A nonprofit is working to connect returning vets with innovative investors and new companies.
A new nonprofit organization based in Milwaukee, with funds from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ innovation initiative, is supporting entrepreneurial vets.
“Veterans often are educated in the most cutting-edge technologies available,” stated veterans disability attorney James Fausone. “And they have the discipline and drive to succeed.”
The nonprofit, VETransfer, is working with current and returning veterans to help them find the funding and the support they need to launch startups ventures. Cofounders Greg Meier and Nick Weichert believe in focusing on getting small business up and running by pairing them with entrepreneurial vets, and by equipping and financing vets with the resources they require to launch their own projects.
VETransfer does not provide companies or startups with the financing they need; they introduce the right clients to the right investors. They also provide free office space and internet access, and the staff helps develop business plans and navigate regulations.
More than 400 vets have gone through the extensive program at VETransfer since 2011, working with everything from game developers to companies that specialize in frozen foods. While the actual jobs are, for now, based in Wisconsin, there are virtual classes that are utilized by vets across the U.S. The business incubator worked with more than 100 veterans in just the first four months it was running.
Founders Meier and Weichert reportedly are looking at how to expand the program to include more vets; more extensive virtual classes are being considered for areas with concentrated populations of vets, including California, Florida, Washington D.C. and Texas. With current estimates indicating that there will be at least one million vets in theU.S.by 2016, VETransfer is looking for additional funding sources, including grants and donations to help expand their program offerings.
While VETransfer does not and cannot guarantee the success of any venture, the founders are optimistic. So is the VA; based on the success of VETransfer, the VA may be launching another business incubator in the next year via its innovation initiative funding program.