All About Us
Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Veterans Initiative was launched in 2013 as a part of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program in Orlando, FL. Soon the program grew and was renamed the Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative (VEI) and was co-founded by military veterans Rafael Caamaño and Ricardo Garcia, with the direction of military veteran Gordon Hogan. Inspired by firsthand military experience, the VEI Team recognized veterans were equipped with a powerful set of skills including leadership, attention to detail, teamwork, striving for excellence and completing the mission (all of which are outstanding attributes of successful entrepreneurs).
The VEI Team set out on a mission to help veterans realize and leverage those powerful skills in an entrepreneurial setting. The mission of VEI is to empower and support veteran entrepreneurs through business guidance, education and mentorship.
Since inception, VEI has helped over 300 veteran entrepreneurs in supporting the launch and growth of their businesses. Over 27 veteran-owned small businesses have engaged with the program creating over 500 jobs and over $82 Million in annual revenue. Some of these companies have had tremendous success and continue to thrive in the Central Florida region.
VEI strongly believes that by accomplishing our mission of empowering veteran entrepreneurs and creating an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation, we will enable veteran led companies to grow sustainably in the region. This will lead to sustainable job creation, revenue generation and a positive regional economic output. Additionally, veterans hire veterans, which will further empower transitioning military and veterans in the workforce.
In 2017, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative joined the Veterans Florida state-wide network, giving veterans another opportunity to access programs to help them launch and grow their businesses. Our partnership with Veterans Florida has enabled us to assist over 167 veterans throughout Central Florida via workshops, events and one-on-one coaching sessions. Additionally, we have graduated 60 veteran entrepreneurs from our advanced program enabling them to launch and grow their businesses.