UF offers free program to help disabled veterans who own or want to start businesses

February 6, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida is launching a free program to help disabled veterans succeed in business.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program is designed for veterans who are interested in starting a business or already own one. It was created by the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at UF’s Warrington College of Business Administration.

The program for up to 30 participants consists of three phases that provide practical training in venture creation and growth, and includes a support structure for participants as they pursue their ventures. The deadline for applications is Feb. 20.

“This rigorous, hands-on program is for veterans with a true passion to start something,” said professor Michael Morris, VEP founder.  “It is about helping to empower those who have paid the price for our freedom to create their own futures, and to create ventures and jobs, hopefully for other vets.”

The phases are:

Phase I -  concept development and self-study (March 24 to April 26). Through online discussions moderated by the college’s entrepreneurship faculty, participants work on developing business concepts. Those with existing businesses work on understanding and shaping relevant business issues.

Phase II – boot camp (May 3-10). Participants arrive in Gainesville for an intense eight-day workshop on the UF campus with faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts. This hands-on learning experience exposes participants to the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership.

Phase III – mentoring and venture development (May 19 to January 2015). Participants are mentored for eight months by entrepreneurs and business experts. Participants can rely on these successful business professionals to help solve problems.

To qualify, veterans must meet three requirements:

  1. Separated from active duty service (or currently in the administrative process of separating) with an honorable discharge.
  2. Identified as disabled by the Veterans Administration or Department of Defense based on a “service connected” disability or “service distinguished” based on exemplary military conduct.
  3. Demonstrating an intense interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership/management.

Instruction, materials, travel expenses, lodging and meals for the Phase II boot camp will be provided at no cost to each veteran. The costs of the program are underwritten by sponsors and private donors, with operations and program development provided by the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

For more information, contact Morris at michael.morris@warrington.ufl.edu or 352-273-0329 or visit http://warrington.ufl.edu/centers/cei/vep/.