Veteran Entrepreneurship Program
OSU accepting applications for veterans’ entrepreneurial training program
By: Suzanne Simpson, Spears School communications assistant
(May 31, 2011 Stillwater, OK) – Oklahoma State University is now accepting applications for its annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. This cutting-edge, experiential training program empowers disabled veterans of the U.S. military and equips them with the skills they need to turn their business ideas into workable business models.
Statistically, disabled veterans have more barriers to success than the average entrepreneur because it is more difficult for them to access resources and networks when they start a business, said Michael Morris, the head of OSU’s School of Entrepreneurship and the founder of the VEP. Morris, who is a veteran himself, said the VEP is specifically geared to provide them with the practical, focused training and the strong support networks they need to create and grow a new venture.
“Like a military bootcamp, this program is intense, rigorous and challenging,” Morris said. “Building upon key elements of OSU’s comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, the program consists of a series of training modules designed to assist [veterans] in creating a business that can be profitable. We make this program available to service distinguished veterans as a way to say ‘thanks’ for all they have done.”
The VEP is presented by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Entrepreneurship in OSU’s Spears School of Business and offers a three-stage learning experience. Participants complete an online self-study session and an intense eight-day on-campus bootcamp, followed by 10 months of mentoring and support from successful entrepreneurship educators from around the country, VEP faculty members and volunteer entrepreneurs.
The entire VEP program – transportation, accommodation, books, food and instruction – is provided free of charge to participants. OSU alumni and supporters have rallied around the program and donated thousands of dollars to help make the program possible.
“I believe we owe it to these veterans who have paid such a high price to serve our country,” Morris said. “The whole idea is to empower veterans and to show them a path forward that centers on entrepreneurship.”
Cynde Collins-Clark, the mother of one of last year’s participants, said the VEP was a wonderful experience for her son, Joe Collins, who has suffered from a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so severe that he barely left his bed for three years. Even with Collins’s terrible illness, Collins-Clark said he recognized the VEP program as an opportunity for growth.
“It was extremely difficult for him because of the degree and severity of his illness, but he said it was one of the most awesome and unbelievable programs he has ever attended,” Collins-Clark said. “I attended on ‘graduation night,’ which was the final day of the week on campus, and it was one of the most honoring events I have ever been to for veterans. I would strongly encourage you to share this opportunity with any disabled veteran. It is state of the art, amazing, and their follow through is as excellent as the program itself.”
The deadline for application is Oct. 1, and participants will be selected by Nov. 1. The online self-study session will be available to participants from Dec. 5 to Jan. 13, 2012, and the eight-day bootcamp will be held Feb. 4 - 11, 2012, on OSU’s campus in Stillwater, Okla.
For more information about the VEP 2012, visit the VEP website at http://entrepreneurship.okstate.edu/vep, send an email to VEP [at] okstate [dot] edu or call 405-744-7552.
The OSU entrepreneurship program is two-pronged, consisting of the academic-focused OSU School of Entrepreneurship and the outreach-focused Riata Center for Entrepreneurship. The School of Entrepreneurship offers an undergraduate major, an undergraduate minor for business and non-business students, an MBA concentration, a master’s in entrepreneurship and a PhD, reaching across the OSU campus to make entrepreneurship courses available to all students. The Riata Center offers a diverse portfolio of experiential programs to immerse students in entrepreneurship, as well as outreach programs for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs across the state. Together, both units develop entrepreneurial leaders, encourage campus-wide academic collaboration and foster engagement with the entrepreneurial community. In addition, the program conducts research that informs entrepreneurial practice and organizes national programs on best practices in the entrepreneurship classroom and in curriculum development.