MANKATO, MN - It's like a local version of Shark Tank, with entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to other business owners.  The group is called "1 Million Cups" and today they are celebrating the first anniversary of the Mankato chapter.
 
Yvonne Cariveau, one of the organizers of the group said, "What's great about 1 Million Cups is that it's not a show, it's a community.  It's a group of people who are getting together to help entrepreneurs."

At their monthly meeting, a couple of entrepreneurs are chosen to pitch their business to the rest of the group.  The group then gives their tips and ideas to the presenter.

"They're coming in and they're just saying, 'Here's where I am at.  Here's my story.  This is what I need next.' and then the community responds to that.  What's amazing about the Mankato community is that they always respond." Cariveau said.

Business owners love having the opportunity to connect with each other.
 
Jeff Chambers, President and CEO of Guardian Athletics said, "1 Million Cups has helped us basically network with other people to help get the word out there that we are a new business in Mankato and that we exist.  So, they've made a lot of connections for us."

Chambers' company has invented a head protection device for football players.

Chambers: "We have a collar designed to slow down the helmet and head after direct or indirect impact and therefore reduce those impulsive forces acting on the brain as the head moves."

Even future entrepreneurs have learned a lot from the meetings.
 
Brooke Dorn, a student at MSU Mankato and intern with the group said, "One Million Cups is an incredible opportunity.  Not only as community members but as students to come and see those inspiring speeches and I just think it's really great for basically anyone in the community to come to."