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TechStars launches innovative program to foster veteran’s business ideas (Updated)

In an economy where jobs are scarce and innovation is vital to success, Boulder-based startup accelerator TechStars is launching a unique program to help veterans and service members see their business ideas come to fruition. 

The new initiative, called Patriot Boot Camp, seeks to provide veterans and military personnel interested in creating their own tech companies the skills and tools they need to launch their ideas. Running from July 18-20 in Washington, D.C., the three-day intensive course includes, but is not limited to, lectures and personal collaborative sessions with TechStars mentors and alumni, as well as other tech industry insiders and motivated entrepreneurs, and the chance to interact with successful startup companies from the D.C. area.

In a blog post, TechStars’ chief executive David Cohen wrote Patriot Boot Camp will serve to be “the catalyst for veterans and service members to kick-start a company, find co-founders and advance as entrepreneurs.”

Cohen went on to say that the program, which will be hosted on the Georgetown University campus, will help “guide participants to solidify a business idea, focus their fundraising pitch, improve their accelerator application, refine their product concept, or demonstrate progress as it relates to their entrepreneurial path.” 

The course will culminate with a Digital Demo Day, on which each participant will give a presentation of his or her refined business idea and receive peer and mentor feedback. Investors and media will be invited to the event, which will also be promoted online. 

Patriot Boot Camp is part of TechStars’ new RisingStars program. The goal of the program, says Cohen, “is to extend technology company startup opportunities to demographic groups that are currently underrepresented in the technology startup community.”

Taylor McLemore, co-founder of Prediculous and a sponsor and organizer of Patriot Boot Camp, says the program aims to help veterans gain “complete control over their own destiny and the opportunity to create their own jobs.”

McLemore wants to be involved with the program because he says, like many Americans, his family has a devotion to the military. He wants to give back to those that have given us so much.

“My family comes from a long line of service,” he says. “I thought it was great what Congress was doing last November to help veterans unemployment, and then I started thinking if you really wanted to help them in another direction, focus on a way to enable them to start their own businesses.”

McLemore praised veterans’ and service members’ abilities and noted that the economy could benefit greatly for employing the veteran work force. He also highlighted the disproportional rate of unemployment veterans face.

“Our veterans have incredible leadership skills and problem solving skills, but they’re being underutilized,” he says. “We need to support them.”

America’s veterans know all too well the realities of unemployment. Recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the unemployment rate for post-9/11 era veterans has risen to 12.7 percent. For comparison, the national unemployment rate currently hovers around 8.2 percent. 

Patriot Boot Camp may be just what many veterans are looking for. It will give those interested in the tech industry the opportunity to put their time, focus and energy into something they are truly passionate about.

From the official announcement:

“Patriot Boot Camp will include presentations by TechStars mentors, alumni, and technology industry leaders, one-on-one mentoring from the TechStars Team, TechStars Alumni, and industry leaders, interaction with other motivated entrepreneurs, education on the process to build a technology startup, interaction with successful D.C. startups, access to startup community resources, and peer and mentor feedback. The mentors and speakers will be drawn from the rich pool of our mentors, alumni, and friends of the TechStars community. These are highly motivated individuals who are emotionally invested in supporting Veteran entrepreneurs.

The program will conclude with a Digital Demo Day, similar in form to the TechStars Demo Day. The event will be the summation of the Patriot Boot Camp experience for the Veteran or Service Member. Over the course of the three-day program, the presentations by TechStars mentors and one-on-one mentoring will guide the participant to solidify a business idea, focus their fundraising pitch, improve their accelerator application, refine their product concept, or demonstrate progress as it relates to their entrepreneurial path. Each participant or group of participants will deliver a short presentation on Digital Demo Day to share their progress. We’ll invite investors and media, and broadcast and promote the event online. Apply to Patriot Boot Camp which happens July 18-20.”

Information and a link to the program are online at techstars.com/techstars-announces-patriot-boot-camp/.

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