Winners Announced in D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition; IVMF Receives $1 Million Gift from D’Aniello Family Foundation

Veteran entrepreneurs receive more than $110,000 in seed funding at national business competition; D’Aniello Family Foundation funds competition and makes transformational gift to IVMF

The D’Aniello Family Foundation and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) recently announced the winners of the D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition.  Eight veterans and military spouses, who are established or aspiring entrepreneurs, were presented with a share of more than $110,000 in seed funding, thanks to the generosity of the D’Aniello Family Foundation, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the EBV Foundation.

The business plan competition occurred on the heels of the D’Aniello Family Foundation’s recent
$1 million gift to IVMF and Syracuse University. This funding will help the IVMF strengthen their programming and operations to better serve transitioning service members, veterans and their families all over the country.

“We are grateful for this transformational gift and the commitment Dan D’Aniello (a 1968 alumnus of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, and a current member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees) is making to the IVMF,” says Dr. Mike Haynie, IVMF Executive Director and Syracuse University Vice Chancellor. “Dan’s support of the University’s work in this area will have substantial impact on our collective efforts to advance the post-service lives of our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.”

“The D’Aniello Family Foundation continues to be a great supporter of Syracuse University, particularly our Institute for Veterans and Military Families,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “This new gift will create new opportunities for Syracuse to expand business and entrepreneurship opportunities for our nation’s veterans. Today’s news is another step in making Syracuse University the best place in America for veterans and their families.”

The final judging and competition occurred during the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) National Training & Alumni Conference in Charlotte, NC this past weekend. The D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition was open to all graduates of the IVMF’s EBV and EBV-Families entrepreneurship training programs.

During the conference, 10 semifinalists had the opportunity to present a 15-minute business plan pitch and engage in 10 minutes of Q&A with a panel of expert judges. The program culminated on Sunday, Feb. 7, when four finalists, presented a final 90-second pitch live to the entire EBV National Conference audience.

The following veterans and military spouses are this year’s D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition Award recipients:

First Place: $35,000

Warren-Foster-1st-PlaceWarren Foster (Colorado Springs, CO) – Science Playhouse

Warren is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer with over 30 years of experience in training, operations and management. He is a 2015 graduate of the EBV Program at UCLA.  Science Playhouse is a hands-on science lab providing STEM education and enrichment programs for kids ages 6-12 in two large adjacent school districts in the North Colorado Springs area.


Second Place: $20,000

Paul-Kilgore-2nd-PlacePaul Kilgore (Evans Mills, NY) – WAORGANY Brewing, LLC

Paul is a retired U.S. Army Infantryman. He is a 2014 graduate of the EBV Program at Cornell University.  WAORGANY Brewing, LLC is a craft New York State Farm Brewery in the Jefferson County, North Country region of New York State. This is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business that will produce a large variety of fresh, high quality, hand crafted ales from locally sourced New York State ingredients, thus fostering the farm to glass concept, and making beers that are locally sourced, produced and sold.



Third Place: $15,000

Becky-Watson-3rd-PlaceBecky Watson (Norfolk, VA) – Music for Wellness, LLC

Becky is a U.S. Navy veteran and a 2014 graduate of the EBV Program at Syracuse University.
Music for Wellness, LLC is a small woman owned disabled veteran business in Norfolk, VA, that is passionate about serving older adults with music.  Its compassionate Board Certified Music Therapists transform, energize and engage older adults with memory impairments through evidenced based music therapy programs that enhance their quality of life.

Fourth Place: $10,000

Denise-Gee-Uzzelle-4thPlaceDenise Gee Uzzelle (Lancaster, TX) –  Starting Point Human Capital Advisors, LLC

Denise is a military spouse; her husband is a retired U.S. Army IT Specialist. She is a 2014 graduate of the EBV-F Program at Florida State University. Starting Point Human Capital Advisors LLC is a Dallas-based HR consultancy focused on helping companies recruit and retain employees, ultimately improving long-term employment outcomes for veterans and underserved populations. The company targets two distinct audiences: small businesses with no HR department and military friendly employers of any size.

Best Social Venture: $10,000

Wayne Georgiana (Nashua, NH)- Lil’ Jake’s Indoor Safety Village & Playground, LLC


Most Innovative Venture: $10,000

Beulah Floyd (McDonough, GA) – BRF Mobile Lube Plus, LLC

Arthur H. and Mary E. Wilson Top Venture Impacting Veterans Award: $10,000
(sponsored by Disabled American Veteran’s (DAV))

Ryan & Traci Ottosen (Glendora, CA)- Ottosen & Co.

The three semifinalists who did not place in the aforementioned award categories each received $2,000 in seed funding from the EBV Foundation.

“Being a veteran and an entrepreneur myself, my goal in establishing the D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition was to help veteran entrepreneurs to help themselves by creating or growing a business,” stresses Daniel A. D’Aniello, co-founder and Chairman of the Carlyle Group. “The results of this year’s competition clearly reveal that the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs is already well on its way to success.”

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The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at



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