3 Organizations Helping Vets Launch New Businesses

Sgt. Melissa Wenger

During your military career, you may have learned to find solutions and innovate in the toughest of conditions and now you are ready to bring that same determination to your own business. If so, you are in good company. A recent Small Business Administration report found that veterans are 45% more likely to start a company than their civilian peers. If you have the idea, but need a little help getting started, many organizations have stepped up specifically for veterans. I have been lucky enough to meet with many of these groups, and to give you an idea of what is available, here are three that I believe are doing a great job.

Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ Entrepreneur Boot Camp for Veterans

The Entrepreneur Boot Camp for Veterans was started in 2007 at Syracuse University and is led by Micheal Haynie, Ph.D. Since the first year, the Entrepreneur Boot Camp for Veterans has expanded and is now held on eight university campuses across the U.S. The program has a rolling admission process and is broken up over three phases. The first phase is online self-study, which helps participants solidify their business idea. After the self-study, phase two is a nine-day in-person program consisting of workshops and lectures by entrepreneurs and business professors. This portion of Entrepreneur Boot Camp for Veterans is to help participants gain a better understanding of everything involved in owning a business. Imagine an MBA program without the group projects, or deep soft skills, shoved into nine days. The final phase is actually running your company, with assistance from some very good advisors. The faculty from the participating programs are available to answer questions as you get started on the path to business ownership. If you have the time to spend nine days on a campus and finish the self-study portion, I highly recommend it. One point I left out, it’s free! There is no charge to the veteran participants. Check out the application process here.

Techstars Patriot Boot Camp

PBC is a three-day workshop that in the words of the program director, Taylor McLemore, demonstrates

… that veterans and military spouses are capable of launching and scaling ventures across a diverse spectrum of sectors. From education technology companies like Uvize to social advertising technology from PopAD, the veterans and military spouses are leading a new wave of entrepreneurship.

During the workshop, you will hear from world-class entrepreneurs and veterans who have found their own success in business ownership. The program also includes one-on-one mentor sessions with professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and industries. On the final day, participants have the opportunity to practice and deliver their pitches. This program is also free to attend, but participants must pay for their travel and accommodations.

Hosted annually, the last workshop was in NYC at the global headquarters of Goldman Sachs in May 2014. If you missed it this year, you are in luck as the next one is targeted for Fall 2014. Keep an eye on the website for dates.

VetCap from VetsInTech

VetsInTech, a great organization in its own right, has just helped launch VetCap to assist veterans find funding for their new businesses. This initiative was launched after a workshop put together by Joining Forces and the Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted at the White House. The idea is to bring veterans together with angel investors, venture capitalists, and successful entrepreneurs to learn how to raise capital. No matter how great your idea, cash is still king. Raising money can be a great or horrible experience and those who are looking to assist veterans’ ideas can make a real difference.

The first workshop was just held on May 14 and more dates will be published soon. VetsInTech plans to hold the series multiple times across the country, so make sure to follow the website for future dates and cities.

Josh Holley was an enlisted Marine from 2002 to 2006. After his military service he obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University, respectively, and is currently is a financial consultant with a Big Four accounting firm.

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