The value in bringing a movement to your city

1 Million Cups Organizer Summit participants.

From time-to-time I hear local people push back on the idea of a new event or program launching in our community if it started elsewhere. The general concern is that by adding this to our local programming we’re giving in to a “me, too” complacency rather than taking on the tough task of designing something original and specific to our community. While I understand where that concern comes from I just never bought it. A few weeks ago, I realized the reason why.

Nate Olson invited me to join in on the 1 Million Cups Organizer Summit in Kansas City, MO, USA to give a talk about how Startup Genome could be beneficial to what they’re working on. 1 Million Cups (1MC) is Nate’s brainchild and this was the first time he’d gathered organizers from the 20+ cities involved in one place. In the opening remarks for the summit, Nate referred to 1MC as a “movement” and told the organizers of the value in having their community participate: credibility and voice on a national scale while retaining the individuality and local flavor that makes your city unique. In the case of 1MC, the movement is about leveraging grassroots entrepreneurial communities.

The more I thought about it the more I started to see other programming as movements, too. For example, take two events familiar to many cities around the world: Startup Weekend and TEDx. Startup Weekend is really a movement meant to “inspire, educate, and empower” entrepreneurs through its 54 hour intensive startup launch experience. Similarly, TEDx is a way to encourage local conversation around “ideas worth spreading”.

Collectively, these movements give their focus area a national/global platform to demand attention in a way that no individual community could if it was hatched on its own. At the same time, each 1 Million Cups, Startup Weekend and TEDx is undeniably distinctive and reflective of the city – and the community of people in that city – that host it.

Geoff Wood is the COO of Startup Genome and a community builder in Des Moines, IA, USA. He participates in 1 Million Cups – Des Moines and invites the speaker each week to be a guest on his podcast: The Welch Avenue Show

Photo Credit: The Kauffman Foundation


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