Since the beginning of 2012 I have been working to prove out a self-funding business model for use by aspiring Service Disabled Veteran entrepreneurs (SDVs), especially those with manageable PTSD. Initially, revenue streams come from two sources: 1) franchisors that use advertising services to market their offerings to veterans and 2) training revenues from the Veterans Administration and other custom training services provided to SDVs. Our ultimate customers are Veterans who want the best values and service in the franchising industry and aspiring SDVs who want to learn how to facilitate opportunities for other Veterans. Our peer-to-peer support method is the best way to help veterans transition back to their communities. Communities are keen to participate with SDVs businesses, including franchises, that can offer positive economic benefits.
Our greatest challenge is trying to go to scale, while blending in volunteers from multiple mentoring resources in an organized way. I decided to become an “investigative entrepreneur”, personally experiencing the difficult challenges that transitioning veterans face in trying to start a new business. So far the journey has been complex, but I believe a good CRM system will help simplify and replicate service. My goal is to continue operating VBS at a profit while training four SDVs to master the system.
I’m proud of the fact I’ve received support from the federal and state government, elite universities, foundations, community development activists and, most importantly, SDVs to further my social enterprise ideas for Veterans. I’m also proud that I’m humbly asking for help here to complete my journey. The crowdfunding dollars are important, but personal support at a grassroots level will be critical to our success. I’m most proud of the fact that I’m a Veteran in a business that can help both Veterans and communities.
The Kiva Zip loan and crowdfunding process will be my first public financial campaign. Its success will lay the foundation for scale. Even going through the process will help strengthen our experiential approach to help SDVs help themselves and others in small business. As to the impact on me personally, it will allow me to fulfill a dream of helping entrepreneurs who have a real sense of community and giving back. I find it ironic and wonderful that some of the bravest servicemen and women, the so called Service Disabled Veterans, will play a unique role in re-building local economies and improving the processes for everyone.
Visit the VBS Kiva Loan at http://zip.kiva.org/loans/9343/i/onx6