All-American businesses: Rider’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Program

By Sarah F. Griffin

Rider’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is once again offering a “free, seven-week entrepreneurship program” to U.S. veterans and their children during the summer of 2023.

The program covers the basics of running a business, from the feasibility of an idea, to market research, market planning and getting operations running, and finally to going over how to keep a business profitable as it expands.

“The entrepreneurship program for veterans was essentially started by Dr. Ron Cook and the basic aim was ‘How can we help the community?’” program instructor professor Mayank Jaiswal said.

Jaiswal said the program, which is free for all applicants, provides a summer institute that looks at a veteran’s specialization in certain areas and teaches them how to turn that skill into a business.

Elaborating on the benefits of the program, Jaiswal said, “The idea was, ‘How can we expose the veterans to the aspects of running a business, so they can analyze a business idea from multiple perspectives?’ Maybe it’s a very good idea for helping the community or fulfilling a need, but financially, it’s not viable, so how do you assess these things— that was the primary motivation behind helping the vets.”

Jaiswal also explained the importance of setting veterans up for success upon their return from the service: “Veterans are really contributing to the country, be it in active service or being in the reserves, so when they come back, they should have viable alternatives to earn a nice wage, and entrepreneurship is one pathway to do that.”

Jaiswal felt confident that Rider’s program could stand up against similar programs at other schools.“Rutgers and a bunch of other schools have programs, but the problem is that everybody else is skipping steps and going to the next level,” which he then elaborated on by saying that Rider teaches veterans how to make a business plan and helps “fill the gap” between the skills they learned in the armed forces and the process of starting a business.  

Ronald Cook, professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and involved in the veterans program, explained the program’s importance. “Part of what we do in the Norm Brodsky College is taking the connection between the outside community to Rider, and this is an opportunity to take our expertise as business professors and try to benefit those who have given time and energy to serve our country. We’d like to give back and provide an opportunity to our service men and women.”

“We have lined up our resources here at Rider–the students have the opportunity to use some of our professional resources in the library, including the different databases, so they can make better decisions,” said Cook, “We also have a sponsorship from the Uncommon Individual Foundation, so the program is no cost to the veterans”.

Cook also expressed the program’s deep gratitude for the Uncommon Foundation, which provides students with the option to get additional mentoring in their business ventures.

“We believe in the hands-on connections and feedback the veterans are getting,” Cook said in response to the question of why the program is limited to 20 students.

Cook had hopes for the continued success of this program and the continued support of the university and collaboration with other veterans groups on campus: “Right now, I use the university marketing department to advertise the program. The university has been very supportive, and we use the Office of Veterans Affairs to help promote the program to their contacts.”

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