The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is looking to help combat unemployment/underemployment among U.S. military veterans, while simultaneously diversifying the Central Florida economy through its FastTrac NewVenture for the Veteran Entrepreneur program, which will run from Jan. 13 – March 24, 2014. Licensed through the Kauffman Foundation, this 30-hour workshop is specifically designed to help military veterans learn how to turn potential business concepts into a reality.
According to Dr. Thomas O’Neal, executive director of the UCF Business Incubation Program, military veterans often make great entrepreneurs, but sometimes need a little help getting started.
“The military provides our veterans with a tremendous set of skills, including leadership attributes and the ability to achieve objectives, which easily translate to the business world,” said O’Neal. “Both locally and nationally, we have seen many military veterans create very successful companies, and many more veterans can follow suit; they just need some direction and encouragement to get started.”
According to the U.S. Census, nearly 1 in 10, or 2.4 million, small businesses are veteran-owned. These companies employ approximately 6 million Americans and generate more than a trillion dollars in revenue.
Additionally, a 2012 report released by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy found that veterans are 45 percent more likely to start a business when compared to those with no active-duty military experience.
The UCF Business Incubation Program first launched its veterans’ initiative back in January 2013, when Chris Preisler, a former Air Force staff sergeant, served as one of the program’s nine initial participants.
“The program really helps veterans evaluate their strengths, skills and ideas as they transition to civilian life,” said Preisler. “It gave me insight on how to market a business, my competition, finances, legal requirements and other aspects that we’re normally not exposed to in the military.”
Since completing the FastTrac NewVenture for the Veteran Entrepreneur course, Preisler decided to continue to develop his company, CompDesigns Mobile, LLC, at the UCF Business Incubation Program. Preisler’s startup is in the process of launching a new application of 3D technology into the entertainment gaming market with a 3D Sudoku Cube puzzle.
The UCF Business Incubation Program will host an information session Nov. 13 from 2-3 p.m. and again on Nov. 20 from 6-7 p.m., where military veterans can learn more about the upcoming veteran entrepreneurship program, including its discounted rate. The program will be in University Tower, 12201 Research Parkway, Room 211.
The licensed FastTrac NewVenture for the Veteran Entrepreneur course normally costs participants $700, but through sponsorships and donations, the UCF Business Incubation Program is reducing the fee to $100.
“We want our veteran entrepreneurs to have some skin in the game for this program, but we really rely on our community to support our veterans and help them diversify our local economy,” said Michael Weiss, UCF Business Incubation Program development manager.
Organizations and individuals interested in sponsoring the program or a veteran should contact Weiss at Michael.Weiss@ucf.edu or 407-823-0014.