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Vets can pitch business ideas for real startup cash at upcoming event

Aug. 15, 2013 - 10:24AM   |  
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Doug Doan doesn’t just say he thinks veterans are a good investment; he has his checkbook at the ready.

Doan’s group will be among more than 80 early-stage investment groups at an upcoming National Defense University Foundation event where selected vets can pitch their business ideas to investors with the money to turn the concepts into reality.

Investors slated to attend the Veterans Venture Forum Capstone Demo Day in Washington represent about $1 billion in investable wealth, according to information from the university foundation.

“Some of the best American companies were all started by veterans,” Doan said. “I think we’re going to see some wonderful people that are going to make great companies.”

Up to 20 vets will be selected to pitch to investors at National Defense University on Capstone Demo Day, scheduled for Oct. 29, said foundation spokesman James Boyle, who added that additional arrangements could be made depending on demand.

The Veterans Venture Forum also has begun a series of training sessions on the National Defense University campus intended to help vets hone and present their business ideas. The next is scheduled for Aug. 22, and they are planned to continue for four more sessions, on the second and fourth Thursdays of September and October.

Attending the training sessions is not required for participation in the Oct. 29 event, Boyle said. Both the training sessions and the Capstone Demo Day are open to vets regardless of whether they are students or alumni of NDU, and there are no costs for vets.

“To attend these educational sessions, I think, is really just a great professional growth environment,” said Cathleen Pearl, president of the NDU Foundation. And, she added, pitching to investors will serve not just as a chance for vets to get funding but also as “practice to get comfortable and confident” with a skill important for any entrepreneur.

Average business startup costs typically run about $250,000, Doan said. Usually, startup investment doesn’t all come from one investor or group but from several, all with different focuses and expertise.

Doan said he doesn’t think investors have paid enough attention to vet entrepreneurs to date. But he expects that to change.

“Investors are pretty savvy people. They’re going to go where the best returns are,” he said. “I think the next great company is going to be started by a vet.”

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