Mason Enterprise Center Hosts Weekly Chats with Entrepreneurs

Posted: March 10, 2014 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: March 11, 2014 at 7:02 am

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By Justin LaFreniere

1 million cups meeting

Renee Younes of the Mason Enterprise Center speaks during a meeting of 1 Million Cups at the Prince William Campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Every Wednesday morning, the Hylton Performing Arts Center on George Mason University’s Prince William Campus gets hopped up on coffee as it hosts the Manassas chapter of 1 Million Cups. This entrepreneurial education program brings together an area’s successful business owners to build a stronger startup community.

The chapter’s official launch was Feb. 28, but these hardworking entrepreneurs have been meeting every Wednesday morning since November, as long as the weather cooperated. Hosted by the Mason Enterprise Center in hopes of uniting Northern Virginia’s entrepreneurial community, these meetings are about growing a community together, in a cooperative environment.

Started in Kansas City by the Kauffman Foundation in 2012, 1 Million Cups is a multicity organization that operates on the idea that “communities are built on a million cups of coffee” and brings together entrepreneurs and startup businesses. There are 29 chapters across the United States, but the Prince William location is one of only two in the Washington, D.C., metro area (the other chapter is at the Mason Enterprise Center in Leesburg, Va.)

Every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., 1 Million Cups in Prince William features six-minute presentations by local entrepreneurs, followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer session. Afterward, attendees mingle and talk, in hopes of making connections, solving problems, or offering advice to people who may face difficulties similar to what they’ve experienced in the act of starting a business.

The Prince William 1 Million Cups has had to fight with the weather during its first four months, but it still averages between 15 and 30 attendees. From 8:30 to 9 a.m., attendees mingle and drink coffee, sponsored by the Freedom Aquatic Center, and after the presentations end at 10, they have more time to talk. But Renee Younes, regional manager of the Prince William Mason Enterprise Center, says they often have to kick people out because they’re out of time. “There’s so much enthusiasm and excitement there.”

Younes hopes that the number of weekly attendees will double through the spring.

The organizers for event are Jim DiModica of APT Impact; Jim Aram, owner of Advantage Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation; Gerry Peters, CEO of Innovation Continuum; and Uriah Kiser, who launched Potomac Local Media.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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