53 entrepreneurs presented.
1,800+ community members attended.
Little did we know when we launched 1 Million Cups in Wilmington last February, that packing the CIE with seventy people on a Wednesday morning would come to an abrupt end. We also didn’t know how resilient and innovative our entrepreneurial community would prove to be.
Reflecting on the numbers we achieved over the past year, they’re pretty darn impressive.
Developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2012, 1 Million Cups is a free program designed to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. It’s founded on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee. 1 Million Cups events are now organized by more than 800 volunteers in 40 states, one U.S. territory and six time zones – all on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m.
The Wilmington community organizers worked through the approval process with the Kauffman Foundation in 2019. Kauffman is driven to provide uncommon ways to create opportunities and connect people to the tools they need to achieve success, change their futures and give back to their communities. The approval process is arduous, and we made the cut!
We launched 1 Million Cups Wilmington on February 12, 2020 – and moved quickly and seamlessly to fully virtual on April 1.
Here are just a few highlights from the entrepreneurs that presented in our first year:
Active Defender: One of the last in-person presentations before the pandemic shutdown. Jim Boyte saw a successful year in 2020 and participated in the CED-GRO program.
OpiAID: In addition to being selected for Venture Connect 2021, this team won a federal grant and was a finalist for an NC Tech award last fall. They also recently received funding from the state to aid in job creation and help innovative businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Electronic Lab Logs: Finalist in the inaugural NC Bioneer Venture Challenge in spring 2020, NC IDEA SEED Grant recipient, representing Wilmington at Venture Connect 2021 in March, and a nod to Daniel Summers, CEO, as a Wilmington Biz 100 in the Innovator category.
NALA Systems: Also selected for Venture Connect 2021.
Mesur.io: AI and Machine Learning finalist at NC Tech Awards fall 2020; raised $775,000, and selected for Venture Connect 2021.
GWBJ Coastal Entrepreneur Awards Series: The 11 award-winning businesses were highlighted over a 10-week stretch.
Did you know nominations are now open for 2021?
What’s on deck for 2021? We’ve got presentations booked for the next month and will be running another series of businesses – those selected for the first cohort of the Genesis Block’s Back on the Block Minority Accelerator. Join us to meet the entrepreneurs that will be among the top businesses in the state receiving grants, awards, and other recognitions.
It takes a community to help businesses start, launch, and grow. Wilmington certainly has a strong, deep rooted commitment to supporting the businesses in our startup ecosystem.
Want to get involved in 2021? Sign up to present at https://www.1millioncups.com/present. Join us on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. Zoom links can be found at www.uncw.edu/cie. Or send a message to [email protected] to learn more about becoming a Wilmington 1 Million Cups organizer.
Contributed by Laura Brogdon-Primavera, Manager of Programs and Operations at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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