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3 resources to help vetrepreneurs start their own businesses in Greater Philadelphia

On this Veterans Day, meet the Small Business Special Forces Incubator, Veterans in Residence and Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network.

Small Business Special Forces Incubator's first cohort. (Courtesy photo)

Veterans are about 45% more likely to be self-employed than others, per the U.S. Small Business Administration. One theory as to why?

“In the military, missions have to be completed no matter what,” former Bunker Labs Northeast Experience Director Adam Nelson, an Iraq war veteran and himself an entrepreneur, told Technical.ly in February. “That same mentality is applied in the business world. You want to be successful no matter what so you can support your family.”

In honor of Veterans Day, here’s how a few local organization are supporting startups and veteran entrepreneurs who hope to get their business off the ground.

Small Business Special Forces Incubator

Temple University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and veteran entrepreneurship-focused nonprofit Warrior Rising teamed up to launch a new incubator, the Small Business Special Forces Incubator, for veterans at Temple’s SBDC outpost on its Ambler campus.

This free, six-month program, which kicked off its first cohort on Sept. 25, will provide mentorship, workspace, business-planning classes and a chance to pitch ideas. Participants learn skills such as marketing, operations, capital growth and navigating tax credits. Grants from Warrior Rising will also be available for pre-venture businesses.

The first cohort — which includes a printmaker, a health and wellness coach, a cardboard manufacturer and a caterer— will meet to present their final business plans on Dec. 18.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Warrior Rising to partner with Temple SBDC to bring our program of instruction for business startup and growth to Greater Philadelphia-area veteran entrepreneurs,” said Warrior Rising Programming Chair Ken Vennera in a statement. “Warrior Rising looks forward to continuing to assist veterans with building upon their military training and experience to become successful in their own businesses.”

Bunker Labs + WeWork’s Veterans in Residence

Veterans-serving nonprofit Bunker Labs and coworking giant WeWork offer their six-month entrepreneurship training program, Veterans in Residence, in 15 cities nationwide. Each cohort offers 10 veterans or veteran spouses six months of free office space, access to events, mentorship, and programming related to branding, scaling operations, raising capital and marketing.

Philadelphia’s iteration launched in 2017. Its second cohort graduated this past March and included companies ranging from on-demand hair styling to a digital marketing agency.

Veterans in Residence is very much a partnership, said Kyle Reighard, a Philadelphia city leader at Bunker Labs: “On our end, we construct all the … knowledge-based, technology-based [curriculum] for all the businesses, while WeWork provides all the space and networking opportunities,” he said.

The Philly program’s next cohort will be introduced at an event on Nov. 14 at WeWork’s 1900 Market St. location. Carlo Aragoncillo, the City of Philadelphia’s director of veterans affairs, will speak.

Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network (GPVN)

Founded by Navy vet Alex Archawski in 2010, the Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network (GPVN) provides career and entrepreneurship training for veterans while connecting corporations to veteran-owned businesses.

On Nov. 20, GPVN will host a live networking and business lead generation event as part of its Veteran Business Referral Network at WorkMerk in Conshohocken. November’s guest speaker is career service pro Sonia Jones who will speak about on the “Transition Back To Civilian Life: Self Promotion and Networking.”

GPVN will also host its seventh annual Veteran Shark Tank on Dec. 9 at Fitler Club. At the Comcast NBCUniversal-sponsored event, veteran entrepreneurs who shared their business ideas in five different cities will pitch to win a $50,000 award.

P.S. Despite strong numbers for entrepreneurship, underemployment hits veterans hard. Read this Generocity guest post on why you should consider hiring a veteran.

Companies: WeWork / Greater Philadelphia Veterans Network / Temple University

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