Establishing the Newest Industry in Central Illinois – YOU!


by Amy Lambert, Startup Peoria, Founder

There has never been a better time to have an idea than right now, especially in Central Illinois!  If you have an idea for a business, an application, or a new product, now is the time to act on them! 

Startup Peoria is a new non-profit organized to Startup Peoria exists to develop, encourage and promote the tech startup community in the Central Illinois region. Our vision is to provide entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with the tools, resources and ecosystem to ideate, collaborate and launch successful businesses that contribute to the long-term growth and prosperity of the local economy.  Jake Hamann and I, along with others, began collaborating to form the non-profit earlier this year.  We just received our first round of funding to grow the tech startup community.  You are invited to learn more and get involved at

Here are two upcoming events - 1 Million Cups™, and Startup Weekend - that will help you get moving and closer to success on your idea!

Caffeinating Our Community

1 Million Cups™, a program created by Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, will launch in Peoria, IL., on October 30.  Our All Amercia city is the newest location – and the 18th nationwide – to host the weekly gathering that is building startup communities over cups of coffee and conversation across the country.

1 Million Cups began in April 2012 in Kansas City, the hometown of its founding organization, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Kauffman Labs is a program of the Kauffman Foundation.

The 1 Million Cups model is consistent across the US. Every Wednesday morning in each city, two early-stage startups present their companies to a diverse audience of mentors, advisers and other entrepreneurs. Each founder presents for six minutes and then fields audience questions for another 20 minutes. The program is run entirely by local entrepreneurs who serve as community organizers.

Entrepreneurs, innovators and interested community members from Central Illinois and the surrounding region will meet at 9 a.m. each Wednesday at Thirty-Thirty Coffee in downtown Peoria.

"We're extremely pleased to be partnering with the Kauffman Foundation to bring 1 Million Cups to Central Illinois," said Jake Hamann. "We look forward to hosting this exceptional program and inviting entrepreneurs in Central Illinois and across our region to join us."

54 Hours – All Action – No Talk

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship is cosponsoring the event and provides the venue for Central Illinois’ first Startup Weekend event November 15-17, 2013.

Beginning Friday evening November 15th at the Robert Michel Student Center, inspired entrepreneurs will begin to pitch their ideas. Teams organically form around the top ideas and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.

On Saturday, teams will spend the day honing their idea, meeting with local entrepreneurs and receiving coaching on how best to pitch their plan.  The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local judges, who will provide critical feedback and award First, Second and Third Places along with an Audience Choice award.  Although cash prizes aren’t given out, top winners will receive business services that will help move their business forward.

When I first heard of Startup Weekend, I couldn’t wait to sign up.  I was excited because and at the close of the weekend over 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend! Over 36% of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong after 3 months.

After completing my first Startup Weekend last November in St Louis (My team won Audience Choice!!) I couldn’t wait to bring it to Peoria!  Startup Weekends attract the community’s best makers and do-ers. By spending a weekend working collaborative to build scalable companies that solve real-world problems, we begin building long-lasting relationships and there is always the possibly that someone attending can walk away with a job or even an investor.

Details are here: and tickets (currently discounted for early bird registrations) can be purchased here

Amy Lambert can be reached at