- Free University Entrepreneurship Training. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University is the national leader in veterans entrepreneurship training. IVMF organizes the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a free training program for post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability. This program is offered by a consortium of great universities including Cornell, Syracuse, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Purdue, UConn, LSU, Saint Joseph’s, and the University of Missouri. EBV consists of an online, instructor-led 30-day curriculum, followed by a 9-day in-residence session at the university. Participants also receive follow-up support and mentoring after the program. EBV has produced over 1,300 graduates in 10 years serving veterans. IVMF also has separate entrepreneurship training programs for veterans’ families (called EBV-F) and one specifically for women veterans (V-Wise). I’ve been privileged to speak at a couple of these events and was impressed with the quality of the students and mentors. Air Force veteran, Derek Ketelsen, who attended the EBV at Cornell University, described it this way: “EBV is a priceless experience for vetrepreneurs. I received Ivy League instruction from Cornell professors, learned a great deal about entrepreneurship, and most importantly the program helped me develop my business concept.” EBV runs programs from March through November each year. Seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. All costs are covered for qualified participants.
- Free 3-Day Technology Entrepreneurship Training. For aspiring technology entrepreneurs, Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) is a shorter, more condensed alternative. Since starting in 2012, PBC has held 9 programs in 7 cities and trained over 550 veterans, active-duty members, and spouses. PBC historically hosts 2-3 events per year, including two intensive 3-day entrepreneurship bootcamps and an alumni conference. I spoke and mentored at PBC’s 2015 event at Goldman Sachs in NYC. The energy at a PBC event is palpable. PBC is a non-profit organization, run by Charlotte Creech, an alumna of PBC’s inaugural program in 2012. “Many active duty military members, veterans, and their spouses have an interest in tech entrepreneurship but often lack the community support and network needed to effectively guide them to the right resources,” Charlotte said. PBC fills this gap. The results of the graduates are impressive. Charlotte told me that PBC graduates include successful exits via acquisition, 8 accepted to Techstars accelerator programs, 2 accepted to Y-Combinator, and 2 graduates appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank TV show, including a $1.5M offer from Mark Cuban . A 2016 sample of 55 graduates found they are generating a combined $9.5M in annual revenue and employing 1,175 individuals. This year, PBC is holding a bootcamp in San Antonio in February, another bootcamp in Denver in the fall, and an alumni event. Attendance at PBC is encouraged if you’re considering a tech startup. PBC is free to veterans, active-duty members, and spouses.
Bonus: Keep an eye on current legislation. The Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act (VET Act), originally proposed in 2015, would allow the SBA to conduct a 3-year pilot program for up to 250 veterans to use their GI Bill benefits to start a business. The Act had widespread support from veterans’ groups, but did not receive a full Congressional vote before year’s end. The new Congress will need to get this legislation across the goal line.