Supporting Small Business Owners 1 Cup at a Time

Every Wednesday morning, business owners and entrepreneurs gather together to support one another over a cup of coffee. 1 Million Cups is “Based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed 1 Million Cups in 2012—a free program designed to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. Through the power of volunteers, 1 Million Cups has grown to more than 180 communities.”

For more than a year, Office Evolution – Tysons Corner, has been hosting 1 Million Cups every Wednesday morning, as part of Office Evolution’s commitment to the local business community.

Following a regular format, the group, which is free and open to everyone, has 30 minutes of networking. Then, each week, a single business owner has the opportunity to present some more details about the business. That owner concludes the presentation with an opportunity to present to the group a business challenge that the owner is facing. The challenge can be on any topic, with the idea that the group’s input will help solve a business challenge facing the owner. From hiring and firing to financing to scaling the business, owners gain the wisdom and insight of the group who have encountered these challenges in their own businesses.

John Yu, Office Evolution’s Owner, along with other volunteer organizers who are business owners themselves, attends the 1 Million Cups sessions on a regular basis, and he has found that the structure of the program is highly beneficial to the participants: “We wanted to create an opportunity for the local business community to network, but we wanted to offer something more substantive in the process.” The 1 Million Cups format was appealing to Yu because it allows the participants to get more out of the meeting than business cards. He adds, “We see business owners getting real, practical advice on serious business issues”.

Donnell Johns of Avision Worldwide Leadership Consulting Firm is the Co-Founding Organizer for 1 Million Cups, Fairfax, chapter. He describes the group that gathers together as his “Tribe,” noting that “It’s a safe place to share your business issues, opportunities, challenges or new ideas and get help from like-minded entrepreneurs. We learn from each other as well as build our networks.” The fact that the group is free to attend is an important draw for entrepreneurs in start-up mode. Johns was pleased to associate with Office Evolution to offer this safe, productive space for business owners.

Hosting the gathering on a weekly basis has been a benefit to the members at Office Evolution, and the open door policy has made it possible for a diverse group of business owners to participate. This diversity enhances the quality of the feedback and assistance during the problem solving portion of the session. It also allows the members of Office Evolution to get to know one another and their community business neighbors.  

1 Million Cups meets at Office Evolution, Tyson’s Corner on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. For more information about opportunities like 1 Million Cups, please contact Kara Woehrmyer at

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