In addition to all they do for their country overseas, service members are also a markedly entrepreneurial group: although veterans represent only 6% of the U.S. population, they account for an impressive 13.5% of all U.S. small business owners. This entrepreneurial spirit is contributing to business growth around the country, and last week we decided to head down to San Diego to see how Google for Entrepreneurs and Startup Weekend could help.
On August 9, Google for Entrepreneurs, along with the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Startup Weekend, hosted a series of events focused on giving business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from the military community the training and tools they need to take advantage of the web to build and grow businesses. More than 200 service members learned about free tools to create a web site, track and measure their web presence and market their product or service.
Engaged and full of pride, the veteran-owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs came from across California. Misty Birchall, a Navy veteran and founder of PubCakes, delighted attendees when she gave us a taste of her passion for combining baking and craft beer. Marine Corps sergeant turned organic farmer Colin Archipley brought many participants from Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training, an entrepreneurial incubator program he founded to help transitioning veterans train for careers in sustainable agriculture. Even the underdogs (and undercats) were well-represented—Precious Paw Prints, an online retailer selling creative pet accessories owned by Marine veteran Kiersten Carlin, shared that small business can win by providing a higher level of quality and service that larger brands cannot.
Over the following weekend, aspiring entrepreneurs from the veterans community attended the local Startup Weekend, where they formed teams to turn their idea ideas into products. By Sunday night, five teams had launched businesses.
Being a successful entrepreneur means having an appetite for risk, an ability to navigate ambiguity and a passion to get things done at all costs; it’s no mystery why such a large number of small businesses are started by veterans or service-disabled veterans. They certainly have what it takes to be entrepreneurs.
You can read more about our recent programs for members of the veterans’ community here.