From Battlefield to Boardroom

How Veteran-Owned Startups Are Boosting the Economy

In the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship, veterans are emerging as a formidable force, leveraging their skills, experiences, and tenacity to launch successful startups and drive economic growth. From high-tech ventures to small businesses, veteran-owned startups are making significant contributions to the economy, creating jobs, fostering innovation, and fueling prosperity.

“Veteran-owned businesses in the United States make a significant contribution to the economy. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 304,823 veteran-owned businesses, which comprise approximately 5.2% of all employer firms. These businesses generate an estimated $922.2 billion in receipts and employ around 3.3 million people, with an annual payroll of about $179.9 billion.” Source: Census.gov

Veterans bring a unique blend of skills, experiences, and values to the table—qualities that are not only invaluable in the military but also highly sought after in the business world. As they transition from the military to civilian life, many veterans embark on a new journey: entrepreneurship. Across the globe, veteran-owned startups are emerging as a driving force for economic growth, innovation, and job creation. Veterans are making meaningful impacts on our economy in many ways, including:

1. Leadership and Resilience

Veterans are no strangers to adversity. Through their military service, they develop resilience, adaptability, and a strong sense of leadership—qualities that are essential for navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship. Whether it’s overcoming obstacles, managing uncertainty, or rallying a team in the face of adversity, veterans possess the leadership skills needed to drive their startups forward.

2. Innovation and Problem-Solving

Military service often requires creative problem-solving and innovative thinking in high-pressure situations. Veterans bring this same mindset to their entrepreneurial endeavors, identifying market gaps, developing innovative solutions, and disrupting industries. From tech startups to social enterprises, veteran-owned businesses are at the forefront of innovation, driving economic growth and fostering technological advancement.

3. Job Creation and Economic Impact

Veteran-owned startups play a crucial role in job creation and economic development. By launching their own businesses, veterans not only create employment opportunities for themselves but also for fellow veterans and civilians alike. These startups stimulate local economies, generate tax revenue, and contribute to the overall prosperity of communities. Moreover, by hiring veterans, these businesses leverage their unique skills and experiences, further enriching their workforce and driving productivity.

4. Veteran Support Ecosystem

Across the globe, there is a growing ecosystem of support for veteran entrepreneurs. Organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits offer a range of resources, including mentorship, funding, training, and networking opportunities, to help veterans succeed in business. By tapping into these support networks, veteran-owned startups can access the guidance and resources needed to scale their ventures, create jobs, and make a positive impact on the economy.

5. Corporate Social Responsibility

Many veteran-owned startups are driven not only by profit but also by a sense of purpose and social responsibility. These businesses often prioritize giving back to their communities, supporting fellow veterans, and addressing social and environmental challenges. Through their corporate social responsibility initiatives, veteran-owned startups contribute to the greater good while also strengthening their brand reputation and building customer loyalty.

Below are some examples of successful veteran-owned startups. Click the links to their websites and explore their successful transition from the battlefield to the boardroom.

Alpha Coffee – Co-founded by a military veteran and his spouse, Alpha Coffee sells premium coffee products. This Utah-based company prides itself on its warrior ethos, which drives their commitment to community support and giving back. For every coffee purchase, they send additional coffee to troops serving overseas. Their ethos is about more than just selling coffee; it’s about creating a positive impact on the military community and promoting a message of strength and excellence.

Black Rifle Coffee Company – Founded by former Green Beret Evan Hafer, Black Rifle Coffee Company is a premium, small-batch, roast-to-order coffee company. They are known for their strong support for veteran and first responder causes.

Combat Flip Flops – Founded by two Army Rangers and a bass player, Combat Flip Flops manufactures footwear, apparel, and accessories in conflict areas to promote economic growth. Their mission is to create jobs, fund education, and demine war-torn areas.

Horse Soldier Bourbon – This distillery was founded by a team of retired Green Berets who were among the first U.S. Special Forces to enter Afghanistan post-9/11. They are famously known as the “Horse Soldiers” for their initial missions on horseback. The distillery produces premium bourbon, crafted in the heart of America using local ingredients. Their story not only celebrates their heroic military service but also their craftsmanship and dedication to producing a distinctly American spirit. This venture exemplifies how veterans have translated their camaraderie and mission-driven mindset into a successful and meaningful business.

JDog Junk Removal & Hauling – This franchise company offers its business opportunities exclusively to veterans and their families. JDog Junk Removal & Hauling emphasizes the military’s values of Respect, Integrity, and Trust.

O2X Human Performance – Founded by Navy SEALs, O2X provides comprehensive training and education to firefighters, police officers, first responders, and military units, focusing on improving their physical and mental health.

R. Riveter – Founded by military spouses, R. Riveter creates handcrafted bags and purses while providing portable careers to military spouses. Their business model emphasizes American craftsmanship and the military community.

Stubble & ‘Stache – Founded by Nicholas Karnaze, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Stubble & ‘Stache manufactures premium skincare and beard care products. The company was started in honor of Karnaze’s fallen comrade, and a portion of their profits is donated to support veteran causes. Their products are designed to handle the tough conditions that military personnel might face, reflecting the founder’s understanding of the unique needs of his customer base.

Sword & Plough – Co-founded by U.S. Army veteran Emily Núñez Cavness and her sister Betsy, Sword & Plough repurposes military surplus into stylish and durable bags, accessories, and apparel. They also donate a portion of their profits to veteran organizations.

The Plant Veteran – The Planted Veteran is a startup founded by a military veteran who uses sustainable agriculture practices to grow organic produce and create job opportunities for fellow veterans. This venture focuses on the therapeutic aspects of farming and sustainability, helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life while contributing to the local food system. By providing training and employment in agricultural techniques, The Planted Veteran not only supports veterans’ mental health and well-being but also promotes environmental stewardship and community engagement.

Veteran-owned startups are a powerful force for economic growth, innovation, and social impact. By leveraging their unique skills, experiences, and values, veterans are driving entrepreneurship forward, creating jobs, and making a positive difference in communities around the world. As we celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of veterans, let’s recognize and support their efforts to build a brighter future for themselves and for society as a whole.

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From Battlefield to Boardroom

May 24, 2024|Talent|

In the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship, veterans are emerging as a formidable force, leveraging their skills, experiences, and tenacity to launch successful startups and drive economic growth.