The UTC College of Business Veterans Entrepreneurship Program class of 2017 arrived in Chattanooga on Saturday, July 15 to begin what is known as VEP Boot Camp. Now in its 6th year, the VEP Boot Camp instructors again provided participants with a rigorous schedule. Participating veterans received instruction in Opportunities & Great Business Concepts; Leverage, Risk & Guerrilla Action; HR for Small Business; Financing Your Venture; and many more. In an effort to showcase all that Chattanooga has to offer while still providing learning opportunities, the delegates visited many Chattanooga eateries and businesses including Big Frog Brewing Company (owned by Carter Wexler, 2013 VEP Graduate).

SUSI students prepare food for veterans at Salvation Army with Chef Terry Epps.

As mentioned in a previous post, 22 European SUSI students have been on campus for the last month. Terry Epps (Chef, Salvation Army) and Merri Mai Williamson (Chairperson of the College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board) were two of many local business professionals who have been heavily involved in this year’s SUSI program.

Williamson and Epps helped bring the two programs together (SUSI & VEP) by creating an event where the SUSI students would learn to prepare and serve a meal to the VEP delegates with the help of Chef Epps.

In order to be accepted into the Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Program, applicants were required to show substantial amounts of effort being put forth towards a business idea with the intent to eventually own their own small business, if they are not currently doing so. Throughout the week, each delegate prepared tirelessly for the Elevator Pitch Competition, which occurred at the end of the boot camp. During the competition, each delegate was allotted 3-4 minutes to pitch their business idea as they would to an investor.

2017 VEP Elevator Pitch Winner: Shavonne Simmons

The winner of this year’s VEP Elevator Pitch Competition was Shavonne Simmons!

Winners of additional awards given during boot camp are:

2017 “Dreamer & Doer” Award: Michele Garner

2017 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: William Radford & Terell Jones

2017 Perseverance Award: Sharita Davis

To view additional photos from this year’s VEP Boot Camp, visit our Flickr albums.


To stay up to date on the UTC Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Program, or to apply, visit

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1 Comment » for UTC College of Business Celebrates Graduates of the 2017 Veterans Entrepreneurship Program
  1. Eric W Ratliff Sr says:

    Just in case anyone wonders whether this Bootcamp was worth the time – IT WAS EXCELLENT!!!

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