Service through business ownership

Mizzou helps veterans craft their vocations, workshop their ideas and find success through entrepreneurship.

Veterans from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps participated in Mizzou's seventh annual entrepreneurship bootcamp.

Sept. 12, 2022

The University of Missouri is one of only six universities in the country to offer the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) program, providing post-9/11 veterans with no-cost entrepreneurial training and small business management skills.

“This has been invaluable to me and a great use of my time to be able to finish up last-minute ideas before I launch my business,” said Air Force veteran Theresa Irving, owner of Duneberry Farms in Silver Lake, Michigan. “What it did was help me develop more ideas for revenue streams and a better network of support.”

Irving, whose 67-acre farm includes a disc golf course and an area where people can pick blueberries and strawberries, was one of 19 veterans from across the country who completed a 30-day online business course before spending a week this summer on the MU campus for the residency portion of the program. Participants are now in the third phase of EBV, which includes a year of mentoring and other support.

Going through the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program gives participants a group of "battle buddies" who continue to support each other as they pursue their business dreams.

The national EBV program, headquartered at the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, relies on its consortium of university partners to provide a rigorous and intense curriculum each year. The Veterans United (VU) Foundation has sponsored EBV at MU since 2015 when the university joined the consortium.

“We involve our entire mid-Missouri entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Greg Bier, EBV program director. “We brought in 20 experts from the community who are successful in their fields. This enables them to share practical tools and take a deep dive when answering questions and helping participants research and solve problems.”

Former Army special operations helicopter pilot Jason Nazarenko said EBV is helping him refine his business plan for a taproom and pizzeria in his hometown of Cotter, Arkansas. The 900-person town, known for its trout fishing and scenery, had no nightlife options for visitors.

“Everything I do is to bring value to the town,” said Nazarenko, who also has renovated numerous vacation rentals in the area. “I need to succeed, not just for myself, but also for the town. I knew EBV could give me the skills I needed going forward.”

View a list of companies owned by veterans who were part of Mizzou’s EBV program.

Read more from the Division of Research, Innovation and Impact

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