Hillsborough Community College has launched a new partnership to help military veterans and their spouses get business ideas up and running. The Startup Training Resources to Inspire Veteran Entrepreneurship program, or STRIVE, is a joint effort between HCC’s existing veteran entrepreneurship program, Operation Startup, and Syracuse University’s prestigious Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). HCC in Tampa is the first community college in the country to enter such a partnership with the Syracuse IVMF.
“IVMF is considered to be the national leader in entrepreneurship education for veterans as well as other workforce training resources for veterans,” says HCC Professor Andy Gold, the co-founder of the school’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Operation Startup. “Now our program is tethered to the national network that Syracuse has worked to build over the last 13 years. All of those resources that the IVMF has established are now going to be available to the folks locally that come through the STRIVE program. It’s a huge feather for Tampa Bay’s cap to be able to offer that national brand here in Tampa Bay.”
Through the Syracuse connection, STRIVE participants may have the option of attending the IVMF’s annual Veteran EDGE conference for veteran and military spouse business owners at no cost except travel and have access to a nationwide network of advisors, mentors and subject matter experts. At HCC, the STRIVE program is free to veterans, active-duty military, Reserve/Guard and their spouses. The inaugural session starts in late August. This first cohort will have a cap of approximately 30 participants. The deadline to complete applications is Aug. 23. Gold says those who apply early will receive priority. “It’s for the person who has an idea for starting a business and they are ready to take action or the person who has started a business, they have a legal business entity such as an LLC in place, but they don’t really know how to get the business to the next level,” Gold says.
The three-phase program consists of a week of online training and five to six weeks of in-person training that alternates between weekends and Mondays and covers the different elements of starting a business. Gold says STRIVE will employ a business modeling process to help its Vetrepreneurs map out their business assumptions and then use a rigorous scientific process, coupled with visits to potential customers, to validate or invalidate those assumptions. The course will also cover finances, accounting, management of a small business, integrating employees, and the process of offering new products or services.
“We are really trying to make it an extremely comprehensive program to participants,” Gold says. Each participant will have an adviser or mentor to help with the process of applying for funding and building out a business model. Gold says HCC has peeled away $25,000 from the total $500,000 in seed money available through the entrepreneurship program to go toward STRIVE businesses. Also, veterans and military spouses who complete STRIVE will have the option of enrolling in HCC’s four-course entrepreneurship program. If they complete it, they will be eligible to seek funding from that larger $500,000 pot of seed money. To find out more information about the program, including how to apply, go to this link: STRIVE. For more information on the other programs in this story check out these links: Operation Startup, Veteran EDGE, Syracuse IVMF.