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LSU SEI Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Graduates 11 in Inaugural Class

Many people go through life with a dream of starting their own business, but not many receive the tools or knowledge of entrepreneurship to make that dream become a reality. After spending a week at LSU, 11 veterans are one step closer to making their business dreams come true.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at LSU
Video: Participants discuss their experience as part of the inaugural class of graduates from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program offered at the LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

These 11 veterans recently graduated from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, or EBV, program offered at the LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute.

"The EBV program is one of the most important initiatives that LSU SEI is involved in," said Robin Kistler, director of LSU Executive Education and EBV at LSU. "This program teaches veterans the principles of sustainable business ownership, which allows for job creation, innovation and support to our economy."

The program, held Feb. 25 through March 3, provides cutting-edge training in entrepreneurship and small-business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities, to assist them in pursuing the American dream of business ownership.

"Veterans are well suited for business ownership," Kistler said. "They have the leadership and critical decision making skills to be a success. The EBV program at LSU is teaching them the business side of entrepreneurship – how to fund your venture, how to efficiently run your venture and how to create a competitive advantage."

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the EBV program, which was created at Syracuse University's Whitman School. Since its inception in 2007, the program has been offered at no cost to veterans. This was the first year that LSU was part of the program.

Kim Robinson, of Prairieville, a former sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, said entrepreneurship is about ownership, and she was looking forward to having a business to call her own.

"I was expecting to learn exactly what entrepreneurship was and strategies on how to be a successful entrepreneur, and I've learned that," she said.

The EBV-LSU Class of 2012 included eight men and three women veterans, ranging in age from 29-59 years old. Nearly all branches of the uniformed military services were represented in this year's class, including veterans of the National Guard and Army Reserve.

During their eight-day residency, the veterans were exposed to accomplished entrepreneurs, academics, disability experts and business leaders from across the nation. Their residency experience was intense; a typical workday began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m.

Eleven veterans recently graduated from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program offered at the LSU Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

The veterans received instruction from LSU faculty and staff, guest entrepreneurs and business professionals. They studied topics such as personal branding, understanding your market, legal issues in small business and managing your supply chain.

"I would highly recommend this program," said Scott Boyette of Chelsea, Ala., a former captain in the U.S. Air Force. "You just genuinely feel like people want to see you succeed down here and that's been the best part about all this."

The EBV is offered in three phases of training, and provides veterans with skills necessary to successfully launch and grow a new business. Through online courses, an intense residency and 12 months of ongoing support and mentorship, veterans learn how to write business plans, raise capital, attract customers and develop a marketing strategy.

Elmer Rivera, a native of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, and a former captain in the U.S. Army, was looking for organizational skills and to work on the strategy for his business concept during the EBV program. He said he hoped to learn all the tools that he's going to need in order to be successful in business.

"It's an opportunity for me to learn the business tools in order for me to create my own business," he said. "There are dreams out there, we just got to go and reach for them, and I know we can do this."

The EBV was created at Syracuse and is now offered through a network of eight world-class business schools that includes Whitman, the College of Business at Florida State University, the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University, the Krannert School at Purdue University, the School of Business at the University of Connecticut, the E. J. Ourso College of Business at LSU, and the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. More than 150 veterans will receive training at EBV consortium schools over the course of 2012.

"Never before have there been so many resources in place to encourage veterans with disabilities to become entrepreneurs," Kistler said. "It just takes the willingness and desire to make the jump."

The EBV program is widely acclaimed as the premier entrepreneurship training program for veterans in the nation, recognized as a "National Best Practice" by the Department of the Army for serving soldiers and their families. In 2011, the editors of Inc. magazine named the EBV one of the 10 best entrepreneurship programs in the U.S. More than 350 veterans from across the country have graduated from the EBV since 2007, and to date graduates have created more than 170 new businesses.

Veterans attending the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program received instruction from LSU faculty and staff, guest entrepreneurs and business professionals.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

"Our veterans want to be actively involved in rebuilding our national economy," Kistler said. "They want to hire other veterans and get the country moving again. They continue to want to give after everything they have experienced overseas. No doubt, they will succeed."

As a result of the generous support of the EBV universities and the private giving of individuals and corporations, all costs to veterans for the program, including travel, lodging and meals, are covered.

Contributions to the LSU EBV program can be made online or by mailed check. To make a gift online, visit https://www.lsufoundation.org/contribute/business/ebv. To make a gift by mailed check, make the check payable to "LSU Foundation" and write EBV in the memo line. Mail the check to Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities c/o Lisa O'Beirne, LSU SEI, P.O. Box 67027, Baton Rouge, LA 70896.

For more information on the EBV program, visit http://business.lsu.edu/Stephenson-Entrepreneurship-Institute/Pages/EBV.aspx.

The Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, an integral part of LSU's E. J. Ourso College of Business, utilizes the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Fellows, LSU Executive Education and Social Entrepreneurship to address the challenges of entrepreneurship and to positively impact students, the regional economy, the state of Louisiana and the nation. A generous donation by LSU alumni Emmet and Toni Stephenson made the continued development of the college's entrepreneurship institute possible. For more information, visit www.sei.lsu.edu or call 225-578-1190.

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