About three dozen veterans in the second annual Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program are honing their presentations for the session’s grand-finale on Saturday, May 6.
At the Frank Stern Compassionate Shark Tank Competition from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., participating veterans will pitch their innovative ideas to local investors and business leaders in hopes of obtaining funding for the businesses they started during the program. There will be two rounds of pitches; winners from the first round will advance to the second round. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the Far Mar Fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation have made generous donations to FGCU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship (IFE) to provide start-up funds for the winning veteran entrepreneurs.
Since the program kicked off Feb. 4 at FGCU’s Emergent Technologies Institute, veterans have worked hands-on with faculty and Southwest Florida business owners to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and to start, grow or revamp their businesses. Mentors delivered one-on-one assistance in areas ranging from building a website and marketing to creating full financial projections.
“Our team at FGCU was inspired by the passion and tenacity of our veteran entrepreneurs. The veterans are dedicated to working hard to develop a plan to launch their startups while remaining focused on adding value to their community,” said IFE Director Dr. Sandra Kauanui.
An advocate for student entrepreneurship and innovation, the institute provides students with genuine support and a strong foundation of knowledge from which to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations.
Veterans Florida, a nonprofit corporation established by the State of Florida as part of the Florida GI Bill, reinforces Florida’s standing as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Veterans Florida provides workforce solutions to businesses and entrepreneurship training to military veterans.