Entrepreneurship is all about transforming challenges into opportunities and so are entrepreneurs themselves. The success of a start-up is never smooth, there are numerous social and financial barriers as well as increased competitiveness that have to be overcome before hitting smooth ground. For veterans however, the sheer passion that has driven them throughout their military career, makes entrepreneurship an ideal career path to choose. In the United States alone, veteran entrepreneurs employ millions of people with a combined payroll of $200 billion and accounting for almost 10 percent of all businesses in the country.
There is a strong debate whether entrepreneurs are born or trained but leadership remains at the core of both arguments as the common factor. Starting a business has proven to be the ideal transition for veterans into civilian life, their management skills, discipline, focus and determination makes them ideal leaders to take on challenges and turn them into opportunities.
Following are the top 3 upcoming entrepreneurs with a veteran background trying to take over the world with their unique ideas and are achieving great milestones serving as a motivation for out-of-the-box thinkers to follow suit.
Zachary L Green
Zachary has had the privilege of receiving numerous honors and accolades over the years for his achievements in and out of military service. What makes him one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs are the companies that he has founded and is actively managing. He is the founder of MN8, a company that was backed up by $4 million in venture funding and grossed over $30mm in organic sales.
While another rocket-ship, in both start-up and scientific language, Green co-founded Velontra, an aerospace company that specializes in hypersonic weapons and non-rocket fueled low earth orbit access. The products are manufactured by the company under three brands are used by thousands of firefighters and three of the largest retail networks with Home Depot as the newest upcoming corporate user. That’s not all, Zachary also has a book to his name “Warrior Entrepreneur” that made it to the Amazon best seller within its first week of sales in a number of countries and categories. He talks about his experiences through the essence of a warrior that compliments leadership and entrepreneurial skills and keeps them focused on their dreams.
More than a decade ago, Griffin was just getting started with brainstorming about founding his company Combat Flip Flops. The company now has $4 million dollars in revenue and is thriving as one of the most valued veteran-owned and operated businesses. No one on the team, including Griffin, had a business degree and neither did he have a bootstrapping plan or the resources to take his idea off the ground. But Griffin took the first step and went ahead with founding the company anyway, which most entrepreneurs and mentors says is the hardest stage for any start-up as it takes a lot of courage and boldness to dive into the unknown.
Next, he pitched to 60 angels or so before finally finding the right investor willing to take a chance on Griffin and his idea. This wasn’t the happy moment, not as yet at least, soon after he had to move his manufacturing facility to his garage and were then able to produce the first 4000 pairs for the company. Today, Combat Flip Flop is a renowned as well as one of the most respected brands of flip flops. According to Griffin, “if the elevator to success is broken, you’ve got to take the stairs”.
Another interesting success story is that of Evan Hafer, the founder of Black Riffle Coffee. The company sells premium roast to order coffee with a sense of national pride. A common factor between the two previously mentioned entrepreneurs and Evan is the need he found while in military service. Evan started off with refining his coffee on a batch-to-batch basis during his deployments and mastered it through trial and error. His company today not only serves a number of varieties in roasted beans but also offers gear and apparel.
Recently, the Black Riffle Company was listed on stock exchange and has so far generated $230 million in revenue. According to Evan, his time in military service taught him that nothing is impossible as long as an individual try and that there is an opportunity to succeed, every other second in life, lessons that he has used to establish the company and make it a success.