Since the 2022 Russian invasion, Ukraine’s veteran population has increased from roughly 500,000 to over 1.2 million and counting, yet the country’s ability to support its servicemembers has declined due to the war’s impact on the economy and infrastructure. Two…
Winners Announced in D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition
The D’Aniello Family Foundation and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) recently announced the winners of the D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition. Eight veterans and military spouses, who are established or aspiring entrepreneurs, were presented with a share of more than $110,000 in seed funding, thanks to the generosity of the D’Aniello Family Foundation, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the EBV Foundation.
The business plan competition occurred on the heels of the D’Aniello Family Foundation’s recent
$1 million gift to IVMF and Syracuse University. This funding will help the IVMF strengthen its programming and operations to better serve transitioning service members, veterans and their families all over the country.
“The D’Aniello Family Foundation continues to be a great supporter of Syracuse University, particularly our Institute for Veterans and Military Families,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “This new gift will create new opportunities for Syracuse to expand business and entrepreneurship opportunities for our nation’s veterans. Today’s news is another step in making Syracuse University the best place in America for veterans and their families.”
“We are grateful for this transformational gift and the commitment Dan D’Aniello (a 1968 alumnus of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, and a current member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees) is making to the IVMF,” says IVMF Executive Director and Syracuse University Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie. “Dan’s support of the University’s work in this area will have substantial impact on our collective efforts to advance the post-service lives of our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.”
The final judging and competition occurred during the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) National Training & Alumni Conference in Charlotte, NC this past weekend. The D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition was open to all graduates of the IVMF’s EBV and EBV-Families entrepreneurship training programs.
During the conference, 10 semifinalists each had the opportunity to present a 15-minute business plan pitch and engage in 10 minutes of Q&A with a panel of expert judges. The program culminated on Sunday, Feb. 7, when four finalists, presented a final 90-second pitch live to the entire EBV National Conference audience.
The following veterans and military spouses are this year’s D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition Award recipients:
First Place: $35,000
Warren Foster (Colorado Springs, Co.)—Science Playhouse
Foster is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer with over 30 years of experience in training, operations and management. He is a 2015 graduate of the EBV Program at UCLA. Science Playhouse is a hands-on science lab providing STEM education and enrichment programs for kids ages 6-12 in two large adjacent school districts in the North Colorado Springs area.
Second Place: $20,000
Paul Kilgore (Evans Mills, N.Y.)—WAORGANY Brewing, LLC
Kilgore is a retired U.S. Army Infantryman. He is a 2014 graduate of the EBV Program at Cornell University.
WAORGANY Brewing, LLC is a craft New York State Farm Brewery in the Jefferson County, North Country region of New York State. This is a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that will produce a large variety of fresh, high quality, hand crafted ales from locally sourced New York State ingredients, thus fostering the farm-to-glass concept, and making beers that are locally sourced, produced and sold.
Third Place: $15,000
Becky Watson (Norfolk, Va.)—Music for Wellness, LLC
Watson is a U.S. Navy veteran and a 2014 graduate of the EBV Program at Syracuse University.
Music for Wellness LLC is a small woman-owned disabled veteran business that is passionate about serving older adults with music. Its compassionate board-certified music therapists transform, energize and engage older adults with memory impairments through evidence-based music therapy programs that enhance their quality of life.
Fourth Place: $10,000
Denise Gee Uzzelle (Lancaster, Texas)—Starting Point Human Capital Advisors, LLC
Uzzelle is a military spouse; her husband is a retired U.S. Army IT Specialist. She is a 2014 graduate of the EBV-F Program at Florida State University. Starting Point Human Capital Advisors LLC is a Dallas-based HR consultancy focused on helping companies recruit and retain employees, ultimately improving long-term employment outcomes for veterans and underserved populations. The company targets two distinct audiences: small businesses with no HR department and military-friendly employers of any size.
Best Social Venture: $10,000
Wayne Georgiana (Nashua, N.H.)—Lil’ Jake’s Indoor Safety Village & Playground, LLC
Most Innovative Venture: $10,000
Beulah Floyd (McDonough, Ga.)—BRF Mobile Lube Plus, LLC
Arthur H. and Mary E. Wilson Top Venture Impacting Veterans Award: $10,000
(sponsored by Disabled American Veterans (DAV))
Ryan & Traci Ottosen (Glendora, Ca.)—Ottosen & Co.
The three semifinalists who did not place in the aforementioned award categories each received $2,000 in seed funding from the EBV Foundation.
“Being a veteran and an entrepreneur myself, my goal in establishing the D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition was to help veteran entrepreneurs to help themselves by creating or growing a business,” stresses Daniel A. D’Aniello, co-founder and chairman of the Carlyle Group. “The results of this year’s competition clearly reveal that the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs is already well on its way to success.”