My program was for spouses and family members, but EBV (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities) is the program for veterans. We all gather at the national conference to share stories, mingle with like-minded people, in business and as it relates to our military experiences, and to learn how to further or start our businesses. There is a business plan competition as well as a 90-second pitch competition (at which I won 2nd place in 2013), social events for each program’s graduates, and tons of yummy food at lavish dinners and lunches. We are taught by business leaders, fellow entrepreneurs and individuals motivated to help us further our business ideas. At this event, and throughout the year, we graduates have access to these amazing business minds, people we would not have normally met. They are so general with their knowledge that many of us feel obliged to help others who are graduated behind us. It’s like a hand up, and I personally can’t NOT help where I can after receiving from these great people and the organization in general. I owe it to the program to succeed and to help others where I can.
It is difficult as a spouse to find a worthwhile job as you follow your husband or wife to each duty station. There is simply not enough time for many of us to build up a resume when you are moving every two or so years. EBV and EBV-F gives you a 10-day all-expenses-paid program during which you learn all day, work on your pitch in the evening, and focus on you and your business. Even your travel expenses to and from the location are paid. It is an amazing experience and has changed my life. If you are a military spouse, family member of veteran, and have an idea for a business, apply. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I opened my business, Pocket Parks Publishing, two months after I returned home. It was built to publish guides to pocket parks and public spaces around the United States beginning with New York City, the origin of privately owned public spaces (aka pocket parks). I also began Veteran Stories, a service of Pocket Parks Publishing, after returning from the 2014 National Conference at which an instructor gave me the idea to capture veterans’ stories for their families. I now help veterans as well as civilians capture their stories and memories in paperback books they can pass down to their families.
I never would have done any of this without EBV-F and the people who participate, from the entrepreneurs to those who mentor us along the way. I highly urge you to apply if you have an idea for a business, even if you’re not sure it is good enough. The folks at EBV will help you figure out which way to go even if it is just to start all over again.
For more information, visit EBV, EBV-F and the Institute for Veterans Military Families (IVMF).
To those who attended EBV NatCon 2016, I’ll see you there next year!