Nate OlsonHow can innovative ideas become something more? Often they can grow over cups of coffee, feedback and collaboration with like minds, says Nate Olson, co-founder of 1 Million Cups, an entrepreneur pitch program.

1 Million Cups, born in Kansas City, is a program of Kauffman Labs and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Olson was one of 18 people to speak during TEDxCoMo in Columbia, Mo. recently.

One Million Cups was created "by entreprenuers for entrepreneurs" who wanted to engage and collaborate in a community of “like minds.” When the program started, the startup community in Kansas City was “extremely fragmented,” says Olson. There were plenty of entrepreneurs but few of them were connecting with one another. Now through One Million Cups, mentors, advisers and entrepreneurs hear presentations from entrepreneurs and share personal stories, feedback and advice. 

The one-year-old program has grown to Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Houston, Texas; St. Louis, Mo.; Reno, Nev.; and Des Moines, Iowa. Founders have plans to expand the program to several other cities.

Although the program doesn’t have a presence in every community, its goals can and need to be, says Olson.

“This is getting together over a cup of coffee and making things work,” says Olson. “There are great ideas flowing right now in this community. But communities can’t help if they don’t know what you need.”

How can RJI help you with your great idea?

Have an innovative idea for improving the practice or understanding of journalism? What big ideas are brewing here in Columbia, Mo., or elsewhere across the country? Grab a cup of coffee and share your ideas with Reynolds Journalism Institute staff and executives. Consider being a Donald W. Reynolds Fellow.

Although RJI executive staff are no longer accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Reynolds Fellow program, it’s never too early to get started thinking about your ideas for next year.

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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