Program that turns veterans to entrepreneurs returns for fifth year

By Theresa Evans

John Langston (from left), John DeSeignora, Eric Myhre, Wynette Jackson, Jessica Hansen, Ken Mack and Greg Fontaine completed the nine-week Veterans Entrepreneurship Training program in 2017.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET) program is returning for its fifth year on campus.

The courses in the program allow veterans to develop business-related ideas and also help them understand and think critically about customers, product and service delivery, industry characteristics, sales forecasts and promotions and costs and finances, according to Ron Cook, associate dean for graduate programs.

“The program takes a veteran’s business idea and, through research and guidance, lets them explore whether the concept makes sense,” said Cook.

According to Cook, the program was designed to include “feedback loops” that are intended to provide students with consistent evaluations on their homework to influence the creation of their “feasibility plans.” The goal is for the veterans to improve decision-making regarding their “venture concept,” he said.

Vince Rinaldi, an alumnus of the VET program, believes the success of the program is due to the professors, volunteers and mentors that make themselves available, even after its over.

“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to participate in this program,” said Rinaldi. “I took a similar course at the Wharton School of Business and the team at Rider University has a better format, especially their follow-ups with the veterans who participated.”

Rinaldi recommends that veterans who are given the opportunity should take the program.

“It has given me the tools I needed to start and succeed in my new business venture,” said Rinaldi.

The program hosts about 12-15 veterans each session. This allows professors to give the students personal “one-on-one” experiences to help them manifest their goals.

“It can do a variety of things for the veterans. It helps them decide if they really want to be an entrepreneur, if their concept has merit — or if it needs to be tweaked — and/or how to operate their venture,” said Cook. “This is done through a systematic research process to build a feasibility plan.”

According to Cook, the program will newly be offered as a summer course, allowing veterans to earn three credits. “Subject matter experts” will still be available for the summer term alongside mentors who help the veterans meet their goals and pursue their “venture dreams.”

“We are delighted to help veterans pursue their venture dreams,” said Cook. “The N.J. Bankers Charitable Foundation and the Uncommon Individual Foundation share this desire and their support allows us to offer this program and all the extra mentors and industry guidance to the veterans.”

Rinaldi said, “At this time I believe this program at Rider University has everything a veteran needs to run his or her own business and succeed.”

















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