1 Million Cups Fargo turned one year old on Wednesday, and organizers and attendees celebrated with a birthday party complete with cupcakes, coffee and conversation.
It was a packed house at The Stage at Island Park, with more than 360 people attending.
On stage were speakers James Burgum of Arthur Ventures, a local software venture capital firm, and Zak Fick from Help U, a service that sets up college students with small jobs or volunteer work in their communities.
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There was even a rendition of the Happy Birthday song by Mark Lindquist and presents handed out to lucky attendees, donated from area businesses.
Since its launch in January 2014, 1 Million Cups Fargo has grown in attendance from about 40 people to an average draw of 200 people each week.
A new twist was a special Internship Fair for college students. Employers with internships up for grabs gave their pitched to the packed house and were able to connect with interested students.
Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst spoke about the importance of internships for students and outlined the efforts that the university has undertaken to connect students with opportunities.
“Over the last year, 1 Million Cups Fargo has been a driving force for entrepreneurs to share their ideas, build partnerships and find support. It’s generated hundreds of new friendships, launched new businesses and supported the decisions of a few businesses to choose Fargo as their home. I would have never guessed 1 Million Cups would have led to this level of impact, yet I’m grateful for what has happened and what is coming,” Greg Tehven, one of the program’s local volunteer organizers, said.
The weekly event is a program aimed at local entrepreneurs to help educate, engage and connect them with each other and also with the community at large.
1 Million Cups — based on the notion that entrepreneurs network and discover solutions over a million cups of coffee — was founded by the Kauffman Foundation to help build startup communities on a grassroots level. Since launching in Kansas City in April 2012, 1 Million Cups is now in more than 65 cities across the nation.