What an incredible responsibility we were given by our friends we served with who didn’t make it home. There is probably a very thin line for many of us where our roles could easily be reversed.
By Brian Von Herbulis, Director 43INC
Many of us have ideas we think could be turned into great businesses. The challenge is always in the execution of our great ideas. We are often limited by lack of confidence, funding, resources, and knowledge of where to even begin. As post-9/11 veterans re-enter civilian life, many find entrepreneurship to be an appealing option. In fact, there are over 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there is about one veteran-owned firm for every ten veterans, and veteran-owned firms employ 5.8 million individuals.
Starting a business takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice, self-confidence, commitment, determination, perseverance, and perhaps scariest of all, risk. We at Mission43 believe that these are the exact attributes possessed by today’s veterans, and we strive to provide them with an advantage as they pursue entrepreneurship. That is why we launched an initiative to help veterans and their spouses explore entrepreneurship as a viable way for them to transition from the military and enter the civilian workforce here in Idaho.
In 2018, in partnership with Boise State University Venture College, Mission43 launched two pilot entrepreneurship programs for its members, the Entrepreneur Sprint and the Entrepreneur Garage. The Sprint is designed to be an introduction to Lean Startup Methodology and provides enrolled members with tools that will assist in developing their value proposition and understanding their potential customer segments. This exploration is done in four sessions, two hours each.
The Garage is a follow-on 8-week, evening program intended to be a more in-depth study of the business model tools presented in the Sprint and a closer look at the individual business ideas. During the Garage, the Venture College staff looks “under the hood” of the business ideas and assists with identifying what it would take to move from an idea to a successful business launch. This program also supports newly created businesses with ideas on how to improve their value proposition, grow their customer segments, and increase potential revenue streams.
Entrepreneurship may be a practical way for Mission43 members to re-enter the civilian workforce after departing the military. There is no better time than now to learn more and see if it is right for you. If you are a member of Mission43 and want to explore your business idea further, we encourage you to sign up for our next Entrepreneur Sprint. Let us help you explore creating a successful and sustainable business here in Idaho.
Click here to get the details on our course offerings! The Mission43 Entrepreneur page.
Brian Von Herbulis (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of 43INC, the connection pillar of Mission43. Brian retired from the USMC in 2014 after a career culminating as Recon Battalion Commander. After discovering Idaho through a military TDY, he and his family now call it home.
One of the great things about serving our country in uniform is defending the freedom to live out the American dream. For many, this means taking the risk to start your own business. The Mission43 team believes veterans and military spouses are well equipped with the experience and skills to accomplish this, and we have heard from an increasing number of members who are interested in pathways to doing this after the military. Our challenge then became finding a program to make this possible.
We put our heads together and came up with a vision for a flexible, fast-paced, and impactful way to support Mission43 entrepreneurs. The program had to be after business hours because most of our audience is employed and supporting a family. We wanted a “boot-camp” style course that would challenge our experienced members. Finally, if we could combine the attributes people developed through military experience with innovative entrepreneurial concepts we could help launch businesses into the Idaho economy.
The answer for our members came in the form of the Boise State University Venture College Entrepreneurs Sprint using the Lean Startup Methodology.
THE BSU VENTURE COLLEGE ENTREPRENEURS SPRINT
The first Mission43 Entrepreneurs Sprint consisted of six classes over three weeks, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6:00-8:00pm. The course is based on the Lean Startup Methodology; think the opposite of a traditional rigid business plan. Lean Startup businesses know how to steer, when to pivot, and how to quickly get a product, known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to the customer. A lean startup doesn’t ask “Can we build this product?” Instead, in this fast-paced course you will go out and meet with customers to determine “Should I build this product?” and “Can I build a sustainable business around the product and/or service?”
The first Mission43 cohort consisted of 14 members with varying backgrounds including military spouses, current military, former military, officer and enlisted. They showed up with businesses at different stages. Some were just ideas and some have already generated sales. However, the common denominator was this was a room full of leaders and risk takers that quickly formed into a team very willing to help and challenge each other along the way.
TAKE IT FROM THE MEMBERS WHO ATTENDED
"Most military members, spouses, and veterans are fairly adept at planning--between missions and moves, we have substantive experience planning and executing. However, for first-time entrepreneurs starting a business or a non-profit venture, we often find that we have never conducted planning with a customer in mind. The Entrepreneur Sprint Course fills this gap by introducing lean startup methodology and particularly focusing on how we can identify potential customers, creatively solve real problems for them, and test our assertions before committing large amounts of resources." - Matty Bishop
“The Entrepreneurs Sprint was a great experience for me. I sincerely appreciated Mission43 making such a great program available for such an affordable price for veterans and spouses. In addition to being exposed to alternative and cutting-edge methods of entrepreneurship, I was able to network with some very talented people. The program was very action-based, and I went home each night with new insight and practical knowledge I could use to make my business ideas a reality. I highly recommend this experience to anyone interested in lifelong learning or to those needing a jumpstart to action regarding their ideas for starting a business.” - Noah Siple
We can’t wait to highlight the businesses (and non-profits) that grow from this opportunity. Here are just a few that were in the room in this first cohort:
- Cafe Mule (former USMC infantry): Cold-brew coffee
- Table Rock Physical Therapy (military spouse): Telehealth physical therapy
- A business that creates custom table settings for special events (currently serving Air Force officer)
- Chadillac Customz (former Army): Customized vehicle wrapping
The next cohort is launching soon so keep an eye out for that announcement. We will also be unveiling our follow-on scholarship for the full credentialed Venture College program exclusively designed for the Mission43 community!
Boise Bicycle Project and Mission43 have embarked on a partnership called Shifting Gears, to develop incarcerated veterans into highly skilled bicycle mechanics. The prisoners will have the opportunity to learn a trade while making a meaningful contribution to the community. All bicycles they repair are donated through BBP to low-income and refugee children. They learn a trade that, combined with a letter of recommendation we give at graduation, gives them a better chance at finding quality employment upon release. Finally, we educate and connect them to the Mission43 pillars throughout the program, providing hope to a clear pathway to opportunity in their re-integration.
This veterans group in the Idaho State Corrections Center (ISCC) sought an opportunity with Mission43 to serve the community even though they made a major mistake to set themselves back in life. They begin every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, still proud of their country, and still seeking ways to give back. Fortunately, they also have support from the ISCC leadership who see this as a positive opportunity for both the prison and prisoners.
Mission43 and Boise Bicycle Project will be at the ISCC twice a week for two hours of instruction and work. BBP will lead the class with a head instructor and Mission43 will provide a dedicated veteran to assist in the training.
If you want to get involved, Mission43 is looking for 5-6 volunteers who can make a long-term commitment to Shifting Gears. If you a have a basic understanding of bicycle maintenance, can educate the veteran prisoners on the four Mission43 pillars, and can commit to one or two days a month, please let us know.
2017 marked the 16th anniversary of the the September 11, 2001 attack on our nation. For those who recently served, it is the closest we can come to understanding what Pearl Harbor meant to our grandparents. This year in an effort to honor those we lost, we carried a flag bearing the names of all the first responders and civilians who were killed on 9.11.2001, over 40 miles on a route across the Treasure Valley. This event was called Idaho’s 9.11 Moving Tribute.
0846 Flight 11 Hit the North Tower
We began at 0846 at Lucky Peak Reservoir, the same time Flight 11 hit the North Tower. Over 60 people carried the flag throughout the day, stopping only to mark the times the planes struck and when the towers collapsed. At 0937, when the Pentagon was hit by Flight 77, we had the family of Brady Howell, one of two Idahoans killed in that moment, carrying the flag in his honor. Ten different police and fire departments provide escort throughout the entire nine-hour tribute, a great symbolism of the respect between first responders and the military.
The pillar organizations of Mission43 came together just like they do on a daily basis supporting the military community in Idaho. Each took responsibility for a leg of the relay by finding volunteers within their organizations to help carry the flag, and by ensuring they met the next pillar organization in time for the hand-off.
60 People Helped Carry the Flag Over 40 Miles.
At the end of the 40 miles, we arrived at the future home of a Mission43 Firebase, the Caldwell Veterans Memorial Hall. We had food, drinks, and brought closure to the day with a ceremony led by Noah Siple. We couldn’t have been more proud of the way 9.11 was honored by the leaders, volunteers, and public who took part in this tribute.
Keep an eye out for next year. We will be looking to do something bigger and bolder and will need even more people to help carry the flag in honor of September 11th.
CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE MOVING TRIBUTE PHOTO ALBUM
Over the past few months, we have been working closely with the Caldwell Veterans Memorial Hall (CVMH) to develop a way to integrate the Mission43 pillars (education, employment, purpose, and connection) into their future programmatic offerings. It has been incredible to see how the Canyon County community has rallied behind their efforts to renovate this turn of the century building, originally built as a Carnegie Library in 1903. But what role was the building going to serve, and was it something the next generation of veterans who are starting to leave the military want to be part of? We knew that just because you build it does not mean they will come.
We worked closely with CVMH to create the vision of what a modernized version of a veteran service organization (VSO) could look like. It can't be overstated that even though we shared the same vision, it was absolutely essential that CVMH had the right leader in place to make this happen. Through this, the Caldwell Veterans Memorial Hall Mission43 Firebase was born.
When you walk into the newly renovated building, scheduled to open November 2017, you will know that the CVMH is focused on integrating Mission43 opportunities for military families in Canyon County. These are some of the things you can expect at our first Mission43 Firebase:
- Military spouses can meet face-to-face with their Guild Education advisor and apply for their Master's degree at one of four partner universities.
- Hire Heroes USA is finding quality and meaningful careers for the young men and women fresh out of the military.
- Team Red, White, and Blue meets up on the steps of the building before heading out on their weekly Monday night run.
- Team Rubicon stages people and equipment for the next operation like Op Payette Forward, where they did flood mitigation and snow removal last winter.
Through this partnership with CVMH, we are hopeful to create a model for other communities that want to empower, not enable, Idaho military families.
Mission43 has partnered with Trailhead Boise (a very cool entrepreneur workspace) to create more opportunities for you to succeed after the military. If you are wondering what coding is all about, this is the perfect way for you to get started on a structured path of stackable courses that can lead to a new career.
The Trailhead Front-End Foundation Series is a three-part series that will help you gain exposure to the tools and technologies that enable you to build interactive web pages and applications. Upon completion of all three, you will earn a Front-End Foundations badge from the Boise State University Venture College.
- Foundations of Web Design (April 24th-May 11th)
- Foundations of Angular (July 10th-August 3rd)
The next scholarship is for the Foundations of Web Design course where you will learn to build websites using standard industry tools such as HTML, CSS and Bootstrap.
Course Dates: April 24th-May 11th (Monday and Thursday nights 6:00pm-8:00pm)
Information Session: April 19th (4:00pm-6:00pm)
How the scholarship works:
- You have skin in the game. You pay up-front ($99/$199/$299) and upon completion of each course you will be fully reimbursed!
- You are required to provide a Hire Heroes USA resume (the employment pillar of Mission43) for verification of military/military spouse/veteran status. It's easy to do and will pay off in your job search!
- To enroll in Foundations of Web Design email email@example.com in the Foundations of Web Design course.
QUESTIONS? DROP THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.
Task Force Locust (aka Mission43) came in to Payette Brewing Company, took up space, enjoyed some beers, and had a great time with other members and our community partners. This 43INC Happy Hour had a Team Rubicon slant with the Regional X Administrator, Aaron Mallary, flying in from his HQ in Seattle. He presented Sandra Rollings the very first Region X challenge coin for for her leadership in Operation Payette Forward (learn more about this first ever Idaho TR op here).
We also had a few of our community partners swing by to talk about how they are working with Mission43.
- Trailhead is providing scholarships for their stackable front-end code school classes. More to follow on this...we will be announcing how to apply for the next class starting April 24th
- Keller Williams Front Porch Properties is helping us connect our members to veteran real estate agents (especially those out of state) who want to learn more about the local area. They also have some pretty cool incentives to pile on with your closing costs.
Next 43INC Happy Hour is April 27th...swing on by!
Colleges are all about the GI Bill $$$’s, but they often don’t even understand the value of having someone with military experience in their classroom. We worked with Boise State University and their Veteran Student Center faculty to bring out our good friend and partner in crime, Mike Schindler, to create a conversation around this very thing.
Mike immediately demonstrated that most people immediately think of PTSD when talking about veterans. However, by the end this group was preaching the word on the top 5 veteran traits (ie life-long learners, loyal, strong work ethic…) and how to leverage those traits. There was even a serious look at whether or not Boise State University was “veteran friendly.”
We truly appreciate the staff, faculty, and students who attended this discussion. It is a testament to their desire to focus on the students and create a better learning experience.
Mission43 partnered with ESPN’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to provide over 2,000 tickets for military families to watch the University of Idaho take on Colorado State. We also hosted a tailgate for the first 500 people to show up for the festivities in our exclusive Mission43 tent that featured local brews, BBQ, and coffee from Cafe Mule (Idaho veteran owned business!). A few lucky military spouses even won access badges to the heated sky box!
No game is complete without a flyover from something that burns JP-8. Thanks to the 391st Bold Tigers, an F-15E squadron from Mountain Home Air Force, for the three ship that hit the timing perfectly.
It is difficult to find a Veteran’s Day event that truly makes an impact on those it honors. In this case, a group of 10th grade students from One Stone school formed a group called Unite11 and reached out to Mission43 for assistance in developing their Veteran’s Day idea. They used the design thinking process, coupled with their reading of Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe, and developed a town-hall style event where veterans get up on an open mike and tell their story. We loved their approach and this was 100% student led.
Combat hardened veterans do not normally get up and tell their story. However, a group of high school students created an environment where this was possible and we witnessed heartfelt stories not about war, but about the people they served with in war. This is what they are most proud of and we are proud of what Unite11 created this past Veteran’s Day.