Investor Pitch Practice (Pitching at 1 Million Cups) – Summary

  • What is 1 Million Cups
  • Attending 1 Million Cups As an Audience Member
  • Attending 1 Million Cups As a Presenter
  • Many Different Chapters Means Many Different Perspectives
  • Get to Know Common Questions and Your Weaknesses
  • Wrap-Up

Pitching at 1 Million Cups is a great way to accelerate your pitch practice and your startup business. 

1 million cups logo

What is 1 Million Cups

1 Million Cups is a US based organization of people interested in startups and small business. It’s a free event that happens weekly and is sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation. Their mission, in summary, is to help entrepreneurs connect and get their ideas out so they can bring them to life and provide investor pitch practice. Sounds pretty great huh?

Well it is great! And being an audience member or a presenter can help you with your startup and your pitch in many ways. 

Pitch audience judges

Attending 1 Million Cups As an Audience Member

In your local 1 Million Cups chapter, you can meet alot of great startup people in your community. Usually startup owners are so heads down that they don’t have time to get out and network like they know they should. Being an audience member will give you exposure to other startups and their founders you might not otherwise meet. It also gives you a chance to listen to pitches from those startups presenting their ideas. 

Likely these startups who are pitching, are not there to get your money. But they are there to simulate stressful conditions, meet resources that can help them scale and grow, and prepare their pitch to make it the best for investors. Each of these presenters gets a chance to present and a feedback round. You can learn alot from the feedback being given at the end of each pitch. You can also learn alot about the pitch itself by watching it.

What works from a pitch deck standpoint? What was distracting? What did they do really well? What did you have questions about and want to know more about? All these kinds of questions can really help you start to understand how to craft your best pitch.

In addition, the advice from the audience after the pitch can give you tons of great insight into what makes business models strong, how the pitch could’ve been better or more focused, or how the concepts work or don’t. As a student of business and your customer, there is a ton of great experience behind this feedback. Listening to it can help you broaden your understanding of business and opportunities that you might not otherwise be exposed to as you work to get your startup off the ground.

Pitch practice

Attending 1 Million Cups As a Presenter

You might already be starting to understand some of the great reasons to be a presenter from us describing the audience’s takeaways. But being a presenter at 1 Million Cups is an awesome experience. If you are about to start pitching to investors and raising money for your startup, we think this is a great, low-risk, high-pressure way to get started.

Practice Pitching with Pressure

As we’ve mentioned in our ongoing series, Making the Best Pitch: Getting Over Nerves adding pressure to your investor pitch is key to helping you learn your response to stress. Learning this helps you find ways to relax and overcome these tendencies and the more practice you have, the more likely you will be to actually enjoy pitching. Not to mention, you’ll appear way more confident and in control. What’s more stressful than pitching to a room FULL of people who know alot about startups and who are there to critique you? Pitching to investors – for sure – but it’s close.

investor pitch practice

Many Different Chapters Means Many Different Perspectives

With so many local chapters, 1 Million Cups Presenters have the ability to pitch at multiple locations with very different demographics, startup knowledge, and overall experience. Having such a vast resource network within your grasp can really help you iron out the kinks in your investor presentation. And all this before you even get in front of an investor! 

For instance, Colorado Springs is a very different business community than Denver and the same probably applies to every city in America.

Check out the local chapters near you here:

Many different perspectives on your pitch is great, because it’s hard to really lock down on what one particular investor wants or needs. Sure there are some common needed themes like good financials, strong product, demonstration of traction, etc. But in general, it’s going to come down to the preferences and tolerances of your individual investors. 

We don’t want you to get mentor whiplash in going to these events, but instead take all the feedback into consideration and make the decision to go after the investors who you think will most resonate with your company, product, team, and mission. 

Get to Know Common Questions and Your Weaknesses

Getting to know the audience and their feedback is a great way to understand what types of questions might come your way during or after your pitch to investors. These questions might come up time and time again. They might also expose you to weaknesses and strengths that you would have been blind to knowing before putting your idea out there.

One Million Cups is a great place to see what investors might want before you actually get in front of them. Remember investors are people too. They have some of the same motivations and thoughts as the founders and audience members watching your pitch. And who knows, they might actually be at your 1 Million Cups pitch! (they drop in from time to time). So keep it real, practice like you were in front of investors and use the experience to make you business and your pitch the best it can be.


Ultimately, we think One Million Cups is a one of a kind event for startups for investor pitch practice. The benefits you get from being both an audience member and an presenter are immense. Attending in either capacity can help you get to know your community. It can also help you expand your reach through attending events all over the US. 

We think having access to this great group of like-minded, helpful individuals, is a great place to start when you are seeking funding or trying to take your business to the next level. Check it out sometime and let us know what you think.

Happy Pitching!

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