‘1 Million Cups' Sees Success in Bringing Entrepreneurship to Springfield

Published 07/08 2014 07:45PM

Updated 07/17 2014 05:02AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- When you think about cities for entrepreneurs, New York or San Francisco might come to mind.

But there is a group of people who are trying to add Springfield to the list, changing face of business in the Show-Me State.

For more than 35 weeks, the E-Factory downtown has hosted 1 Million Cups Springfield.

Each week, two start up companies present their ideas, network and get valuable feedback from the community.

It's 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, and that means you'll find Rachel Anderson at 1 Million Cups.

“I'm always learning something new meeting other really great people getting good ideas,” says Anderson, co-founder of Alumni Spaces.

But this day is a little different.

After attending for months, watching other businesses pitch, this time she's taking the stage.

Anderson has started a tech company called Alumni Spaces.

“Our clients right now are focused on alumni associations,” she says. “You know the Springfield chapter of the Mizzou alumni association or, you know, the University of Florida.”

She and two colleagues have a website to help those associations and chapters connect with their alums across the country.

Like each company that presents at One Million Cups, she prepped a six-minute presentation and then took questions from the nearly 100 attendees.

“You can put something out there and say, you know here's something I’m facing what do you think?” says Anderson. “And not feel too vulnerable because everyone is here to help you out and that's pretty unique.”

And that was the goal when this program was brought to Springfield.

“They have a room full of advisors, investors, mentors, entrepreneurs, students and people in the educational program and we are all there to help them,” says Devin Dillon, founding organizer of 1 Million Cups (#1MC) Springfield.

Dillon helped organize this movement because he wanted people to answer yes to this question.

“Is Springfield considered a start-up community?” he asks.

Anderson wanted to be based here because she also saw the growing support for start-ups like hers.

“In cities like LA, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, where have you, it's a little harder to break in,” she says.

And a big part of breaking into Springfield’s community is One Million Cups.

“I think it's really great that Springfield is kind of fostering that entrepreneurship culture and it's something I want to be a part of,” says Anderson.

1 Million Cups is free to attend every Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the E-Factory.

If you have a start-up company, it's also free to present. Just contact 1 Million Cups Springfield.

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