Lawrence Salone Testimonial - Class of 2013
My decision to start my business came with many mixed feelings. “How hard could it be? After all, I had led troops in Iraq. At least with a business no one is shooting at you,” I would say to myself most mornings before I started my business. I was cautious because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
To mitigate that risk I earned an MBA with a concentration on global entrepreneurship. Getting an MBA helped me structure my thoughts but because I was not actually in business some of the nuggets I was taught went in one ear and out the other.
What was I thinking? Here I was with a very successful career, climbing the corporate ladder, but ultimately miserable. There was a void in my life. I felt the transferrable skills I learned in the military were serving me well corporately. I needed to know if I could do it on my own.
Fear or Fair weather I had made up my mind. I was going to open my business! The day I quit was liberating. I have never slept that good in my life. The next day, when it all sank in, was like being on a turbulent airplane. My mind was racing. I re-read my business plan 30 times. But I remembered the WHY behind starting my business. I remembered leaving the wire in Iraq. There was no going back. We had a mission to accomplish and now, so did I.
I am very sensitive to the post deployment challenges facing our veterans. There were a significant number of job loss, incarcerations, and murder suicides within the veteran community in Louisiana. I’m not one to complain about anything, so I started the Post Trauma Institute of Louisiana, a mental health organization that exists to remove the barriers to delivering the highest quality mental healthcare.
The first two quarters of my business were interesting. I blew through money I had set aside per my business plan, but figured out a way. I was no longer drinking through a water hose when I got the notification about the EBV program. I had applied a few months after I started my business in 2012. I was excited. I expected this program to help me immensely because this was no longer theory this was the real world and I had real employees, real financial goals, and real problems.
“Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, Home study, 8 days out of the office?,” I said to myself, “BRING IT ON!”.
Dr. Blass and the entire FSU EBV staff went above and beyond to welcome us to the program and accurately set expectations for what should happen during the boots on the ground portion. I was ecstatic because during the online/home study portion I was able to pick my head up out of the trenches and think about real world solutions to the concerns I had in my business. I was able to make subtle tweaks during the online phase that helped me become more efficient. The more efficient your processes and systems are the better chance you have at sustainability and growth.
The Phase II nights were long and hard but even after getting to my room at 10:30 each night I found myself reviewing my processes and systems. I was getting the answers I came for. To be honest the environment was an entrepreneurs dream. EBV is a think tank with people that have an “I MUST” attitude. While most of our businesses were different the principles EBV stressed applied to us all.
The guest speakers knew us. They offered us little nuggets about our businesses; in fact I left Tallahassee with 21 pages of little nuggets. The greatest thing about my EBV experience was that EBV validated what I felt prior to starting my business was normal and that I now have 700 other people that are doing what I am doing…impacting our communities, our families, and our nation through our businesses.
Ben Simmons Testimonial - Class of 2013
I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit but only recently did I set out to become more educated in business development. I just happened upon the EBV program by accident and decided to give it a try. I had no idea how much of an impact this experience would have on my life. Here it is, days after completion and I’m still in awe of the entire experience.
After acceptance, we jumped right into the program with an intense online class where we were able to meet some of the EBV Staff and our classmates. We were given assignments which required significant reading and research but this was only the beginning. The questions asked were relevant and very thought provoking; each question better prepared us for success. I could have stopped with this portion alone and would have been well prepared to move forward in my business development.
I assumed the in-residence portion would be beneficial to me but it turned out to be life-changing! From arrival to departure I never stopped learning and was constantly impressed with every aspect. The staff and volunteers were so welcoming and made us feel like family but never got off focus of their mission. Each and every one of the Professors, Entrepreneurs and other speaker were outstanding. They were all brilliant in their fields, wonderful presenters and masterful motivators. I cannot say enough about them and their desire to contribute to the EBV Program. They opened their brilliant minds and caring hearts for all of us to explore. I don’t know how, but the FSU EBV, led courageously by Dr. Randy Blass, found the perfect balance of personalization, professionalism, education and support. There’s nothing left to improve upon in this program. Nothing!
We were also welcomed by other FSU staff, student and other supporters of the EBV Program. Everyone was so kind and selfless with their time, knowledge and encouragement. I couldn’t possibly thank them enough.
If the FSU EBV staff and supporters weren’t enough, I was blessed to be assembled with 21 wonder Veterans which made me a better person; I will not forget any of them. I learned so much from our conversations away from the classroom as well as the discussions in the classroom. The family I am now connected with from the FSU EBV Class of 2013 is priceless. I wish them all the very best in the future.
FSU EBV Class of 2013, Dr. Randy Blass, Ashley, Justin, Brittany, Tanner, Esteban and all of the other wonderful FSU staff, volunteers and supporters, thank you for changing my life. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity and am forever indebted to all of you.
I highly recommend this program; get there if you can! You will not be disappointed.
Best wishes and great successes to all of you!
Benjamin L. Simmons
FSU EBV Class of 2013
Michael Craig Testimonial - Class of 2012
I recently attended the Entrepreneurship Boot camp for Veterans with Disabilities founded by Dr. Mike Haynie and held at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. FSU’s willingness to provide this opportunity is such a blessing. I cannot begin to explain the amazing quality of people participating and who brought their valuable experience and training to help us in our business dreams.
Here are a few sayings having to do with helping and serving others that capture the heart of the program and now is renewed in my own heart, having completed the training.
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others." Danny Thomas
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Benjamin Disraeli
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
“It's not that successful people are givers; it is that givers are successful people.” Patti Thor
It was an amazing time of learning with outstanding seasoned guest speakers. Each successful in their own fields and who were willing and excited to share their wisdom and experience to us as students, on how to make our way in the world of business. It was also great fun to get to know so many interesting and talented fellow students who will be friends for life. The wonderful staff and volunteers led by Dr. Randy Blass, made for a great atmosphere and smooth process from the day I checked in until the day I left.
The generosity and willingness of so many gracious people and organizations to invest their time and money into the EBV program eans a great deal to us as veterans and our families. It was a special and meaningful experience for me. I am excited about applying the information I have been provided, as I explore the options and opportunities to make a successful business of my writing and art.
The most important thing I am taking away from the training and experience is summarized in two words. “Hope” and “Help.” Having gone through this program shows me there is indeed hope in being able to build a successful business, because of the gracious help provided by others. Providing hope and giving help is the attitude I am taking with me to apply in my relationship with others.
Thank you to everyone responsible for keeping this important and meaningful program as a part of FSU! Very Respectfully, Michael Richard Craig - EBV 2012 Graduate
James Martin Testimonial - Class of 2012
When I first learned of the EBV program, I knew I had to be a part of it. I had several ideas about businesses or nonprofit organizations, but I did not really know what I wanted to pursue. EBV seemed professional and organized from conversations with the staff and the online phase of the program. However, I still did not really know what to expect.
I was absolutely blown away with EBV when I arrived. The staff welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like we were truly welcome. Right off the bat, we received tons of information from true professionals. I learned more in those ten days at EBV than I could have ever imagined. The instructors were very knowledgeable and really wanted help in any way they could. I couldn't get enough!
I went from barely knowing what I wanted to do to having a great plan and a great network going forward. The program does not end when you leave though. I cannot emphasize the networking side of EBV enough. They offer programs upon completion, as well as, several connections to communicate with when you have any questions or concerns about your business. You will leave with a great support system. I really felt like part of the EBV family when I left. Not to mention the motivation I gained after those eight days.
I would highly recommend this program to any disabled veteran who is interested in business. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. I am very proud to say that I'm a graduate of FSU EBV! Go Noles!
William Puopolo Testimonial - Class of 2011
Ten days of comradely, heartfelt stories and shared experiences. Ten days of practical, innovative and encouraging business training. Ten days of the 2011 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans; where dreams were born and bonds forged.
It was with great pleasure that we witnessed the whole FSU community come together to support our Wounded Warriors. We joined the military to be part of something greater than ourselves. We, once again, are part of something greater than ourselves: The Florida State University Community. A community bursting with talent, knowledge, and support. A family we can be proud to be part of and eager to contribute to.
I want to especially commend Dr. Randy Blass for his vision, hard work, and success in developing the FSU EBV as the “Rolex” of business training programs for Veterans. In our fast paced world it is amazing how Dr. Blass has brought together so many supporters to provide for those who served.
The seeds have been planted for our Wounded Warriors to continue to serve and strengthen our great nation through their business and nonprofit endeavors. I offer our gratitude to all Seminoles for their support and more importantly their overwhelming belief in the power of VeteraNoles!
Chad Shadle Testimonial - Class of 2011
I would like to take this opportunity to express to you my feelings and admiration of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (FSU-EBV). I have always had a dream of being my own boss, especially since my injuries have made it difficult for me to be mobile. As far as physicality, I am not the perfect employee, and I thought getting a
good job was not in my future. I was wrong. I attended the EBV course not knowing if I had what it took to be an effective and successful business owner. I thought I had some business sense, but after the first day of classes, I realized I knew nothing at all about what it really takes to make a run at this. What I learned was that our military training combined with our intensive EBV course instruction, makes us a perfect blend of small business owner. We have the drive, ambition, and metal fortitude that create a blend for success in small business ventures.
The creation of the EBV program allows disabled veterans an opportunity to learn and develop the skills necessary in today’s fast paced economy. With the EBV course available at college campuses around the country, veterans now have access to this first class training free of charge. The cost of this program comes almost entirely from donors and sponsors. The course has introduced the most knowledgeable instructors with real world entrepreneurial skills and many are very successful small business owners themselves. They combine course projects, along with classroom instruction to make this the most immersion intensive training you will find and condense it into nine days.
I, personally, have opened two businesses within three months of graduating from the FSU-EBV course. I cannot say enough about the program, the instructors, the sponsors, or the leadership of the program. They truly care for the Veteran and their well-being. Everything about this program is first class from the day you are picked up to the day you are dropped off and everything in between. My future goal is to become a donor of this program, to have the ability to give back what they gave me; a new and brighter future!
CJ Greer Testimonial - Class of 2009
I want to thank the EBV Program for the opportunity to help me create my entrepreneurial endeavors. Randy Blass and his staff provided a critical support network that I can use to continue building a strong foundation to establish my company DARG LLC and whatever else it grows into.
During those intense days of the EBV program, I couldn't take enough notes with all the information that was presented to us. It was explained that this wasn't a how-to program that we could follow step by step, but a process that would only cause us to generate more questions. Wait until you see some of the questions that I have come up with!
Since getting back from the program, I waited almost two months to let everything sink in. From there, I reviewed the many EBV PowerPoint presentations, started networking, asked tons of questions and continued developing my business structure and business model for DARG LLC.
What stuck for me from the EBV Program? I realized I came out of the EBV program with a new attitude, a little extra knowledge, a team of caring individuals who are making a difference in the world and a focused agenda to have my company succeed. I found that measuring my level of success can come in many forms. Success for me is the fact that I am doing what I love to do, seeing that we are on the verge of making our first milestone of selling an enhanced medical drill bit to the government and finding additional services that DARG LLC can provide.
I feel that what's next for me is to continue developing and recreating myself to make a difference not only for my family and business, but also to make a difference in my community. I am already working with two groups in Lincoln County to promote the growth and well being for individuals who live, work and play in our beautiful county. Again, thank you for all your work.
Johnny "Mo" Moncayo Testimonial - Class of 2009
When I found out about the program and spoke with Dr. Blass, I was skeptical about what the EBV program promised and that it was truly "free." I am happy to report that the program more than lived up to its promises.
When the 'bootcamp' started, I felt a little out of place. However, my anxiety was soon relieved by the staff and the other veterans whom I had much in common with. I was amazed at the quality of the program, with a mix of Ph.D. professors and business school faculty as instructors, along with a host of volunteers who did a great job of putting this all together. It was clear that they wanted to be there for us. Dr. Blass' obvious loyalty to our country and fellow military brethren was beyond impressive – he made everyone in the EBV 2009 feel like they were the most important individual in the world.
Many of us who attended the program had an idea about what business we wanted to go into, and some did not. By the end of the course, everyone had a great idea and a plan that was started into motion. The staff really encouraged us to dig deep into ourselves and find out what we really wanted to accomplish. They encouraged us and gave us a sense that we were doing the right thing and headed in the right direction.
I have many diplomas from military courses I have taken, but the EBV certificate was the grandest of them all. It is the only one that was given to me from a school that I felt cared about the transition of veterans from uniform to business suit. Of all the military diplomas I have received, it is the only certificate I plan to hang on my wall.
While my goal of owning an airline is still my primary goal, I was instructed that this may not be the one that actually gets me started. This has proven to be true. I recently submitted a Marine contract bid (with a fellow veteran) to train America's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to fight and return with honor and will hear soon if we won the contract. This venture may enable me to fulfill my real dream of airline ownership.
I cannot put into words what the EBV program has meant to me. My dreams and goals continue to change and grow, and I intend to not only pursue my business ventures, but also to complete my bachelor's, MBA, and Ph.D. (in entrepreneurship) degrees at Florida State. I hope one day I can give back to the EBV program a measure of what has been graciously given to me.
Sayngeun Phouamkha Testimonial - Class of 2009
When I arrived at the Florida State University College of Business to attend the 2009 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), I didn't know what I was getting myself into, much like when I went off to boot camp for the first time. Over the course of the 9 day residency, I was mentally and physically transformed from an introverted person to an extroverted person. For me, this was the biggest accomplishment of the EBV program, and it has opened my world up to a vast network of new friends and professional acquaintances which in the past were as foreign to me as breathing water. The information overload I received at the EBV allowed me to re-assess how I approach all situations and events in my life. Now, I look at every encounter or event as an avenue of future possibilities that can be immediately explored if it relates to what I am working on right now, or stored for later reference.
Today for example, I was installing a printer for one of the executives at the company where I work. I knew it would take a while to get the new printer installed, so I casually struck up a conversation -- something I would never have done prior to the EBV. From that casual conversation, I learned that this executive used to have his own business doing IT Security contracting work for the government, which was very profitable, until our current company bought him out. I was intrigued about his experience, so I began asking him questions; I also explained that I had recently attended an entrepreneurship bootcamp and that I was in the process of starting a business as well. My description of the EBV program and what it has done for me got him interested in my situation. By the time the conversation had ended he had promised to be a customer when, not if, I started my company. This is but one of many similar incidents that have happened to me since leaving the EBV program.
I definitely encourage any disabled veteran who thinks they've reached rock bottom, and that nothing positive could be waiting for them around the corner, to give EBV a shot and to take it seriously when they do. It's been 4 months since I graduated EBV, and my business plans are constantly rolling. I am slowly building up a line of customers before I eventually quit my current job and go full force into being an entrepreneur. With the wonderful support I am constantly receiving from the EBV team, even after graduation, how can I not succeed?
Sayngeun Phouamkha (SY)
Eulanda Shingleton Testimonial - Class of 2009
I think the EBV program is one of the best for disabled veterans who want to start a business. One of my goals since completing the program is to spread the word about the EBV to all who will listen.
I am a person who has a hard time "thinking outside the box." However, through the help of all of the instructors and volunteers who stayed up with us during the intensive nine days and nights, I was able to direct my mind toward the future. This wonderful program helped me to discover a more purposeful meaning for my life - not just being a wife or a mother - but someone who can leave the military and be very successful and make a difference in society!
I was able to concentrate on putting my ideas on paper and presented my venture to a panel of successful entrepreneurs (which was very grueling for me!!!). Sometime in the near future I will turn my vision into reality. I am convinced that the essential tools that are needed to start a business were taught throughout the entire course; for instance, how to get financing, how to utilize the government system to start a business, how to use your disability to your advantage, etc. I am able to apply the knowledge that I have learned from the EBV program to start one or several successful businesses as a result of the program.