AVON — “We are looking for a few veterans who want to start their own business,” said John Horan-Kates, President of the Vail Leadership Institute. With support from Accenture and the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac program, the Institute this week announced an entrepreneurial program exclusively for military veterans.
With thousands of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan looking to start a new life, these three organizations are underwriting an opportunity to examine how to launch a business. Exploring Entrepreneurship for Veterans is a three-month program, blending an entrepreneur’s equivalent of an Executive MBA with a personal leadership development element. Participants will develop their concept with a comprehensive business plan guided by the FastTrac New Venture curriculum together with the Institute’s Inside First thinking.
The program is part of the “Entrepreneurs BaseCamp,” an initiative of the Institute that seeks to provide leadership in economic development by helping build new businesses or non-profit organizations in new ways. This approach seeks to integrate an entrepreneur’s head with his heart.
“Of all the programs that the Institute offers, this one really grabs me because of the motivation and initiative I took away from my own service in Vietnam,” Horan-Kates said. “I know many veterans have what it takes to be an entrepreneur — not unlike what the 10th Mountain Division veterans did in building Vail.”
The program will help vets create a sharp vision of their future which links with their military experience, where they likely learned the value of good planning. But as Bob Vanourek, author of “Triple Crown Leadership” and a veteran himself, reminds us, “no plan withstands contact with the enemy.” Thus the program helps people see how to “pivot” when their idea varies from their original concept.
The program unfolds in small groups of eight to 10 vets, who become trusted advisers to one another in developing their concepts. The program also includes mentors to offer guidance and direction.
“The unique approach of integrating head and heart, the rigorous and respected Kauffman FastTrac curriculum, the phenomenal guest speakers and the ability to complete this program in a few months make it an extremely valuable program,” Doug Dusenberry, an early Exploring Entrepreneurship participant, said.
The Exploring Entrepreneurship program will be offered starting with a retreat Sept. 14-15, and continuing with 12 sessions on Fridays at the Frechette BaseCamp at the Walking Mountains Science School in Avon.
The tuition for the program has been underwritten, but a meals and materials fee of $325 is required and covers the two-day off-site retreat, two workbooks, 12 afternoon sessions, and a mentor critique day. Travel and accommodations to the work sessions are not included.