Senator Bob Corker will provide the keynote address for delegates in the second annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Program as they begin Bootcamp, one week in an extensive program offered by The University of Tennessee College of Business. VEP offers free experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to the nation’s disabled and “service distinguished” veterans with the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program.
Senator Corker will speak at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Chattanooga Convention Center, 1100 Carter St.
The VEP was created in direct response to the unique challenges of service disabled veterans with physical or psychological disability. Based on a successful model at Oklahoma State University, the goal of this program is to foster the creation of successful, profitable business ventures and to advance the growth and commercial competitiveness of local and regional veteran-owned enterprises, assisted by intensive education, training and mentoring.
This year’s delegates have already completed an online five-week self-study component of the VEP, which helped them further develop their business concepts and prepare for the on-campus Bootcamp. Bootcamp begins Saturday night and ends with graduation on Saturday, July 27.
Following Bootcamp, delegates are provided 10 months of ongoing mentorship from entrepreneurship experts at the UTC College of Business and online peer networking.
The VEP is free to eligible veterans who are selected for the program. Travel expenses, lodging and meals for the Bootcamp are provided at no cost to the delegate. The costs of the VEP are underwritten by sponsors and private donors, with operations and program development provided by the UTC College of Business.
Success story from the VEP class of 2012:
Bret Moldenhauer served in the United States Army on a small six-man High Altitude Long Range Surveillance Airborne Ranger Recon Team. Mr. Moldenhauer captured four Military Gold medals in the Army World Class Athlete program—he earned two medals on the All Army Taekwondo Team and two on the Armed Forces Taekwondo Team.
He represented the United States military on the 1993 CISM World Military Taekwondo Championship team fighting for Team USA. He was also a member of the United States Olympic Taekwondo training team at the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Co.
After his time in service, Mr. Moldenhauer became a licensed acupuncturist. With his world class military athletic experience and assistance from the UTC VEP program, Mr. Moldenhauer has created a high end world class Olympic sports medicine acupuncture practice. It was the VEP program that inspired him to believe in his business model and gave him the tools to actually bring the model to its realization, officials said.
In 2012, Mr. Moldenhauer graduated from the program. He has traveled the nation and the world to care for decorated track stars, including Olympic Gold and Bronze medalist and World Champion Dee Dee Trotter, Olympic Silver medalist and World Champion Tyson Gay and World champion and Olympic finalist Lo Lo Jones.
Mr. Moldenhauer attended and cared for these athletes when they participated in the 2012 Olympics in London.
With the enduring support and guidance from the UTC VEP program, Mr. Moldenhauer has followed through with his dreams and goals. Currently, he has seven world class athletes under his care and will attend to them at the USA world championship team track and field trials in Iowa, the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow Russia and the Maccabi Games in Israel.
In winter 2013, he worked with USA Bobsled for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Serci Russia. In summer 2013 he was invited to the Maccabbiah Games as the first Team U.S.A. acupuncturist.
From Dr. Robert Dooley, dean of the UTC College of Business: “The VEP builds on the existing skills that veterans learn from their military careers and helps them focus those skills toward the creation of new ventures through intense entrepreneurial training and mentoring. Our goal is to help veterans create businesses as a means to their own financial wellbeing, and we are honored to provide the VEP to those that have already done so much for this country.”
Two of the delegates of the class of 2013 are:
Elizabeth Beske – U.S. Navy
Ms. Beske served in the Navy from 1992 – 1994 as a Mineman (MN) and was stationed in Charleston, S.C. before being honorably discharged. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Minnesota State University-Mankato. Currently, Ms. Beske is an executive controller with expertise in finance and accounting.
For the last 16 years, she has worked with both private and publicly traded companies in various industries including enterprise software, telecommunications, nuclear energy, banking, shareholder communications services, insurance, chemical manufacturing, print manufacturing, consumer retail and food/entertainment. Her primary focus within each organization has been to identify what the company is trying to achieve and then find the path to achieve it with budgeting, operational improvements and market strategy skills.
Ms. Breske feels her diverse business background has given many of the skills necessary to start her own accounting firm.
Danny “Fyke” Fisher – U.S. Air Force
Mr. Fisher, who calls Chattanooga his home, joined the USAF in 2004 as a Logistician stationed at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. He completed his undergraduate degree in Business Administration through National American University. He spent a year at Osan AFB in South Korea and was separated honorably. He continued his education through the MBA program at Middle Tennessee State University, which he completed in one year with an emphasis in International Management.
In 2009, Mr. Fyke took a position with the J.M. Smucker Company as the Warehouse Process Lead to help implement their warehousing systems throughout the country. This was followed with a dispatch position with Eleets Transportation in Jacksonville, FL in 2011, where he completed the company’s 2012 Business Plan.
In May 2012, he moved to Chattanooga and started Ridgeline Logistics LLC.
Who teaches VEP classes at UTC?
Dr. Mike Morris, Head of Oklahoma State University’s School of Entrepreneurship and a team of faculty from the UTC College of Business teach the VEP classes.
VEP donors include:
Rotary Clubs of Chattanooga
Probasco Chair of Free Enterprise
The Company Lab
The Raines Group
Brenda Lawson, Women’s Success Program
For more information about the VEP at UTC, visit http://www.utc.edu/Academic/Business/veterans/index.php or call Sandra Cordell, coordinator of the VEP, 425-4417