A new trend in startups: military veteran entrepreneurs. More and more veterans are making a mark in the world of entrepreneurship. Shaun So, who writes in Forbes about start-ups and veterans, is unsurprised:
It’s great to see people and investors get the point I’ve been barking about for over a year: veterans know how to lead organizations in chaotic environments and given the resources, they can work magic in a scrappy start-up environment.
In the past year or so, So notes seeing a trend of veteran-funded startups, veteran-only incubators and veteran-leaning investment groups, citing RideScout, Unite Us, HirePurpose, Scout Ventures and Hivers and Strivers as examples. RideScout, which launched last week in DC, is the most recent addition.
One of the founders, Lt. Col. Joseph Cosper, was interviewed at ABC News about how he thought his time in the Army gave him an entrepreneurial spirit:
The transportation iPhone app idea started as a result of Kopser’s long commute to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. “What should have been a five-minute commute would become a traffic nightmare depending on the day,” he says. While sitting on his porch in Arlington, Va., with friends he thought about his messy commute and ways to solve the problem. “I told them that I had the solution and turned an idea and PowerPoint into what RideScout is today,” he says.
He created RideScout with his Army friend Craig Cumming. RideScout guides or shows transportation options in real time, including taxis, buses, pedicabs, and rideshare options with friends, family or strangers. “People waste a lot of time in traffic and millions of fuel wasted. I’m making it easier and safer for people and get them out of their cars to other existing transportation,” he added.
It took Kopser, a 20-year veteran and graduate of West Point and Harvard’s Kennedy School, two years to launch the app, which will work later on Android and the web. “It was during my time in the Army that I saw how we use energy efficiently and that’s where I started thinking of ways we can be more efficient,” he says. He hopes one day people leave their cars at home and use public transportation.
The founders of RideScout highlight a very worthy point, too – veterans make great workers and entrepreneurs. Often, it’s an issue finding employment for veterans after returning from deployment and military retirement, blaming the transition to a regular lifestyle and commercial workforce as a difficult one. As entrepreneurs, however, they can use their drive to win and discipline to their advantage in the world of innovation.
They cite another example, two ex-Army Rangers, Blake Hall and Matthew Thompson, who founded ID.me, an online ID service, and TroopID, a service that helps active duty military men and women and their families use their military identification online for benefits and discounts.