Kathryn Thomas and Matt Butler, graduates of Syracuse University’s Institute for Veteran and Military Families ARSENAL entrepreneurship programs were recently featured on Lifetime Network’s Military Makeover. Hosted by U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps veteran and well-known talk show host, Montel Williams, Military Makeover showcases veterans post-service lives by profiling their businesses and providing home renovations to transform the homes and lives of military families across the country.
“We are excited and proud of our graduates featured on this national stage,” says Misty Stutsman, director of the ARSENAL entrepreneurship and small business portfolio at IVMF. “Matt and Kathryn both exemplify the determination, discipline and ambition characteristic of veteran entrepreneurs. We are honored to be part of their business journeys.”
Butler, a U.S. Air Force veteran, is the inventor of Rollors, an outdoor yard game he conceptualized during his downtime between deployments overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) program, participated in the IVMF’s Acceleration challenge and attended IVMF’s Veteran EDG, a four-day conference dedicated solely to veteran and military spouse business owners and the ecosystem that supports them.
Now an award-winning game sold broadly at retailers including Walmart and Amazon, Butler’s business has grown thanks in part to his commitment to hiring veterans in manufacturing positions. Today, Butler consults with other veterans interested in business ownership and innovation.
“IVMF and its programs really helped put my business on the path to success,” says Butler. “To join together with another grad and have our businesses as well as the IVMF’s services featured to a large audience was really special. I hope this broadcast inspires others military veterans considering business ownership to pursue their dream.”
Thomas, a U.S. Navy veteran, is the founder and executive director for Yoga 4 Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans, incarcerated individuals, vulnerable youth, and those dealing with substance abuse through yoga. After being medically separated from the U.S. Navy, Thomas studied to become a yoga teacher and opened Yoga 4 Change to help create positive emotional and physical change for communities who needed it.
She took part in the IVMF’s SmallBizChallenge and was awarded money to help fund new trauma-informed yoga classes that have helped close to 200 veterans to date.
“As a veteran entrepreneur, programs like IVMF’s are invaluable. I learned how to speak succinctly about what we as an organization are doing in the community and the program empowered me to be more confident in my idea and goals for the future,” says Thomas.
IVMF’s ARSENAL portfolio leverages the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management for veterans and transitioning service members and has trained over 70,000 entrepreneurs to date. Through these programs, veterans and their families can learn information and skills necessary to start businesses and manage them effectively.
The Military Makeover segment featuring Thomas and Butler premiered September 25 and will air again on Oct. 2 on Lifetime.