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Helping Military Vets Build Tech Companies at Patriot Boot Camp

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This weekend I had the opportunity to mentor military veterans entrepreneurs as part of Patriot Boot Camp, Powered by Techstars in NYC, a 3-day miniature version of TechStars, sponsored by FullContact and other tech companies and aimed at helping military vets build technology companies.

The first day of PBC consisted of advice, recommendations and lessons-learned from world speakers and industry leaders such as Don Duet, Co-Head of the Tech Division at Goldman Sachs, Brittany Laughlin, General Manager at Union Square Ventures, Joanne Wilson (Gotham Gal), Nicole Glaros, Managing Partner at Techstars Ventures and others. After lunch we split to smaller breakout sessions to gain in-depth knowledge about SaaS, FinTech, Mobile Apps, IoT and others tech fields.

The second day was all about mentorship. PBC borrows from David Cohen’s Mentor Manifesto, a canonical piece on mentor behavior, to maximize the impact of the event. A ratio of 1.5 participants to each mentor gives every participant the opportunity to meet with many different mentors in a fun, spin-dating like format.

During the day I mentored a diverse group of entrepreneurs on Product & UX. Some of the participants I talked to are still in the early stages of hashing a product idea while others are already generating revenues. A 20-min session is a short time but I was trying to add value by helping to identify next steps, assisting evaluating market opportunities and giving short product feedback. I had some great product conversations with:

  • Van Standifer, a former Airborne Cavalry officer, who is building Flexspot – an Uber-like platform for connecting private places with people who need prime parking spaces.
  • Aaron Sanders, a former combat engineer, building a fund raising platform for athletic programs for colleges and universities.
  • A founding team launching a political participation platform called POLCO.us
  • Rick Yost, a former Army Armor Officer and the founder of veteranslist.us – a 130,000 veterans business national directory.
  • Tina and her partner Mario, an Army combat veteran, owners of Purpose Outfitters – american made and veteran owned, online socks business honoring fallen Soldiers.

As a tech entrepreneur and a military veteran myself (a former lieutenant in the IDF’s armored corps), being able to help other veterans starting a tech business was personally rewarding and I plan to follow-up and continue the relationships with some of the mentees.

At the end of the day each mentor also received a gift a .50 caliber bottle opener bullet (photo below),
I think I like the tagline a lot – ‘redefining the purpose of a bullet’

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