After Beau Sidell spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, she became a dental hygienist, and followed up with two years of pre-med classes. She became interested in alternative medicine, and it has inspired her to begin her own business—a non-profit organization called Wild Mane Ranch, where veterans will help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to learn eco-friendly, sustainable skills and alternative therapies.
Sidell and 16 additional veterans developed their business plans, networked, and were encouraged to bring their dreams to reality in a unique program developed by the UTC College of Business. For the second consecutive year, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) offered free experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to our nation’s disabled and “service distinguished” veterans.
Based on a very successful model at Oklahoma State University, The VEP was created in direct response to the unique challenges of service disabled veterans with physical or psychological disability.
“The VEP builds on the existing skills that veterans learn from their military careers and helps them focus those skills toward the creation of new ventures through intense entrepreneurial training and mentoring. Our goal is to help veterans create businesses as a means to their own financial wellbeing, and we are honored to provide the VEP to those that have already done so much for this country,” said Dr. Robert Dooley, Dean of the UTC College of Business.
Delegates completed an online five-week self-study component of the VEP, which helped them further develop their business concepts and prepare for a weeklong on-campus Bootcamp.
Fyke Fisher, who served in the U.S. Air Force, wishes he had participated in the VEP before he launched his Chattanooga business, Ridgeline Logistics LLC, in 2012.
“As a result of the VEP experience, I am restructuring my entire business plan. I am finding many areas I can improve upon. The VEP helps find the holes in your business so that you can take it to the next level,” Fisher explained.
Another delegate, Elizabeth Beske, who served in the U.S. Navy, was engaged by the synergies she experienced in the VEP. She and another delegate are considering working together to merge their business interests.
Beske’s plan is to bridge the gap for small business owners and families who cannot pay the high fees traditional Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firms charge. She wants to open offices across the country which will offer services in the office and online.
“I want to revolutionize the accounting field,” Beske exclaimed. “We’re not just bean counters. That stereotype is like nails on the blackboard.”
Beske and Fisher were elected by their fellow delegates to begin an alumni association for VEP delegates. Fisher says the goal of the alumni association will be to drive individuals toward the VEP who are serious about starting their own business.
Now that the Bootcamp phase of the VEP is complete, delegates can look forward to ten months of ongoing mentorship from entrepreneurship experts at the UTC College of Business as well as online peer networking.
“This is an amazing program,” Beske said.
To learn more, visit the VEP online.