Military Veterans Pitch Their Small Business

TAMPA, Fla. — On this Veteran’s Day, it’s good to know that Hillsborough County leaders are doing what they can to support veteran owned businesses.  All this month, new, small businesses owned by veterans or active military families are getting a unique networking opportunity.

Chad Walker is the founder and CEO of ClienTell. It’s an app contractors can use to get information on possible clients.  “We let them save time and money by rating their customers for the first time ever.”

Chad served our country in the U.S. Navy for 6 years. Once he was out, he needed to find something to do.  “It’s something that a lot of veterans struggle with when they transition is that lack of focus, lack of vision. And you find yourself in kind of a void after your time in service.  Now I have a very laser focused vision, laser focused mission. I want to help contractors stop hemorrhaging money out of their businesses.”

This month Chad is one of four veteran business owners getting to make their pitch to a group called 1 Million Cups. Lynn Kroesen is the manager of the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City. It’s a program through Hillsborough County’s Economic Development department. “It’s an opportunity for them to get that idea out there and receive feedback from the community.  We do have two presenters each week and we’ve been going almost 5 years now and we have probably over a hundred success stories that have officially launched their businesses from that program specifically.”

YÜJ is a new granola product created by Massiel Villanueva. “I noticed there was not enough healthy snacks out there so I came up with YUJ granola, which is a vegan, gluten free, soy free and organic and only glycemic sugar.”

Her husband is currently a major in the army. And after 14 years of marriage, 11 moves and 3 kids, she was ready to have something to call her own.   “Being able to have something that is yours besides the military, I think also for my husband he can now see besides the military that there’s also a different world out there for civilians.”

Click here to find out more about the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City.