Creating opportunity
6 Incredible Stories About Veterans to Inspire You
Free Enterprise Staff | September 2, 2015

September 2nd, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the day Japan officially surrendered aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Because it’s an important date in American history, we wanted to spotlight stories about veterans and military spouses. Here are 6 of our favorites from the past year.

1. Mountaineer Technology Ventures

Susan Standifird, who served in the military for 11 years prior to starting a six-year stint as a teacher, is the founder and CEO of Mountaineer Technology Ventures. Standifird started the company in 2013 after, she says, she came up with an idea for an app while talking with her husband.

“I started talking to my husband about the situations we were having with the family,” she told Free Enterprise during an interview earlier this year. “The real frustrating and repeating one was that our kids were not answering our calls or texts when we needed to touch base or have them do something for us. And so I decided to start my own company and get in to developing apps.”

Standifird spent the next year teaching herself how to build an app on multiple mobile platforms. From that year-long effort came Ignore No more, the app she released this past summer that gives parents the ability to lock their kids’ smartphones by entering a password. It’s only after your son or daughter has called you back that his or her phone is unlocked.

Though the app earned Standifird instant notoriety upon its release, she has spent little time basking in the glow of press coverage. “I really have enjoyed the process, and I have some other app ideas that are related around family issues. Ignore No More has also opened doors for us, because we realized that this can be used in many different arenas, she said.”

Read the full story here: “How Unanswered Texts Led Military Veteran Susan Standifird to Start Her Own Business

2. VetPrestige

We learned about VetPrestige this past summer, when we spent some time at the Georgetown University Entrepreneurship Initiative—more commonly referred to as “Startup Hoyas” by students. Led by Jeff Reid and Alyssa Lovegrove, the program helps budding student entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground through programs like the Startup Hoyas Summer Launch Program, a highly-selective, two-month incubator.

Georgetown graduate student Scott Thompson was among the nearly 30 entrepreneurs who participated in this year’s summer program. It was there that the military veteran honed the idea behind his company, VetPrestige, a professional networking community specifically crafted for military veterans with advanced skills and academic backgrounds.

Officially launched this fall, VetPrestige hopes to give veterans who attended rigorous colleges and universities the opportunity to find professional positions that are best suited for their backgrounds. It also offers resources to employers looking to hire these veterans, Thompson says.

Check out this film we made on Startup Hoyas, and hear Thompson talk about VetPrestige here: “Startup Hoyas: Teaching Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University

3. Two Marines Moving

One of our most popular stories this year was a profile of Two Marines Moving. Founded by Nick Baucom, who served in the Marines from 2002 to 2008, the company offers moving services to homeowners and businesses in and around Washington, D.C. Setting itself apart from the competition, Two Marines Moving primarily employs military veterans.

After leaving the Marines, Baucom was unsure of where his professional career would take him. However, he later had an ‘ah-ha’ moment that led him to where he is today, Baucom told Free Enterprise during an interview this past summer.

“I regularly received phone calls from family and friends asking me to help them move, saying they could use a good, strong Marine to help them take care of all their heavy items,” he said. “I saw an opportunity. I wasn’t going to do this for beer and pizza anymore.”

With that realization under his belt, Baucom officially founded Two Marines Moving, which celebrates its six-year anniversary today, having been officially incorporated on November 10th, 2008—the same day the Marines Corps was founded in 1775.

You can check out our full profile of Baucom, who participated in the first-ever Free Enterprise panel at this year’s Small Business Summit, here: “Two Marines Moving: How One Veteran Started His Own Business

4. Dog Tag Bakery

Located in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, Dog Tag Bakery provides an array of services designed to help military veterans acquire the skills they’ll need to succeed in business.

Co-founded by Fr. Rick Curry, S.J., and Connie Milstein, Dog Tag Inc. has teamed with Georgetown University to offer vets access to a number of business courses, as well as training and mentorship programs that teach everything from business administration to entrepreneurship. Military veterans also staff Dog Tag Bakery, where they learn practical skills and acquire the hands-on experience that is so crucial when launching a company.

After a successful pilot run that graduated 10 veterans, Dog Tag has expanded for the second iteration of its innovative program, with 20 participants—a group that includes veterans, caregivers, and spouses—slated to take part. It has also seen its influence grow thanks to newly formed partnerships with organizations like Hiring Our Heroes, and the bakery has had to expand its hours to accommodate an influx of foot traffic.

You can learn more about Dog Tag Bakery here: “Military Veterans Learn Business Skills at D.C.’s Dog Tag Bakery”

5. Coalition for Veteran Owned Business

The Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) is a newly launched initiative that was created to provide guidance, support, and mentorship to veteran owned businesses across the Untied States.

Originally developed through a partnership between First Data and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, the CVOB quickly garnered the backing of a number of prominent organizations: Its founder members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Express, the Small Business Administration, and Verizon Communications.

The CVOB ‘s mission is to connect veteran owned businesses and facilitate networking and business opportunities, James Schmeling, the managing director for programming at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, told Free Enterprise.

“This is the next step in identifying the opportunities for veterans and their families post-service,” he said in an interview last month. “While there are many opportunities for veterans to start businesses, this melds the training and education, awareness of opportunities, and demand for products and services for veteran and military family-owned businesses.”

To find out more about the work the CVOB is doing to help veterans and military families, check out our piece on the new organization here: “Coalition for Veteran Owned Business Launches”

6. Our Two-Part Q&A With General Colin Powell

Last year at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Summit, we had the opportunity to sit down for a wide-ranging interview with General Colin Powell.

During our half-hour sit down, we asked General Powell questions about leadership, his background, and his decision-making process, among many other topics we covered. (By the end of our interview, we even had him talking about his favorite television shows, Ellen DeGeneres, and selfies.)

Disarming and gregarious, General Powell nonetheless didn’t mince words when we asked him about Congressional gridlock and other hot-button topics. In characteristic poise, he carefully stated his opinions while still managing to crack a joke.

To learn more about the retired general and former Secretary of State, You can check out both installments of our multi-part interview with General Powell here and here.