Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Super Spy Turned Entrepreneur

June 26, 2018

1 Million Cups Cherokee has met in a school gym, a historic theatre, a bus, and now a train depot. The City of Holly Springs welcomed the 1MC Cherokee community into the historic train depot Wednesday morning with coffee provided by The Coffee Vineyard. Fresh Start Cherokee nurtures the county’s 186-year-long startup spirit and meeting at a landmark that played an integral role in building Holly Springs brought the entrepreneurial narrative full circle. Just as the Holly Springs Train Depot connects Canton and Marietta, 1MC Cherokee connects entrepreneurs with the community. Just think of all the cups of coffee the train depot has seen throughout the century!

Keith Minick, former NSA super spy and Georgia State University graduate, presented at Wednesday’s gathering. In 2015 Minick left his career as the Director of Business Operations at Turner Broadcasting to launch Aculign, a small business growth partner firm. This transition from corporate to entrepreneurship is shared by many small business owners; the hours-long commute took away time with family. “I have a family of five, and I was spending three hours in the car, and I barely saw my family, they were the catalyst for launching my own business.”

Aculign is a consulting agency that specializes in helping small business thrive, not just survive. “We have three primary areas of focus: strategy, process optimization, and digital marketing. We feel like above all else that we do not touch anything without determining your target audience.” By using this three-pronged approach, Aculign promises to make your business more efficient, increase brand awareness, and create a clear framework to achieve the overall strategy of the company.

“If there is one thing I would want ya’ll to take away is the acronym FOCUS: follow one customer until success.” After following FOCUS, Aculign saw substantial growth. Besides FOCUS, Aculign’s growth strategy includes building referral partnerships, creating a relationship with clients, and recruiting affiliates. A big reason Minick presented at 1MC was to pitch his idea of an affiliate program to replace the traditional employee model and garner feedback towards a more complete solution.

Minick reached out to the audience and asked for specific feedback about Aculign’s strategy and the positives and adverse effects of building a company centered around an affiliate program.

One audience member asked, “Do you feel like affiliates are part of your long-term plan rather than hiring employees?”

“I struggle with the idea of an employee. When I was an employee, I didn’t want to be owned. I didn’t want to be told where to be or what to wear. So, the philosophy is finding a value creator, which is why I began the affiliate program,” responded Minick.

It makes sense why Minick would feel that way about hiring employees, after all, most entrepreneurs began their hustles because they too were tired of being someone else’s employee.

Minick experienced one of the key aspects of 1MC culture: safe and supportive. One particularly inquisitive attendee asked multiple questions and Minick felt comfortable to engage in conversation. The questioner even stayed after the event to speak one-on-one in more detail.

We are now nine presenters, five venues, and 320 cups of coffee into our goal of 1 million! Help us achieve our goal by marking our next event at the brand new Oakhouse in Canton on your calendar! We are excited to meet back up with the community on Wednesday, July 18th!


Free, bi-weekly program developed by the Kauffman Foundation
helps build startup communities nationwide.

To learn more about 1MC or if you are interested in being a presenter, please visit the website to be directed to the application.

If you missed the event this morning, you can still access all the fun! All of the 1MC Cherokee events will be live streamed and recorded. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee and check out the presentation here:

1MC Cherokee will meet at the Oakhouse Canton on July 18th from 9-10 am.