Students in class

Veterans entrepreneurship program currently accepting applications

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP), hosted by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, is currently accepting applications for its 2016 program.

The VEP is designed for disabled veterans who are interested in starting a business or who have an existing early stage business. The program, launched at UF in 2013, hosts 40 military veterans annually, and provides them hands-on training and mentoring for their entrepreneurial concepts and ventures. More than 400 veterans have participated in the VEP, which is free of charge to veterans.

“VEP is a rigorous and transformative program that helps these men and women who have paid such a price for our freedom pursue their dreams,” explains Dr. Michael Morris, the founder of the VEP. “We cover all the costs and feature our best faculty and entrepreneurs. For those with a real passion to start or grow a venture, VEP is a game changer.”

The program consists of three phases that provide practical training in venture creation and growth, and is accompanied by a support structure for participants as they pursue their ventures. The three phases include:

Phase I – Concept Development and Self Study (March 28 to April 29): 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 7-14): 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.

Phase III – Mentoring and Venture Development (May 21 to Nov. 1): 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 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 motivation to start or grow a business.
Instruction, materials, travel expenses, lodging and meals for the Phase II Boot Camp 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 the Center.

The application deadline for the 2016 VEP is Feb. 29. For more information, contact Dr. Michael Morris, VEP Program Director, via email or (352) 273-0329 or visit Warrington’s VEP webpage.