Oklahoma State University is now accepting applications for its annual program helping disabled veterans launch and grow their own businesses.
The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, or VEP, is an entrepreneurial training program designed to empower veterans by providing them critical resources to turn their business ideas into workable business models, helping them create companies and sustainable ventures.
“The heart of our VEP includes lectures, workshops, and instruction in decision-making, product development, project management, contracts, manufacturing, and operations, the skills required to start and maintain real businesses,” said Craig Watters, professor in entrepreneurship and interim director of the Riata Center of Entrepreneurship.
The VEP is presented each year by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and the School of Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. The yearlong program offers a three-phase, hands-on learning opportunity. Participants complete an online self-study session and an intense eight-day on-campus boot camp conducted by world-class entrepreneurship educators and successful entrepreneurs, which is followed by 10 months of mentoring and support from the Tulsa Rotary and volunteer entrepreneurs.
The VEP is provided free of charge – including transportation, accommodations, books, food and instruction – to accepted applicants. OSU alumni and supporters have rallied around the program and donated thousands of dollars to help make VEP possible each year.
There are a limited number of positions available and interested veterans are encouraged to submit their application as early as possible.
Drew and Heather Gomer, a married couple from Oklahoma City, took the knowledge learned from the program to open their own companies after attending the 2013 Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. Heather is the CEO and co-founder of Advanced Flight Training Solutions and she recently signed an operating agreement with the airport in Yukon, Okla., where the Sundance Flight Academy already has one airplane, an instructor and several students. Drew recently started Military Morph, a job placement service for veterans separating from the military.
“I showed up to VEP with a business concept. The professors and entrepreneurs that made VEP possible guided me through the process of turning my idea into reality,” said Heather Gomer. “At the end of the course, when I pitched by business concept, every single panel member noted that they would invest in the company I was proposing to start. That was the beginning for me. I walked away from VEP with not only the knowledge I needed to get started, but also the support and encouragement I needed at the time.”
Drew Gomer says the program is changing his life. “I would absolutely recommend the VEP program for veterans who are motivated, driven and interested in growing or starting a business,” said Drew Gomer. “This program provides all the tools for success and I would recommend it to all veterans interested in starting or growing their business. I learned more in this course in a week than I did in the two-and-a-half year self-study of entrepreneurship.
“I had the luxury of attending the program with my wife, Heather, who quit her day job a month after the program and has been fully focused on seeing her business succeed and grow. The business I am creating is rewarding, challenging and will be my greatest accomplishment to date once it becomes profitable.”
Applications for the 2013-2014 VEP are available online and are due by Oct. 1, 2013.