The first annual “Vets Rock” event is scheduled this year for November 11th, Veterans Day at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. This combination concert and business conference is designed to celebrate veterans and promote veteran owned businesses. The event will be broadcasted all over the North East and the organizers hope eventually all over the country. We are proud and honored to have been selected to speak to the veterans there about how to start and grow their own businesses.
Aside from the entertainment which will be stellar, over a hundred Fortune 5000 businesses will attend to discover how they can hire vets and engage their businesses for products, parts, and services. The folks who are putting this together (Mohegan Sun, Til Duty Is Done, and News 8), have faced a multitude of challenges: assisting in organizing the vets and helping them in their participation; soliciting the donations of goods, entertainment, venues and services; getting the attention of the media; and pulling in the big corporations.
We will be donating our time to this great benefit by sharing our experiences and Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) with over 150 veteran owned businesses. Like our own undercapitalized business, their success is dependent on making the most out of their limited resources. Being resourceful, identifying and working with strategic alliances, and using our suppliers and buyers as bankers were some of the keys to our success that we will be sharing. By telling stories from our own business and those of our clients to demonstrate these points, the vets will have real life experiences of success to move them closer to their own goals.
We were invited to Vets Rock because of our work with the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with disabilities (EBV). This program is a crash course in entrepreneurship for disabled, but not disempowered, veterans. We are happy to donate our time over the years to helping this noble effort. After all, the vets are the perfect candidates for this kind of assignment of starting a business. They’re tough, work well under pressure, work well with team members, and understand goals and work hard to achieve them. We have learned that these are the qualifications required to start a business with very little resources, overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, work at it for years, and finally see it take off.
Vets Rock will take that message and more to the general public and the corporate community. We like this 21st century rebranding of Veterans Day. It’s an opportunity for music fans to discover the vet’s message: they are back home and ready to serve us in new ways. It’s an opportunity for corporations to discover the broad array of goods and services vets provide and learn how to diversify their contracts and employment by hiring vets and vet business.
Vets Rock has the potential to establish a new national tradition for another fun event Americans can enjoy on Veterans Day to rekindle respect, admiration, and patronage to these men and women who have given us all so much. This will give everyone an insight into what they’ve done, what they’re doing, and how we all can help. Bravo!
Great music will get people’s attention, but the cause behind it will transform this entertainment into action. Vets Rock! – In more ways than one! Happy Veterans Day everyone! Enjoy the show and support our vets!
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