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Operation Vetrepreneurship: Tracking Aspirations, Barriers, and New Ventures

As one of the largest qualitative research efforts on veteran entrepreneurship, this study explores the entrepreneurship experience of veterans and military connected persons in select cities across the United States and is designed to better understand the entrepreneurial motivations, challenges, barriers, successes, and resource needs of veterans and military-connected entrepreneurs.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, along with the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship and its founding partner, First Data, is working to unlock key knowledge gaps in veteran entrepreneurship. As one of the largest qualitative research efforts on veteran entrepreneurship, to date, and with the help and support of Bunker Labs, researchers from IVMF are traveling around the U.S. (to Bunker Labs facilities) talking with veteran and military-connected persons, to learn more about their entrepreneurship experience. Bunker Labs, now located in 12 cities across the country, is an organization built by military veteran entrepreneurs to help other veterans start and grow businesses.

Through focus groups, the IVMF gathers in-depth information on the motivations, challenges, and successes of veteran entrepreneurs. The study also provides current and aspiring veteran entrepreneurs access to information and resources designed to help them start their businesses. This research is also intended to inform the public and private sectors on policies, programs, and related initiatives aimed at promoting successful veteran business ownership.

As indicated in our literature review, the research on the entrepreneurship experiences of veterans is limited and outdated, with some research being more than 20 years old. However, the little data that is available on veteran business ownership show that the landscape of veteran entrepreneurship is changing. For example, more women and racial minority veterans are pursuing entrepreneurial activities while, at the same time, veteran entrepreneurship, overall, is showing recent signs of potential decline. Through semi-structured focus groups and a brief, 10-minute survey, this research effort brings to the forefront a rich examination of the motivations, challenges, and successes of veteran entrepreneurs.

Research Project Description
The research study consists of focus groups and a short survey. Researchers from IVMF are traveling around the U.S. talking with veteran and military-connected persons, to learn more about their entrepreneurship experience. In each city, a selected number of veteran and military connected entrepreneurs are invited to participate in a focus group. During the focus group, veteran and military connected entrepreneurs will be asked semi-structured questions centered on their motivations for becoming a business owner, challenges associated with business ownership, and successes that come with entrepreneurship. At the conclusion of the focus group, participants are invited to complete a 10-15-minute survey, designed to collect information about their military career, and their experiences as entrepreneurs.

Research Project Goals
As noted in the literature review, veteran entrepreneurs are an integral part of the U.S. economy. Recognizing their significant contribution, this research effort aims to better understand the needs of veteran-owned startups and established businesses. Through a better understanding of the needs of veteran entrepreneurs, recommendations can be provided to organizations supporting veteran entrepreneurs, thus providing veteran entrepreneurs tools and resources that support their success. The primary goals of this study include:

  • Identify the primary reasons veterans engage in entrepreneurial activity;
  • Identify challenges, obstacles, and successes associated with veteran entrepreneurship;
  • Provide a better understanding of the changing trends in veteran entrepreneurship;
  • Offer resources and tools that best support veteran entrepreneurs;
  • Provide organizations serving veteran entrepreneurs with information on some of the main challenges veteran entrepreneurs face.

Interested in Participating in the Study?
If you are a veteran or military connected entrepreneur and are interested in being part of this study, please click here.

About this Study
This research effort is made possible through generous financial support from the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship (CoE), First Data, and Lockheed Martin. Additionally, this research effort would not be possible without collaboration and support from several partners, including Bunker Labs and V-WISE.

The contents of this research effort are solely the responsibility of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect the official views of any of the supporting organizations.

IVMF Research Publications on Entrepreneurship
veteranentrepreneurshipThe State of Veteran Entrepreneurship Research: What We Know and Next Steps. This paper reviews the current state of research on veteran entrepreneurship, identifies critical gaps, and offers recommendations for future research. The full report can be downloaded here.