Written by: Marty Skovlund Jr
The seventh-annual Barnes Family Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) continues this week at Syracuse University. Each of the 28 veterans accepted for admission into the program is hard at work attending lectures and participating in workshops aimed at perfecting their business pitches until the program’s closing ceremony on Sunday, July 28. EBV is a one-of-a-kind initiative that leverages the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities.
Marty Skovlund Jr., a student in this year’s EBV program, has founded Blackside Concepts, a business dedicated to providing quality clothing products and bridging the gap between the military and civilian community. The official blog site for his business, Hit the Woodline, seeks to raise awareness and rally support for our nation’s troops as well as provide quality products to those veterans who are currently making the transition back into civilian life. During his time here at SU, Skovlund is updating followers of his company on his personal thoughts and experiences while attending the program.
Below is an excerpt from Skovlund’s blog, recapping his first day at EBV-SU:
“…Day one had us arriving to the Syracuse University Sheraton Hotel for in processing and orientation. I live about 45 minutes away so I drove in with my wife to be dropped off, but other students were flown in by the program and picked up from the airport. You were greeted in the lobby by Jared (the national program director) and his team, and they squared you away with your room key and a pretty sweet haul of gear that included a large shoulder bag, polo shirt, business materials, and even a really nice shaving kit. After receiving my key, and being notified that we all had our own rooms -which immediately distinguished this program from anything the military would run – I headed up to my room to prepare for the next hard time. I had about 45 minutes to un- pack, organize, and get my tie on before we had to be back down in the lobby.
After everyone made it down, we took off as a group to go next door to the Whitman School of Management – one of the top ranked business schools in the world – for our initial orientation. We first had to get professional head shots taken, and then made our way into the classroom. We kicked off the orientation with the founder of the program, Dr. Mike Haynie, who is an entrepreneur professor at SU as well as a USAF veteran. This is when the importance of the program started to sink in. He threw out impressive statistics about the results this program produces (many of their graduates have eight figure revenues), as well as the great people that support the program. He also let us know that it was no accident that we found ourselves in this class, out of 198 applicants, only 28 of us were selected for attendance. Out of the 28 student-veterans, we had quite the variety – both junior and senior enlisted, junior and senior officers (highest rank in the class that I am aware of is a retired Ranger LTC). All four branches plus the USCG were represented, both male and females, and a variety of education levels. Some have their high school diploma; some have multiple master’s degrees. Some students don’t know what business they are going to start yet, some have been in business already for ten years with impressive revenues. The diversity of the class is truly impressive and indicative of the program in general…”
Skovlund continues to update the blog on his experience with the EBV program and news about Blackside Concepts. Several blog entries recapping the program thus far can be accessed here.
The EBV was founded at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management and is operated under the auspices of the University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). Originally offered by Syracuse University beginning in 2007, EBV has since expanded to include seven additional major universities across the U.S. Each session of the program is offered at no cost to post-9/11 veterans who have been disabled by their service.
Marty Skovlund Jr. recently separated from active duty of the U.S. Army after eight years of service. He has been awarded numerous military honors including the Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars and the Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars.