Last month, Erick Mueller, Executive Director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, traveled to Florida to teach veterans how to start and scale their ventures through the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP), a week-long bootcamp for disabled military veterans.
EP is hosted at the University of Florida and veterans don’t pay a dime to attend—40 disabled veterans participated from more than 15 states this year alone. Over a dozen faculty and community members from across the country came to help teach and mentor them, all donating their time to the program. They choose to be of service to those who have sacrificed so much for their country.
“I’m inspired every year I work with our disabled military veterans. Despite their disabilities, they passionately pursue their ventures and don’t settle for anything but excellence. It’s an honor and a privilege to help them on their journey in creating and scaling their ventures.”
Turning problems into successful startups
One veteran, Charlie, started a bee leasing service. He installs a beehive in your home and returns weekly to service the hive. This is working toward solving the rapidly declining bee population problem. His business came about by chance: he constructed a few hives for friends in their backyards, and they didn’t know how to service the hives—nor did they want to. When Charlie stopped by to help out, he soon found more people starting calling him asking him to do the same. Within months, Charlie had more requests than he could handle, so he attended this bootcamp to help him with scaling his growing venture.
Another veteran, Eddie, is solving the issue of basketball referees making incorrect calls on the court by inventing an innovative shot clock. His Shot Clock 2.0 monitors many different violations, such as the 5-second rule for inbound passes as well as the 10-second rule for backcourt violations. He is a former college basketball player, and one of his games was determined by an incorrect 5-second violation, which inspired him to set out to solve this problem.
Jorge, is the founder of AVW, a custom bicycle manufacturer. He specializes in custom bikes for riders with disabilities. Jorge broke his back while in the Army and was paralyzed from the waist down. He was told he would never walk again. However, through grit and determination, not only he was able to walk again, but he also bike rides regularly, since it is one the best therapies to help him recover. He needed a custom bike due to his injury, so he built it! Now, he’s looking to grow his venture to help others with disabilities.
These stories are just one tiny glimpse into the innovative ideas this year’s cohort has in the works. These veterans are solving problems, helping people, and inspiring others all along the way. We’re looking forward to seeing how they grow their ventures in the future. Learn more about the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program.