Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
Every Wednesday morning in over 100 communities nationwide, two entrepreneurs present a six-minute profile of their companies to a diverse audience, followed by 20 minutes of open Q&A.
Last July, I binge-watched 1 Million Cups Kansas City’s 51 presentations from January 1 to June 30 and analyzed the results in this Startland article. I recently put my “Firefly” marathon on hold and again devoured more 1 Million Cups, this time from July 1 through December 31. The free-ranging spectrum of 46 business concepts included artificial intelligence, sensor technology, the best bagels outside New York City and everything in between.
Here are the data points and back story highlights.
- 19.5 percent of the presenters are women, although not necessarily founders – compared with 16 percent for the first half of 2016.
- 8.6 percent were male/female presentation teams.
- 26 percent of the companies have women founders or co-founders — on par with 27 percent in the first half of the year.
- 15 percent of the companies are “family affairs” – the founding team includes spouses, siblings or other relatives. This compares with 20 percent of family founding teams in January-July 2016.
- Seventy-eight percent of the presenters are from the Kansas City metro area, although 10 presenters were from outside the region. Their locations spanned the country from Raleigh, North Carolina to San Francisco, California.
- As in the first half of 2016, over 60 percent of the presenting companies were founded between 2015 and 2016.
Industries they’re targeting
Consistent with the first half of the year, more than half of the presenting companies featured software applications or technology-enabled concepts. Additional industries with multiple presenters include education technology, food and pet-related products/services.
Note: Industry categories are designated by 1 Million Cups and self-selected by presenters. The “other” category includes pet-related products, clothing and other business/consumer products or services.
The trends they’re shaping
Hyperlocal economics: Food and clothing-related companies, including Brewindie and Rightfully Sewn, prioritized local sourcing, production and partnerships.
Cause-integrated business models: GivePet donates dog treats to animal shelters for each bag it sells. Concussion prevention in children drives SuedoSkull, which develops smart sensors and sports helmets.
Democratization of technology: Open source, artificial intelligence software/hardware platform, MyCroft.ai, is disrupting the internet of things by providing open access to both consumers and developers.
What they’re saying
The passions and pains that lead to a business will always be a compelling part of the founder’s story, and there’s no better community to lean in than 1 Million Cups. Miguel Johns of KingFit says his diabetes management platform “was pretty much my calling” because of family history. Hillary Philgreen was motivated to develop the StinkBoss ozone shoe odor neutralizer because of her kids’ smelly sneakers. Rightfully Sewn founder Jennifer Pfeifer perhaps said best what 1 Million Cups brings to Kansas City: “There is a lot more out there than just apps.”
Elizabeth Usovicz is topline revenue strategist and principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, specializing in top-line revenue and business strategies for high-growth companies, new ventures and business units within established companies; keynote speaking and strategy session facilitation. Connect with Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.