The EBV (Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities) has emerged as the premier program to train disabled veterans to become successful business owners. The program is privately funded and includes five weeks of military style intensive training followed by one year of on-line support and mentorship. The first four weeks are spent developing their own business concepts with the assistance of entrepreneurship faculty and graduate students from one of the partner EBV Universities.
This is followed by an intense nine days spent “in residency” at one of eight world-class institutions where the vets attend a rigorous schedule of speakers, meetings and workshops all designed to prepare them for the real world of entrepreneurship.
Does it work? You bet! Last month we were honored to be keynote speakers at the third annual EBV Alumni National Conference in Frisco, Texas. In attendance were over 100 grads of the EBV program from all over the country. Most had already developed successful businesses ranging from Women Veterans Business Center to Cool Clock Shop, with many more products and services in between. The program is also available to the families of the disabled vets (EBVF), who also attended this annual conference.
While we were there, we participated in a workshop where we were able to spend one-on-one time with the vets to discuss their business ideas and offer our advice. They asked us questions about the best way to position, grow, and monetize their brand value. Twenty-seven other tables provided real world business advice from recognized experts in the field of entrepreneurship.
We were proud to be part of this incredible program and took the opportunity to thank them for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the folks they serve – us! We went to inspire them, but they inspired us! We couldn’t help but feel the excitement and “Can-Do” attitude of these men and women as they took on the new challenge of becoming business owners in the civilian world.
As outsiders who have participated as speakers at the ground level at EBV programs at Syracuse University and Purdue University, and now to experience this ongoing support for the EBV and EBVF grads, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the feelings of comradely and family that this program offers. Grads are not suddenly turned loose on the world, but instead have a support network that goes on indefinitely.
The new businesses created by these veterans with disabilities and their families are creating jobs, commerce, and wealth that will benefit us all. The EBV is creating the catalyst to ignite creativity and success with a unique program to educate, encourage, and support the entrepreneurial aspirations of our disabled vets. Although it is now in its relative infancy, this unique program is already making a difference. The future of our economy will be charged with a new brand of entrepreneur, the EBV Brand!
As we celebrate Veterans’ Day this Monday, November 11, let’s recognize and thank our entrepreneurial veterans by trading with the over 17,000 veteran owned businesses across the country. If you have a choice, why not choose a veteran business? They’ve served us twice, once in the field, and now with goods and services! So, don’t just take the day off this Veterans’ Day; show your support by making a purchase from a veteran-owned business.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders