One great way to support veterans after they come home is to give them opportunities to pursue entrepreneurial enterprises. Many veterans are turning to this avenue for income and work, often utilizing skills developed while they were in service.
The following are just a few of the products created by veterans and active duty service members that are out there on the market:
1. Combat Flip Flops: Flip flops, clothing and accessories.
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With the tagline ‘Bad for running, worse for fighting,’ Army Rangers Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee appeared on “Shark Tank” and explained their ‘business, not bullets’ philosophy. Their website gives one example of this:
Our Cover and Concealment sarongs are handmade in Afghanistan by local women. Each one takes three days to make, and each sale puts an Afghan girl into secondary school for a week.
They got an investment from three sharks, Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Lori Greiner. Their “Shark Tank” appearance garnered enough sales to bring their impact up to 60.20 years of secondary school for Afghan women and 1,533 square meters cleared of land mines.
2. BearTek Gloves: BlueTooth Smartgloves that remotely control your phone or GoPro.
You won't believe how innovative this glove is!
Posted by Shark Tank on Friday, February 5, 2016
Giving examples of motorcycle riding and skiing, Second cousins Willie Blount (Marine veteran) and Tarik Rogers appeared on “Shark Tank” to get an investment. They weren’t able to do so, but they stressed the safety aspects of using their gloves while on the go.
3. Turbopup: ‘Complete K9 meals on the go.’
Air Force veteran and recipient of two Combat Air Medals, Kristina Guerrero owns the company that makes the portable pup meals she created with her husband, a Dannon food scientist.
Containing 28 grams of protein, the ingredients were carefully chosen to ensure an easy transition on a dog’s stomach from bar to regular food. The company has generated more than $200,000 in sales since making a deal with Daymond John of “Shark Tank” less than a year ago.
4. Disgruntled Decks: Military-themed card game for veterans similar to Cards Against Humanity.
FROM THURSDAY: Picture the most profane, foul-mouthed, funniest grunt in your unit. This game is like 10 of those guys.
The game will be replicated for other branches of the military; also, Coble checked with a Cards Against Humanity representative to ensure there was no copyright infringement.
5. Bottle Breacher: Recycled .50 caliber ammunition turned into bottle openers.
— Bottle Breacher (@BottleBreacher) February 6, 2016
The company is owned by Navy SEAL Eli Crane and his wife Jenn, and the products are made by active duty service members and veterans.
Since appearing on “Shark Tank,” sales went from half a million dollars to $2.5 million in three months. The couple made a deal with sharks Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary and have since expanded their product line.
6. Man-Pack: Messenger bag for electronics and firearms.
Army veteran Aaron Tweedie created the Man-Pack to be “durable enough for a construction site, fashionable enough for regular use, yet wouldn’t attract derision for not being ‘manly’ enough,” writes the Shark Tank Blog.
7. The Natural Grip: Cotton reusable hand protectors (grips) for working out.
— The Natural Grip (@thenaturalgrip) February 2, 2016
Still on active duty, Capt. Drake’s sales have gone from approximately $10,000 a month to about $60,000 a month, after the initial “Shark Tank Effect” bump.
8. VetCrafters: Home decor items handmade by veterans.
Founded by Air Force veteran Sue Loomans, the company was inspired by a situation in which she decided to try to make something out of leftover materials from rehabbing a house rather than throw them out.
VetCrafters allows veterans to make a living doing something creative that they love that also reflects their service in the military. Not only are many of the materials salvaged from distressed homes, but “the majority of sale proceeds goes directly back to the veteran so that they can affordably participate and have a chance to grow.”
“Shark Tank,” Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans (EBV) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are just a few of the resources out there for veterans who wish to create a company, products and services.