We recently sat down with Charlotte Creech and Josh Anderson of Patriot Boot Camp, one of the five Techstars Foundation Grantees, to learn more about the organization and how it’s helping diversity in entrepreneurship.
Patriot Boot Camp is an intensive, 3-day educational event designed to mentor military members, Veterans and their spouses to start technology-focused businesses.
What problem are you solving?
PBC helps bridge the resource gap that Veterans and military spouses face when starting technology companies. Our mission is to equip them with focused education, mentoring and community support to help them innovate and build the next generation of scalable companies.
Patriot Boot Camp leverages a nationwide network of business and startup community thought leaders to help entrepreneurs bridge the divide between military service and entrepreneurial life.
What sparked the vision and foundation behind Patriot Boot Camp?
Patriot Boot Camp has a strong foundation in the Techstars network. While going through the Techstars Boulder accelerator, Taylor McLemore questioned whether the tech community could be doing more to support Veterans in making the transition to startups.
With support from David Cohen, Taylor crafted an intensive 3-day boot camp to mimic the mentorship-driven Techstars accelerator. The first program – held in Washington, D.C. in 2012 – was met with huge demand from the military & Veteran community, and sparked what has now become a standalone 501(c)(3 non-profit organization running multiple programs each year.
Tell us about how your organization has affected/positively impacted your audience?
Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) has run nine entrepreneurship education programs across seven cities since 2012, providing hands-on training and mentorship to more than 500 early stage military/Veteran and spouse tech entrepreneurs.
Successful outcomes from these programs range from having alumni meet a co-founder, to getting accepted to a Techstars accelerator program, to having a PBC mentor invest in their company and everything in between.
Most commonly, our alumni tell us the advice they received at PBC helped them quickly hone in on, or pivot to, a more viable business model and helped connect them with a network of subject matter experts that they never would have been able to access on their own.
What is the biggest misperception around the issue you are trying to solve?
A popular misconception about military Veterans is that because of their uniformed service, they are rigid and heavily regimented.
While structure and order are hallmarks of the military, most personnel serving in the U.S. armed forces must be creative and inventive in order to accomplish their missions. Many of the ideas and companies that come through Patriot Boot Camp are highly innovative and operate with a social mission.
What is one world-changing company that you admire?
USAA! USAA has a long history of being a trusted service provider for military members and their families and has been an incredible supporter of Patriot Boot Camp. USAA’s mission is deeply rooted in its culture, and it truly leads the industry in both customer service and technology innovation.
Do you have any examples of how the Techstars’ network has impacted your business so far?
Since its inception, Patriot Boot Camp has benefitted from the strength and expertise of the Techstars network. Nearly every member of Techstars’ leadership has volunteered at PBC programs as speakers and mentors, sharing invaluable advice and lessons learned.
Furthermore, Patriot Boot Camp is pleased to have five of its alumni companies gain acceptance into a formal Techstars accelerator program, and countless other alumni have leveraged its vast network of mentors and founders to gain critical knowledge and guidance.
At an organizational level, Patriot Boot Camp is fortunate to have David Brown sit on its Board of Directors and access to a wealth of subject matter experts in all facets of business development.
How has the Techstars Foundation helped your cause/business?
Having the backing of the Techstars Foundation and brand has helped Patriot Boot Camp establish credibility among a highly competitive landscape of non-profit organizations.
More importantly, the Foundation provided a grant award which has helped us expand our programming and has also connected us with incredible mentors in the nonprofit arena to help us build a lasting, impactful organization.
How can Techstars help with getting more Veterans involved with startups?
Many active duty military members, Veterans, and their spouses have an interest in pursuing entrepreneurship as an alternative career path, but don’t always have the community support and network needed to effectively guide them to the right resources.
By making a greater effort to outreach to the military and Veteran community, Techstars and its supporting programs including Startup Week, Startup Weekend and Startup Next, can help shepherd more Veterans into tech and ensure they have access to critical startup knowledge and resources.
Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor will be matching donations to the Techstars Foundation until October 31. Brad and Amy will be matching $1 dollar for every $2 dollars contributed by members of the Techstars’ community, up to $100,000. Donate here today!