How it works

Thank you for agreeing to be an expert panelist at 1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids!

1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids is an interactive, public event in which an entrepreneur presents their business and a specific challenge they’re facing to you and several other expert panelists. This is done in front of an audience of 30-80 people, and it is also streamed live online. The event is intended to help our entire entrepreneurial community learn from other entrepreneurs' challenges, and to connect them to experts in our region that can help grow their businesses here.

You’ll be on a panel of up to four experts we’ve selected to help the entrepreneur deal with or resolve their challenge.

  • Please arrive at by 8:15AM, so we can get you coffee, introduce you to the entrepreneur and the other panelists
  • The entrepreneur will present for about six minutes on the business they’re in, and the challenge they’re facing.
  • The expert panel will ask questions and provide suggestions for about 20-25 minutes
  • The audience will have the chance to ask questions for about 10 minutes
  • A moderator will help ensure the program flows smoothly
  • The program ends by 9:30AM

Your role

The entrepreneur will present first, usually with a simple slide deck. You'll sit in front with the other panelists, where you'll pass the microphone back and forth. Your role is not to necessarily solve the problem. Don’t feel like you have to come in and save the day with the perfect answer!

Instead, we need you to:

  • Ensure the entrepreneur understands the problem clearly and is approaching it from the right perspective. Often, entrepreneurs have difficulty seeing the forest for the trees, so sometimes the best “answer” is to just see the problem more clearly or differently.
  • Suggest ways for the entrepreneur to resolve the problem on their own. An example might be “have you to talked to some of your customers about this yet to get their input?”
  • Describe similar scenarios in your experience where you were able to solve a similar problem.

While the event is public and intended to educate our broader startup community, it’s not necessary for you to “put on a show” for the audience’s benefit. In order of priority: first, help the entrepreneur with their challenge, then help the audience understand how it might apply to them more generally.


You probably won’t need to do much preparation for the event. We’ll do our best to give you some indication of the challenge the entrepreneur is facing ahead of time, but often the entrepreneur has given the issue more thought since originally applying for 1MCCR or has even made progress on it that we won’t know until they present on stage. You’ve been selected because you have of expertise that will likely prove helpful to the entrepreneur, but it’s probably not possible nor preferred to have a well-planned sequence of questions/solutions ahead of time. Instead, we suggest coming up with a couple of general questions to start from that you think might be applicable, and then let the conversation evolve from there on the fly. So far, this has worked very well for our panelists.

Dress is very casual; you can wear whatever you’d normally wear to work or whatever you feel is appropriate.

Thank you

Your assistance with 1MC is a valuable and simple way to give back to our community, and to help entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in Eastern Iowa. We appreciate your willingness to be a part of this program.


1 Million Cups Cedar Rapids is held in the Geonetric Catalyst Cafe. It's a high energy environment, full of entrepreneurs excited to learn from each other and from experts like you.


The 1MCCR entrepreneur presents for about six minutes on their business, and the specific challenge they need help with, usually using a short slide deck.


Expert panelists sit in front and ask the entrepreneur key questions to help them deal with challenges.