Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
Every Wednesday morning in Kansas City and 91 other cities nationwide, one or two early-stage startups present a six-minute profile of their companies to a diverse audience, followed by 20 minutes of open Q&A.
I recently reviewed 51 presentations delivered at 1 Million Cups Kansas City from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2016. I haven’t binge-watched that much since catching up on two seasons of “Game of Thrones.”
Here are a few data highlights, and my take on what can’t be measured.
Who’s presenting – and why
Some presenters are eager for feedback and advice on their concepts, while others are intentionally polishing their pitches for future investors. Twelve percent were repeat presenters, returning to update the community on their progress. Still, others are startups serving the startup community.
- 16 percent of the presenters are women, although not necessarily founders
- 27 percent of the companies have women founders or co-founders
- 20 percent of the companies are “family affairs” – the founding team includes spouses, siblings or other relatives
Over 60 percent of presenting companies were founded between 2014 and 2016. Four of the companies are new business ventures or concepts started by existing businesses.
Industries They’re Targeting
Not surprisingly, more than half of the presenting companies focused on software applications or technology-enabled concepts.
Note: Industry categories are designated by 1 Million Cups. The “other” category includes digital publications as well as pet-related products and other business/consumer products or services.
What can’t be measured: Heart
The numbers tell only part of the story. The people behind — or better said, in front of — these metrics are what give the Kansas City entrepreneurial community its heart.
George Benson of To-Go/24, born in Ivory Coast, Africa, talked about his family’s flight from civil war. After asking attendees to recall their best childhood memory, Olga Pitenko of Tikitum shared hers: selling tulips on the streets of Soviet Russia, the scent of flowers in the air and the coolness of coins in her hand. Sheri Gillett of Pet Perch courageously called her company’s Kickstarter campaign “an epic fail.” Ben Rendo of Mighty Green Solutions recognized his co-founder, Anita Newton, who refused to accept “no” from a Walmart buyer, cold-contacted the CEO and got their product into Walmart stores nationwide.
We all need to be on that stage
For the entrepreneurs who take the stage every Wednesday, heart is not a substitute for a viable product and revenue model. But heart precedes the successes and sustains through the disappointments. The takeaway from this first review? It’s best expressed by the United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who said, “We learn from each other. If you’re missing on that stage, we learn less. We all need to be on that stage.”
I’ll be reviewing the July through December1 Million Cups presentations and look forward to sharing the results.
Elizabeth Usovicz is topline revenue strategist and principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, which provides business development strategy, sales coaching, market development and strategic planning. Connect with Elizabeth at email@example.com or @eusovicz on Twitter.
In July of 2015, Startland News collaborated with WhiteSpace Consulting to conduct a whiteboard conversation with women entrepreneurs in the Kansas City region. Women entrepreneurs shared their perceptions about launching and leading companies, and identified topics for ongoing discussion. As a result of this conversation, Startland News and WhiteSpace Consulting have developed (S)heStarts, a blog series that explores the entrepreneurial experience that women and men share, as well as perspectives on how their experiences are unique.