Special to The Sun
More than 40 disabled United States veterans who faithfully served their country will travel to Stillwater the first week of February to participate in an intensive, eight-day entrepreneurial bootcamp on the campus of Oklahoma State University.
The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program continues to attract national attention as it enters its fourth year in empowering disabled American military veterans as they turn their business ideas into workable business models. The program offers a unique, highly innovative training program built around hands-on learning, personalized interaction and exposure to inspiring role models.
The eight-day VEP begins Feb. 2 and runs throughout the week before concluding with the VEP Gala Celebration Feb. 9. Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts will be the featured speaker at the VEP Gala Celebration at 6:30 p.m. at Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City.
The 41 veterans participating in the 2013 VEP were selected after a record number of 150 applications were received from military personnel all across the United States. The 2013 class includes veterans who have served in nearly every branch of the U.S. military, including the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. They will be traveling to Stillwater from their homes all across the nation, including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and several other states.
The VEP is presented by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business and offers a three-stage learning experience. Participants complete an online self-study session (completed in December and January), travel to Stillwater for the eight-day on-campus bootcamp, followed by 10 months of mentoring and support from successful entrepreneurship educators from around the country, VEP faculty members and volunteer entrepreneurs.
A team of world-class faculty, distinguished entrepreneurs and experts work closely with the veterans to provide opportunities to develop entrepreneurial ideas while also learning leading edge concepts, tools and frameworks to grow their existing business or potential business.
“Like a military bootcamp, this program is intense, rigorous and challenging,” said Michael Morris, professor and N. Malone Mitchell Chair in the School of Entrepreneurship and founder of the program. “Building upon key elements of OSU's comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, the program consists of a series of training modules designed to assist veterans in creating a business that can be profitable.
“We make this program available to service distinguished veterans as a way to say thanks for all they have done,” said Morris, a veteran himself.
There is no cost to participate in the VEP. The entire program — transportation, accommodations, books, food and instruction — is provided free of charge to each of the participants.
“I believe we owe it to these veterans who have paid such a high price to serve our country,” Morris said. “The whole idea is to empower veterans and to show them a path forward that centers on entrepreneurship.”
TO PURCHASE tickets to the VEP Gala Celebration on Feb. 9, call 405-744-7552. For more information about the VEP, visit http://entrepreneurship.okstate.edu/vep.