Dr. Michael Morris

CEI launches innovative program to help business-minded disabled veterans

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI) at the Warrington College of Business Administration is launching a free program to assist disabled veterans succeed in business.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) is designed for veterans who are interested in starting a business or who have an existing business. The program consists of three phases that provides practical training in venture creation and growth, and is accompanied by a support structure for participants as they pursue their ventures.

“This rigorous, hands-on program is for veterans with a true passion to start something,” explains Professor Michael Morris, VEP founder. “It is about helping to empower those who have paid the price for our freedom to create their own futures, and to create ventures and jobs, hopefully for other vets.”

The program’s three phases are:

Phase I – Concept Development and Self Study (March 24 to April 26): Through online discussions moderated by the College’s entrepreneurship faculty, participants work on developing business concepts. Delegates with existing businesses work on understanding and shaping relevant business issues.

Phase II – Bootcamp (May 3-10): Delegates arrive in Gainesville for an intense eight day workshop on the University of Florida campus with faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts. This hands-on learning experience exposes participants to the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership.

Phase III – Mentoring and Venture Development (May 19 to January 2015): Delegates receive mentorship for eight months from entrepreneurs and business experts. Participants can rely on these successful business professionals to help provide solutions to existing problems.

To qualify for the program, veterans must meet three requirements:

1. Separated from active duty service (or currently in the administrative process of separating) with an honorable discharge.

2. Identified as disabled by the Veteran’s Administration or Department of Defense based on a “service connected” disability or “service distinguished” based on exemplary military conduct.

3. Demonstrates an intense interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership/management.

Instruction, materials, travel expenses, lodging and meals for the Phase II Bootcamp will be provided at no cost to each delegate. The costs of the VEP are underwritten by sponsors and private donors, with operations and program development provided by CEI.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 20. For more information, contact Dr. Michael Morris, VEP Program Director, via email or 352-273-0329 or visit the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program.