Come Meet and Support Veteran Owned Small Businesses in Austin, Texas Friday May 16th.

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, 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, by posting your jobs and hiring Veterans at and enjoying all that the Brass House has to offer, from food and drinks to live music.


6 Unwritten Laws of Employment for Startup Companies

Finding the right talent for your company is crucial. Startups need a lot of work, and you need to know that you can rely on the people you have working for you. There are several things you should look out for when you’re hiring new talent in your company. No matter what type of business you’re in, consider these points for hiring.


Understand the Difference Between Want and Need

The most important thing you need to keep in mind when your hiring is that what you want and what you need may be two completely different things. Remember, when you hire someone, you need to be able to pay for the skills they have. You may want the perfect programmer that knows ten different programming languages. But do they need to have that much experience for your company? Make a list of the qualities and experience that you absolutely need a candidate to have, as well as one for the “perfect” employee. Make sure you set realistic expectations for your needs.

Keep an Eye on Job Boards

While it’s expected that you’re going to post an ad on as many websites, newspapers, and college campuses as possible, it’s also important that you keep a lookout for those who are job hunting. Many job boards allow job hunters to post their resumes. If you keep an eye on the resumes, you’re more likely to find someone with the qualifications you need. Sometimes you need to go to them, instead of waiting for them to come to you. This also allows you to pick and choose the perfect candidates for the positions you have open. (Graph via Bright Labs)

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Interview Multiple People

Resumes are great. They give you an idea of the person you’ll be talking to. But it’s also important to make sure that you’re interviewing a number of people. If you automatically hire the first person that applies for the position, or if you jump at the highest quality resume, you may end up missing out on some great talent. It’s important that you actually meet with potential candidates to ensure that they’ll be a good fit for the company and the position.

Don’t Wait Too Long

Too many entrepreneurs are nervous about taking the leap and hiring new talent. Even if you know that you need someone to fill a position or role in the company, ti can be a difficult step to make. However, it’s important that you not wait too long. There are several repercussions of waiting too long to hire. First, if you’re a customer-based business, you could easily alienate customers because you don’t have adequate staff. In addition, if you do interviews, but take weeks or longer to get back to candidates, don’t be surprised if you find the perfect person for the job found something else.

Be Honest About the Position

It’s difficult to encompass everything that a new hire may be responsible for in a small business. However, if they are going to have many different types of responsibilities, make sure that you make this clear upfront. Some people are more comfortable in well-defined roles, while others work well taking over anything and everything that comes their way. Getting the right person for the job means that you need to make sure you offer all information necessary to allow the candidate to decide if it’s going to be a good fit for them.


Put Together Interview Questions

You want your candidates to be well-prepared for their interview, but you need to make sure that you are, as well. Put some good questions together to ensure that you get a feel for the person you’re talking with. Make sure that you’re careful though, and don’t break any employment law. You can find several great interview question ideas online.

Finding the right person for the job is never easy, and it seems to be more difficult the smaller the company is. However, with some time and effort, you’ll find someone that will fit into the company like they’ve always been there.