Coffee, celebration, collaboration…and a disco ball! Visit a 1 Million Cups Brunswick monthly meeting and that’s what you’ll get. It’s all about entrepreneurs sharing their stories and dreams – and when the group recognizes a big win, the disco ball at Tipsy McSways beams brightly.
Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed 1 Million Cups in 2012 and has grown to more than 130 communities – from Albuquerque to Wichita.
“1 Million Cups’ purpose is to build a culture of entrepreneurship by getting entrepreneurs to network with each other. Community support and guidance from mentors are key to creating a successful network,” explains Dr. William “Skip” Mounts, Dean of the School of Business and Public Management at the Coastal College of Georgia, who played a pivotal role in establishing 1 Million Cups in Brunswick.
Celebrating its 5th anniversary, the Brunswick organization has invited over 100 local entrepreneurs to share their business stories over the years. Recent speakers have included Melanin Makers Market, helping makers of color bring their goods and talents to market; Merci Bouquet Flower Truck, blooming with bouquets sold from four-speed 1960 Volkswagen Transporter; and Daddy Cates Coffee shop, a popular gathering spot in historic downtown Brunswick.
Another key supporter of the Brunswick 1 Million Cups organization is Vanessa Wagner, Golden Isles Development Authority’s Director of Business Development and Strategic Programs. She sees 1 Million Cups as a powerful economic development tool. “Anything we can do to remove barriers to access resources and knowledge helps startups and small businesses. The 1 Million Cups platform allows entrepreneurs to learn from one another and build their networks of advisors and supporters. I’ve been amazed by the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Golden Isles area – we are definitely punching above our weight when it comes to business creation.”
An economist by degree, Mounts recognizes the role of entrepreneurs in community development and resilience. “Entrepreneurs are key to community growth. We started with around 10 attendees and have grown to 40+ a session. It’s been rewarding to help business owners solve problems, access resources, and seize opportunities in the coastal Georgia community.”