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Entrepreneurs, Volunteers establish 1 Million Cups Okaloosa

The Doolittle Institute is partnering with the Okaloosa Economic Development Council’s One Okaloosa; Niceville/Valparaiso, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Crestview Chambers of Commerce; and Northwest Florida State College to bring the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurial community, 1 Million Cups, to Okaloosa County. Beginning May 5, 2021, the Doolittle Institute will invite startups and small business to apply for the opportunity to present their business concepts and receive feedback from a supportive audience of entrepreneurial-minded professionals.

1 Million Cups is for mentoring, coaching, and supporting entrepreneurs. Presenters are not giving sales pitches or investor pitches. Presenters will not receive Shark Tank-like feedback. The goal of presenting is for entrepreneurs and small business owners to share their struggles and challenges with others so that they may find support and solutions for building a successful business. Entrepreneurs may apply to present multiple times as they incorporate advice from previous presentations.

This free program is designed to educate, engage, and inspire entrepreneurs. The program started in 2012 in Kansas City as a way to stimulate entrepreneurial efforts, provide resources, and overcome the struggle to growing small businesses successfully. According to the 1 Million Cups website, “1 Million Cups works with entrepreneurs, empowering them with the tools and resources to break down barriers that stand in the way of starting and growing their businesses.” By January 2018, 1 Million Cups had grown to 163 communities with the support from more than 800 volunteers in 40+ states.

Companies that are less than five years old and open to community engagement can apply to present at 1 Million Cups Okaloosa. All industries are welcome. Presenters will have six minutes to tell the community who they are, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. After the presentation, there will be a 20-minute Q&A session that will give presenters the opportunity to connect with their audience, culminating to the million-dollar question: “What can we as a community do to help you?”

The hybrid in-person/virtual event will occur every Wednesday, starting May 5, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM Central Time. You will find meeting links, presenters, and community organizers on the 1 Million Cups website.