VEP Class of 2018 pose for a group photo in a classroom
The VEP Class of 2018

UF Warrington’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program accepting applications until February 2019

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Veterans looking to develop their entrepreneurial skills have the opportunity to do so for free in the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. The program, presented by Warrington’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, is currently accepting applications for its 2019 program until February 15.

“VEP at the University of Florida was developed to make an impact with aspiring veteran entrepreneurs who are dreamers and doers and to help them harness and focus their entrepreneurial spirit on the endeavors for which they believe will add significant value in the marketplace,” said Jamie Kraft, director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. “We could not be more proud to work with this group of change makers, as they have given so much for their country.”

VEP is designed for service-disabled veterans who are interested in starting a venture as a means of financial independence or that have an existing small business that they would like to grow. The program, completed by more than 200 veterans since it began in 2014, helps veterans make the transition from military life to the entrepreneurial world a successful one.

VEP uses an integrated model covering the key elements of successful entrepreneurship, offering an innovative and effective combination of focused, practical training in venture creation and growth, accompanied by a support structure for graduates of the program. VEP’s integrated model includes three phases:

Phase I

Concept Development and Self Study (March 25 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 issues.

Phase II

Boot Camp (May 11-18) – Delegates arrive in Gainesville for an intense eight-day workshop on the UF campus with faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts. This hands-on learning experience exposes participants to the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership.

Sample topics at the Boot Camp include business concepts, business plans, funding, marketing, accounting, operations, human resources, legal issues and more.

Phase III

Mentoring and Venture Development (May 25 to November 30) – Once back home, delegates receive mentorship for eight months from entrepreneurs and business experts. Participants can rely on these successful business professionals to help provide solutions to emerging problems.

To participate, veterans should meet the following three requirements:

  • Have separated from active duty service (or are in the administrative process of separating) with an honorable discharge
  • Either:
    • 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
  • Demonstrate an intense interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership/management

VEP is supported and guided by a committee comprised of high level military and retired military officers.

Veterans interested in applying or learning more about the program can visit the program’s webpage.