazos Valley came when Will Hayes with Northwestern Mutual and some colleagues were visiting Waco, home to the 100th community. After attending the first anniversary event there, Hayes and others decided to work to launch one locally.
"Bryan/College Station is growing rapidly, and we have the opportunity to influence that growth for the better," Hayes said. "Having moved here from out of state, I've realized the importance of connecting with others, building community and building a network to work toward a common vision. We believe 1 Million Cups is a part of that, and actually being the front porch of the business community to bring people together, connect people where they need to be connected. It's not always what you know, but who you know."
Local coffee company What’s the Buzz provides the tasty wake-up call upon one’s arrival. After a few minutes allotted for chit-chat, the group sits down to listen to a presentation from a fellow local entrepreneur about their work. It is meant to be informative but short in order to allow for plenty of time for questions and answers. The final ask is what the entrepreneur needs in order to succeed further, with the audience able to provide assistance and perspective to help make that success happen.
For the first anniversary event, Eric Harry with CardioQuip presented for the group, discussing the company's growth over the past year. That includes CardioQuip's recent groundbreaking for its new global headquarters in College Station. Harry credited the connections he and his colleagues have gained through 1 Million Cups in helping the company grow as much as it has.
"This (CardioQuip) is just one example of many in the community that will continue to grow if we support 1 Million Cups and we continue to behave the way that we have," Harry said. "There's a lot of potential to build something great here."
The College Station community is one of more than 180 in the country and 18 in Texas as of the start of 2019. For more information, visit the 1 Million Cups website.
The Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation, What’s the Buzz and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s Product Development Center are community sponsors of 1 Million Cups.