Sussex County is open for business, and to formulate relationships between entrepreneurs and the local community, Delaware Technical & Community College in Georgetown is hosting the initiative 1 Million Cups every Wednesday.
The Kansas City-born program was created roughly one year ago by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a means to engage, educate and connect local entrepreneurs. Every Wednesday at 9 a.m. two local entrepreneurs will present their business models to interested members of the community over cups of coffee.
Delaware is the 10th region in which the program has launched.
“We started this program with the basic idea that we wanted to get to know our startup community in Kansas City,” said Cameron Cushman of the Kauffman Foundation via video chat at the July 17 Delaware launch of 1 Million Cups. “The community kept showing up. We started with 12 people and we got bigger and bigger. Now we have 225 to 250 people every week in Kansas City.”
Cushman said the foundation started to realize a demand for 1 Million Cups in other cities, which is not something they had initially intended to create.
“We started to see that people across the country wanted to support their local startups, and you can’t support them if you don’t know who they are,” he said.
Chris Moody, director of Delaware Tech’s Corporate and Community Programs Division, said the hope is to create an entrepreneurial-focused culture in Sussex County.
“We wanted entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to have a place to engage one another,” Moody said. “The idea is to create a networking culture.”
The first Delaware 1 Million Cups presenters on July 17 were Mike Nally and Alison Blyth. Nally is the founder and owner of Lead Your Way Solutions, a leadership and organizational development consulting company that creates customized programs to meet the goals, strengths, needs and resources of its clients. Blyth is the owner of the restaurant Go Fish, which serves authentic British cuisine, namely the classic fish and chips. Blyth is now exploring the possibility of franchising and recently opened Go Brit! Fish + Chips in Lewes. Blyth said the name “Go Fish” is owned by Long John Silver’s.
Moody said about 50 people showed up for the first day of 1 Million Cups.
“I heard a lot of positive feedback,” he said. “Several people were congratulating us and telling us how wonderful it is now that we have a centralized place for entrepreneurs to network.”
1 Million Cups will be held in conjunction with the monthly event Sussex County Open for Business, a partnership between Delaware Tech and the Sussex Economic Development Action Committee. During Open for Business, which started several years ago, various local agencies are on hand to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with free business development consultations. Among those agencies are the Delaware Economic Development Office, Southern Delaware Tourism and the YWCA Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Page 2 of 2 - Tricia Matsko, program manager for SEDAC, said pairing 1 Million Cups with the already established Open for Business creates an extra draw for people to attend and get inspired by listening to the presenters tell their stories.
“For those who may be thinking about starting a business but are a little afraid, these events provide valuable resources,” Matsko said. “There are 10 different agencies they can sit down with and get a lay of the land regarding Sussex County.”
Matsko added the agencies can help potential startups determine what steps they need to take to get off the ground.
“It’s a standing date, as Open for Business is held every month,” she said. “These different partners come together in the same room for a one-stop workshop, and that’s very valuable.”