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The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is always ready to express gratitude to the men and women who have served their country. This gratitude is expressed to those who are now braving the entrepreneurial path by connecting them with resources and benefits to start or grow their business. This week, more than ever, VAMBOA would like to offer a special salute to all Veteran business owners during National Small Business Week 2014.

President Obama proclaimed May 12-16 2014 as National Small Business Week in order to recognize entrepreneurs and small business owners as the “lifeblood” of our nation’s economy. Small businesses employ more than half of America’s workforce, and are responsible for creating almost two out of every three new jobs each year.

Each year, National Small Business Week is hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This year’s events kicked off on May 13th at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. There are also scheduled events for this year’s festivities at Burns and McDonnell headquarters in Kansas City, MO; the Microsoft New England R&D Center in Boston, MA; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

VAMBOA is a non-profit Veteran business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. VAMBOA recognizes the special skill-set and experience with leadership that these individuals bring to their businesses and to our local, state, national and global economies. With the right resources, Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners are highly qualified to build successful businesses.

VAMBOA is here to serve as a conduit to those Veteran business owners and the resources they need to thrive.

VAMBOA advises all Veteran business owners to take advantage of the events and discussions taking place this week as part of National Small Business Week. Business owners should also be made aware that the SBA will be conducting webinars and other live-streamed events. Interested individuals can register online at www.sba.gov/smallbusinessweek. For more information about National Small Business week visit the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov.

VAMBOA: National Small Business Week Commences: By Debbie Gregory

Small Business Administration visit

Maria Contreras-Sweet took office of administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on April 7th. Contreras-Sweet took little time to get started. And in her first few weeks, she has already made efforts to show Veterans that they are a priority for her and her tenure as head of the SBA.

On April 15, Contreras-Sweet met at the Pentagon with service members who are enrolled in the SBA’s “Operation Boots to Business” program. The program is the product of a coalition between the SBA, the DOD, the VA and Syracuse University that provides transitioning service members with the knowledge and resources to succeed as entrepreneurs. The new SBA head spoke to a class of 20 transitioning airmen and sailors who are seriously considering starting their own businesses.

Contreras-Sweet relayed to the Boots to Business group the need for Veteran businesses to succeed. After all, there are currently almost 2.5 million Veteran owned businesses in the U.S. that employ a combined 5.8 million employees. Veteran owned businesses comprise 9% of all U.S. small businesses. But on top of all that, Conteras-Sweet told the group that she wants to make certain that those who served their country also get a chance to prosper after their service.

To provide an example of her previous record with assisting Veteran entrepreneurs, Contreras-Sweet spoke to the group about her time spent leading the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Contreras-Sweet said that whenever her agency was hiring out contracts, she always made sure that contracts were provided for Veteranowned companies.

“There’s no point in getting people ready for business and then not giving them the opportunity to do the business,” she told them, “particularly with the government that they fought so hard to defend.”

Contreras-Sweet reminded the future Veteran entrepreneurs, that companies including: FedEX, Chik-Fil-A, Nike and Proctor & Gamble were all started by Veteran entrepreneurs. The SBA administrator believes that there is no coincidence that these Veteran owned businesses became the industry giants they are today. She told the group that many skills that they learned and honed in the military can translate to civilian jobs. At the top of these skills is leadership.

“…your service has given you unique qualifications to lead, and leadership is the holy grail of entrepreneurship,” Contreras-Sweet said.

The administrator promised the Operation Boots to Business group that the SBA would do all that they could to help their businesses get off the ground and grow.

“I want the SBA to have a long-term relationship with you,” she said. “And I want you to tell me if something works or doesn’t work. I want to hear from you directly about how the SBA can do more and how we can do better.”

VAMBOA: New SBA Head Encouraging Veteran Business Owners

Tech stars

Since 2007, Techstars has helped fledgling entrepreneurs in the tech industry find startup capital, as well as making networking and mentoring contacts that have catapulted these companies to success. Now, through a program called Patriot Boot Camp, Techstars is helping Veteran entrepreneurs realize their dreams of creating their own successful tech companies.

Patriot Boot Camp is a three day program that offers educational information and the ability to make invaluable business mentors and networking contacts to 50-75 Veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses each session. Leaders of Patriot Boot Camp like to think of the program as a bridge that allows access for Veterans to enter the tech entrepreneur community.

The stated mission of Techstar’s Patriot Boot Camp is to give Veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses the tools and resources they need to be successful entrepreneurs, and help them build companies of scale and impact. Their mission is based on four fundamental beliefs:

  • Veterans possess skills and experience that make them successful entrepreneurs
  • Empowering Veterans and military spouses to start their own companies will help them become the commanders of their own financial security
  • Providing opportunities for Veteran entrepreneurs will help solve Veteran unemployment, because they typically hire other Veterans
  • Veteran owned businesses will be at the vanguard of economic growth in the United States

This year’s Patriot Boot Camp will be held May 16-18, 2014, at the Goldman Sachs building in New York City. The tentative schedule of events for the program is as follows:

Day 1: Basic entrepreneurial education on conceptualizing, creating and building upon your own successful tech business.

Day 2: Patriot Boot Camp provides its participants with more than 50 well-established mentors who offer one-on-one mentoring sessions. These sessions are invaluable to Veteran entrepreneurs who are new to the tech industry. At past boot camps, these mentors have included such high profile industry players as Union Square Ventures co-founder Fred Wilson; former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. George Casey Jr.; Founder and CEO of Buzzcar Robin Chase; and Techstars co-founder David Brown.

Day 3: Special Pitch Competition that pits idea-stage entrepreneurs against owners of established companies in a friendly competition that teaches participants the benefits of creating an effective pitch.

The program is always free to Veterans, active duty military and military spouses, and includes a continental breakfast and lunch for each day. Techstars provides the program as a thank you to Veterans for their service and as a means of recognizing their value and potential as entrepreneurs. However, dinner meals, travel arrangements and hotel accommodations are covered by the participants at their own expense.

Some of the previous participants have gone on to create and expand such companies as Uvize, Wedding Worthy, Hyprloco and the Travelst.

But one of the best things about the program is that Veteran entrepreneurs aren’t required to own a business in order to participate in Patriot Boot Camp; companies can still be in the conceptual stage.

VAMBOA sees the Patriot Boot Camp as a great opportunity for Veterans who have just recently started or are looking to start their own tech company. The resources, including information, access to mentors and networking contacts can help boost and benefit any young company.

Participants in Patriot Boot Camp are not automatically eligible for other Techstars programs. For more information about Techstars, visit their site at www.techstars.com

For more information about Patriot Boot Camp, visit www.techstars.com/patriotbootcamp.

Veterans Taking on Business Ownership En Masse

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VAMBOA storm

Leadership can be found at the core of every Veteran. Any service member who completed any length of enlistment has followed the orders of their superiors, and most have had some experience in a leadership role. Starting as low as E-4 on the rank hierarchy, many Veterans saw responsibility in extreme situations, that could have a major impact on the lives of their subordinates. Because of this type of experience, Veterans don’t shy away from the ultimate civilian leadership role of owning a business and being responsible for the livelihoods of their employees.

Possibly due to their military leadership experiences, Veterans are taking on the challenges of business ownership en masse. According to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA)’s Office of Advocacy March 2012 report, there are nearly two and a half million Veteran owned businesses in the U.S. Veteran owned businesses make up nearly 10% of all businesses nation-wide.  They also employ close to six million people, including fellow Veterans.

For a company to be considered “Veteran owned,” a Veteran must maintain at least 51% of the business’ ownership. The federal government, as well as state and local governments, make special provisions that protect Veteran owned businesses. They do so by setting aside government contracts specifically for Veteran businesses. Additionally, an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies have also made pledges to sub-contract with Veteran owned companies.

Studies have shown that 70% of American consumers would prefer to frequent Veteran owned businesses. The proof is in the dollars. Veteran owned businesses account for almost $1.25 trillion in sales receipts each year. Veteran small businesses make up 78.1% of small businesses, with yearly sales of $100,000 or more.

Veterans and service-disabled Veterans who are interested in starting their own companies, or expanding their existing businesses are encouraged to seek membership in the Veteran And Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA). VAMBOA offers its members contract opportunities and networking contacts with large corporations. Membership is free.

tibbetts

Since 1998, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded the Tibbetts Award to small businesses and individuals who have exemplify the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. And since 2011, the SBA has inducted previous awardees who have exhibited long-term success in research, innovation and commercialization within the SBIR program into the SBIR Hall of Fame.

The Tibbetts Award is named for Roland Tibbetts, founder of the SBIR program. There are two types of Tibbetts Awards; one is presented to businesses who have participated in the SBIR or SSTTR programs, and the other award is presented to individuals who have not received assistance from, but who have supported, SBIR and STTR programs. The awards are presented to companies and individuals who promote the mission and goals of the SBIR and STTR programs.

Tibbetts Award winners are chosen based on the economic impact of their technological innovation, and on whether they have met federal research and development needs, encouraged diverse participation in technological innovation, and increased the commercialization of federal research. Former SBIR Hall of Fame winners include Qualcomm, IRobot and Symantec.

All award winners are selected by the SBA, based on the recommendations of a panel of judges. All winners will be invited to the awards program in June at the annual SBIR National Conference at the National Harbor.

The SBA offers the SBIR and the STTR programs for small businesses that are looking to showcase their technological inventions in the commercial marketplace. The SBIR program is a three-phase award program that encourages small businesses to explore their technological potential and helps them profit from their inventions.

The SBA is currently asking for Nominations for 2014 Tibbetts Awards and SBIR Hall of Fame winners.  Information about applications, including how to apply online, can be found at http://www.sbir.gov/news/2014-tibbetts-and-hall-fame-award-nominations.

The deadline to nominate is 11:59 pm EDT on Friday May 2, 2014.

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