OSU’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program
attracts 31 for across U.S. for boot camp

by Terry Tush 
(January 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm)

VEP logoThe Spears School of Business will host 31 military veterans for an intensive, eight-day entrepreneurial boot camp Feb. 7-14 on the campus of Oklahoma State University.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) continues to attract national attention as it enters its sixth year in empowering American military veterans as they turn their business ideas into workable business models. The program is designed for veterans who are interested in starting a venture as a means to financial independence or have an existing business that they would like to grow.

“As a land-grant university, we are called to serve veterans,” said Misty Stutsman, manager of events and outreach for the OSU School of Entrepreneurship. “The Riata Center for Entrepreneurship takes a lot of pride in VEP because there is no better way to thank them for what they have done than to teach them about the significance of being entrepreneurs.

“We believe in teaching them practical skills to become self-sufficient and in turn, helping other fellow veterans. An important part of the program is the network of veterans that we’ve built, all who have similar passions and goals that can support each other from a personal and a business resource standpoint.”

Participating in the 2015 VEP includes veterans from nearly every branch of the United States military, including the Air Force (8 enrollees), Army (15), Marines (2) and Navy (6). They will be traveling to OSU from their homes across the United States, including California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

Like a military boot camp, the eight-day residency is intense, rigorous and demanding. It is an opportunity for hands-on learning and interaction with world-class faculty, guest entrepreneurs, business experts and others. The boot camp exposes the participants to the nuts and bolts of business ownership through experiential workshops and lessons.

There is no cost to the veterans to participate in the VEP. The entire program – transportation, accommodations, books, food and instruction – is provided free of charge to each of the participants.

“For the past 6 years, the program has been supported by OSU alumni and donors that have a passion for veterans,” Stutsman said. “Our faculty members and industry experts donate their time and the community comes together to make sure they are accommodated. VEP would not be possible without their generous support.”

Since the program was started in 2010, VEP has graduated more than 200 veterans from the consortium of universities (Oklahoma State, Florida and Tennessee-Chattanooga). Over the past six years, over 50 veterans have launched a new business, 75 have experienced sustain growth, and 24 have added new employees (half of which employ other veterans).

Of the thriving businesses that VEP have assisted, 15 have revenues between $100,000 and $500,000, nine report revenues between $1 million and $5 million, and one has revenues in excess of $5 million.

The VEP is presented by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Entrepreneurship in the OSU Spears School of Business and offers a three-stage learning experience. Participants complete an online self-study sessions over a five-week period in December and January, travel to OSU’s Stillwater campus for the eight-day on-campus boot camp, followed by 10 months of ongoing mentoring from entrepreneurship experts at OSU and online peer-to-peer networking.

For more information about the VEP, visit http://riata.okstate.edu/veterans/.