Sunday, August 30, 2009

Program Update

Dear friends of FSU EBV,

The dust has finally settled and all of the bills have been paid for FSU EBV 2009. If you were fortunate enough to meet this wonderful group, I know you were impressed by their enthusiasm and work ethic. In fact, they actually complained (gently) when we tried to give them a relaxed evening of fun. They wanted to get back to work on their presentations. Equally impressive was the dedication and hard work put in by all of the volunteers that made this possible. The countless hours that they devoted to this effort proves to me that the spirit of service is alive and well at Florida State.

One of the highlights of this year’s program was the spontaneous flag retirement ceremony. We were returning from dinner at the Torreya Grill which was just across the parking lot from our hotel. As we were walking, one of the vets noticed the tattered and faded American Flag flying at the hotel. It was in a sad state and this veteran decided to do something about it. He took up a collection from among his classmates and they purchased a new flag. As luck or fate would have it, Flag Day was two days later. So on the 13th of June, in front of the hotel and in-between thunderstorms, the veterans staged a flag retirement ceremony. The ceremony was conducted in military tradition, replete with salutes and facing movements. Needless to say, witnessing these 19 disabled veterans honor the flag of the country they so selflessly served, left an indelible impression on all of us present.

Another highlight occurred when we took them to Doak Campbell Stadium for a “tailgate” styled reception. Our team of amazing volunteers pulled out all the stops and worked closely with FSU Athletic Director, Randy Spetman’s staff to absolutely stun the veterans. As the veterans were on the football field meeting the varsity football team and tossing around footballs, all of their pictures, names, and hometowns, were projected from the Jumbotron, one at a time. The looks in their eyes as they realized what was happening was priceless. They all cheered one another’s moment of fame as each successive photo flashed across the giant screens. I think it is safe to say that as of that moment, there were 19 new Seminole fans.

Regarding their progress as entrepreneurs, the 2009 class of 19 veterans has been quite busy since the conclusion of the program. We are in constant contact with them and several have hit the ground running. Many of them are still researching the feasibility of their ideas and to that end we worked out an arrangement with the FSU library to allow them access to FSU’s research databases for the 12 months following their completion of the program. This is an incredible asset which will allow them to conduct sophisticated market analyses. At least 5 of our class of 2009 have established LLC’s, 2 of which are already generating revenue, while another has already bid on two federal government contracts. Another vet is preparing for the required state certification and licensing for his venture, another is investigating a franchise opportunity, while another is registering as a 501C3. I am sure the months ahead will bring much exciting news as this amazing bunch pursues their dreams.

At the national level, UCLA, Texas A&M, and Syracuse have all concluded their programs as well, and Purdue’s vets arrive tomorrow. I recently returned from speaking at Syracuse’s program, and true to form, they put together a stellar program. In fact, several of the Syracuse veteran’s have already contacted me. The collective impact of what we are accomplishing is nothing short of amazing. We will work on putting together a national newsletter that highlights the accomplishments of EBV grads from across the country.

We are already gearing up for FSU EBV 2010 with our tentative dates for the in-residence program being 8-16 June. The applications continue to come in daily, so we are almost certain that the demand for the program will far exceed our capacity. That being said, we are still striving to make every eligible disabled veteran aware of this great opportunity. Yet as always, our biggest challenge is in fundraising. Please consider pledging your support to this worthwhile program. Sufficient pledges to the 2010 program will allow us to move forward in our planning with confidence that we will have adequate funds. The past two years have been tenuous as we were not fully funded until the last minute.

On a final note, FSU EBV has formally been aligned under the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship (JMI) here in the College of Business. As the new Managing Director of JMI, I will continue to be the program director for FSU EBV and will continue to work towards making it a permanent component of the service and outreach efforts of JMI, the College of Business, and Florida State University.

I will send more updates over the coming months. Please feel free to forward this email to others that may be interested in supporting our effort. Also, my schedule permitting, I am happy to speak to groups about our program.

On behalf of all of the veterans and the entire team of FSU EBV volunteers, we wish to thank you for all you have done to make this possible.

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