By Aisling Swift

Three Southwest Florida startups will be presenting at 1 Million Cups® Naples in December, representing everything from eco-friendly clothing and downtown transportation options to helping seniors and people undergoing rehab.

1MC Naples, an event that brings together Southwest Florida entrepreneurs, startups and the community, is held the second Wednesday of each month at the Naples Accelerator, 3510 Kraft Road, Ste. 200, and provides startups with a forum to share their stories and seek input.

Based on the belief that entrepreneurs discover solutions and engage with their communities over a million cups of coffee, Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation developed 1 Million Cups in 2012 as a free program to educate, engage and inspire entrepreneurs nationwide. It’s held Wednesday mornings, either monthly or weekly.

“1 Million Cups is a great way to connect entrepreneurs and startups with the Southwest Florida community,” said Jace Kentner, director of the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development.

“Collier County is known as a community of retired CEOs, executives, serial entrepreneurs and venture investors and we hope young businesses can learn from their years of expertise. 1 Million Cups is another opportunity to assist Collier County’s existing businesses,” he added.

Through volunteers, 1 Million Cups has grown to more than 180 communities, including 11 in Florida. Every 1MC location partners with a coffee business and sponsor to provide coffee.

At the events, two entrepreneurs are given six minutes each to present an innovative idea, product or business and tell the audience how their product or service can help people and businesses. Audience members then get 20 minutes to ask questions, toss out ideas – and ask how they can help. There is no investment “ask,” but 1MC gives entrepreneurs a chance to refine their elevator pitches.

“It’s important to provide Southwest Florida entrepreneurs with a platform to improve, as well as access to world-class leaders,” said Naples Accelerator COO Jennifer Pellechio. “We think of this as another value-added resource: 1 Million Cups hosting monthly events at the Naples Accelerator, with participation by other co-working communities, high schools and our university partners.”

The 1 Million Cups Naples organizing team has members from SCORE, the Small Business Development Center at FGCU, Collier County School District’s INCubatoredu program, the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development, and local entrepreneurs, Heidi Culbertson and Carmen Scott Dawson.

The December presenters will be: Bambooty Bodygear, Stabilized Steps and The Nickel Ride. Coffee will be provided by Grumpy Goat Coffee and paid for by event sponsor iPartnerMedia, Inc., both of Bonita Springs.

  • Stabilized Steps of Naples is a patented device for walkers used for rehab or by seniors and the elderly. It helps stabilize walkers on various terrains, including beaches and grass, and helps prevent falls, helps people stand, sit or get up after a fall. It easily attaches to the bottom of a walker, allowing users to be more stable —increasing safety and independence indoors and outdoors, and giving users confidence and stability. It tied for top honors at VenturePitch SWFL 2018, and won angel funding from Adrenaline Venture Fund, a Naples Accelerator member that’s affiliated with Tamiami Angel Funds.
  • Bambooty BodyGear of Venice offers unique tie-dyed bamboo headgear, T-shirts, skirts, sarongs and other clothing. It fills a void in the synthetic performance fabric market (Dry Fit and Under Armour) by using natural fiber — heavy duty bamboo, organic cotton and elastane — with natural, superior qualities. Bamboo is an eco-friendly natural performance fabric that feels amazingly soft, wicks sweat three times more than cotton, wears cooler by several degrees, has a 50 SPF and is naturally anti-microbial, meaning it won’t grow the bacteria that creates odors, such as mildew or body odor.
  • Fort-Myers based The Nickel Ride, a community-based, eco-friendly ride-sharing service, is now in five cities, including Naples, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Dec. 14. Its mission is to be the leading provider in OOH (Out-of-Home) Advertising by offering a free community-based ride-sharing service that connects riders with their local community. It’s mission is to inspire people to refrain from using automobiles and other carbon-emitting transportation when they travel locally, to reduce traffic congestion in high-density downtown areas, and support local businesses.

    January’s presenters will be: LiveSmart Builders of Naples and Tampa-based Startup Cruise. Coffee will be provided by White Moon Coffee Co.

Businesses that are less than 5 years old with an innovative idea can apply to present at 1 Million Cups by going to: www.1millioncups.com/naples. For more information, call 252-8591.