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This article is written by Startup Weekend community member, Blake Hogan and Christina Cernansky. 

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, from colonial cobblers to cloud computing, those dreamers dared to consider what could be, and in the process built the American Dream. Recent years have brought on a recession and slowed growth, with many small businesses having to close down their shops. However, there is one group vowing to lead the charge yet again.

The month of May is National Military Appreciation Month (#militaryappreciationmonth) and as we near the end of Small Business Week (May 12-16). In honor of these two very important highlights in the calendar, I wanted to share with you examples of Veteran owned small businesses in Texas, and invite you to join me in supporting them.

Today, I want to feature three companies in Central Texas that are locally owned, operated and employed by Veterans who proudly served this country in the United States Marine Corps. Since their departure from the Corps, each have worked in a variety of jobs, but they all had the passion and determination to launch a venture of their own. These are their stories.

Please also join us and meet these Veterans in person on Friday, May 16th from 5:30-8:30pm at the Brass House – 115 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin TX.

Founded by Jason White and Gene Todorov, Brass House is a jazz and blues club and full service restaurant located in historic downtown Austin.

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Friends and coworkers, Jason and Gene served through a one year deployment in Afghanistan, the sixth deployment  for each.  Between fire-fights, the two men discussed life after the Marine Corps and the Brass House was soon born. They moved to Austin, close to where Jason grew up, and quickly realized that while Austin has a burgeoning rock and country music scene, it did not include much jazz and blues. Focused on addressing this, they started Brass House in 2013 located on 2nd and San Jacinto, and focused on hiring Veterans, ranging from the chef to bartenders and managers. The Brass House, and newly opened Brass House Tavern next door, features live music seven days a week and will be launching a fine dining menu later this month.

After meeting in an entrepreneurial bootcamp for Veterans, Blake Hogan and Davis Dolezal sought out to combine high tech and hustle to create an entrepreneurial approach to job seeking and filling. These Marines created Vet Commander, which seeks to re-imagine the job seeking and filling process by connecting America’s Small Businesses with America’s Veterans through quick, candid and pre-recorded video interviews.

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This process creates a personal connection for employers and provides valuable insight to a Veteran’s personality, professionalism and character. This is essentially a headhunter, meets, job board that is married to intuitive Netflix type of results.  Or, as they like to say, it is all about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Awesome Jobs.

Brandon Bunch, also based in Central Texas, went through the same entrepreneurial bootcamp and came up with the idea of creating a clearinghouse for Veteran owned business. Being a full time firefighter and paramedic, he was  sick and tired of horrible customer service experiences in various home repair and other service industries. He founded HireourHero.com, which combines a list of Veteran owned businesses in different industries in an easy to find web platform. Think of it as an ‘Angie’s List’ for Veteran and first responder owned business.

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This is just a small fraction of Veteran owned businesses in Central Texas. I ask you, both civlians and Veterans, to support them by joining their ranks by finding a local veteran owned business at Hireourhero.com, by posting your jobs and hiring Veterans at Vetcommander.com and enjoying all that the Brass House has to offer, from food and drinks to live music.