Tysons, VA

Almost every Wednesday morning, dozens of entrepreneurs and tech gurus gather to network and share their ideas at an office in Tysons.

1 Million Cups Fairfax is part of a 160-chapter initiative that invites upcoming entrepreneurs from around the country to pitch their venture and receive feedback from other local stakeholders and innovators.

On Nov. 20, Tysons Reporter attended the weekly event and listened to Malaika Simmons of Momentology Media pitch her brand.

Following Simmon’s pitch, which focused on her plans to help women and kids though life coaching and development of a personal brand, attendees offered to connect her with other people in the field, gave advice and asked questions about her mission.

One person said that her model might be good for couples working through difficult times, while another suggested she should consider partnerships with corporate companies.

“My number one goal is to get corporate sponsors,” Simmons said, adding that she has already worked with the federal government and Fortune 500 companies in the past.

Simmons said that corporate sponsors are the best way to scale her business, but her true passion is working with women and children.

Event organizers told Tysons Reporter that feedback like this is typical and people can feel free to be honest with one another.

1 Million Cups began under the Kauffman Foundation, which aims to help businesses owners from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their potential, according to the website.

1 Million Cups Fairfax, which is Tysons’s local chapter, began about a year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day 2018, John Yu, a spokesperson for Office Evolution, said. Yu said that the program has become increasing in popularity, with presentation spots filling up quickly.

To ensure that the presentations will be productive for everyone, organizers ensure that each entrepreneur has a sense of direction and a business model.

“We very rarely turn anyone away,” Yu said. “We just postpone.”

Anyone is welcome to listen and join in the group discussion.

Several attendees said there is typically a dynamic turnout for these events. Tysons Reporter met a variety of people, including several “serial entrepreneurs,” representatives from the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and one man who simply wanted to know more about local business.

The weekly event is held at Office Evolution (609 Westwood Center Drive) from 8:30-10 a.m. and the next session will take place after Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

“We try to give a voice to startups around the area,” Yu said.

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