Tips for Veterans Who Want to Be Franchise Owners

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Veteran Enterpreneurs

Veterans and service members are looking into ownership of franchises like never before.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly a quarter of all veterans are interested in starting their own businesses. Franchises are a very popular route to go for many of them. With the business framework already in place, opening a franchise is an easy way to enter the market.

Franchises are so popular that the International Franchise Association reported that 1 of every 7 franchises in America is owned by a veteran.

The number of veterans owning franchises may be so large because of all the help available to make business ownership possible. There are many tools veterans and their spouses can use to help make the decision to buy one of the numerous franchises.

Also hundreds of companies offer incentives for veterans to become a franchise owner. Here are a few things you need to consider if you are interested in franchises.

Veterans are buying into franchises at a record pace. Here are a few things to consider if you are interested in owning one.

Is buying into a franchise a good decision for my military family?

Many veterans and military spouses dream of owning their own business. “My husband wants to own a small bar when he retires. He has talked about it casually for years. I have always wanted to own a coffee shop. While we both dream of these things, I have to wonder if either of them will ever become a reality.”

Do you dream of owning a business? Would it be one of the thousands of franchises in America?

The first things you need to do when considering opening a business is to decide if owning a franchise is the right thing for you and your family.

Ask yourself the following four questions:

  1. Are you passionate about the industry you are considering?
  2. Is this merely a hobby you enjoy or will you actually like to take this on as a business?
  3. Is there room in the market for this business?
  4. Is this the right time in your life to open a business?

Think about your family’s circumstances, financial stability and viability of franchise ownership. If your family decides that owning one of the franchises available is the right move, then you need to look into how to choose one of the franchises.

How Do I Become a Franchisee?

Start your research with the U.S. Small Business Administration. They have a veterans business outreach center (VBOC) program. They offer services to help veterans with business training, counseling and referrals. This includes workshops on business development for issues such as being self-employed. There are business counselors available to help on a one-on-one instance as well.

The VBOC program also offers a feasibility analysis to help veterans determine if a business will be successful. They will review your business plan in doing so.

There are 8 things to do to own one of the franchises available in the United States. First, decide which type of franchise you would like to own. Next you should look to see what franchises are available in that industry. You will want to take into consideration the requirements to own a particular franchise in that segment. You should also research the market in the place you wish to open your business.

If all looks well, then you can send an inquiry to the franchise. You’ll need to fill out an application for the franchisor. They will want to see if you are a good candidate to own one of their franchises. When you get a reply, if it is positive you will need to think of the next steps. This will start with finances. You need to decide how you will fund purchasing a franchise.

What Incentives are Available to Veterans for Starting a Franchise?

Most businesses require a buy in and you might not have the startup money for it. Luckily, many businesses offer incentives and discounts for veterans to open one of their franchises.

There are 650 franchises listed with the International Franchise Association that offer these incentives and discounts for veterans and their spouses.

The Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, VetFran has helped 2,089 veterans become small-business owners with their financial incentives.

Politicians are getting into the spirit of veteran-owned businesses as well. The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act of 2017 was introduced at the beginning of the year. Its purpose is to provide entrepreneurship training to veterans and their spouses. The bill would amend the Small Business Act to include a female veteran’s business training program as well as one for disabled veterans. An outreach center will provide financial assistance including financial management, marketing advice, training and technical help.

Author
Kimber Green
Source: MilitaryShoppers.com

FedEx announced that Rumi Spice, a veteran-Owned business, is the grand prize winner of its sixth annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

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Rumi Spice

Rumi Spice Wins Grand Prize of $25,000, Plus $7,500 in FedEx Office Services

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FedEx recently announced  that Rumi Spice – a Chicago-based business that sources and brings to market premier saffron from the fields of Afghanistan – is the grand prize winner of its sixth annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Rumi Spice will receive a $25,000 grant, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office® print and business services to help them continue to grow their business both in the U.S. and internationally.

“We had many qualified entries into the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest this year, but Rumi Spice really embodied what we look for in a grand prize winner,” said Scott Harkins, senior vice president, Customer Channel Marketing at FedEx. “Not only did they see and pursue a viable business opportunity, but they have a demonstrated passion for connecting Afghanistan to the international marketplace. As a global company that connects people and possibilities around the world, FedEx appreciates this and we look forward to helping them take their business to the next level.”

The idea for Rumi Spice was born after co-founders Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller, all former Army officers who served in the military in Afghanistan, connected with international tax attorney Carol Wang of the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program. They all saw the need to provide alternatives to opium farming and felt the only way to a sustainable future was through economic empowerment of the Afghan people. Since 2014, when it was founded as part of a startup program at Harvard Business School where Kimberly and Emily were students, the company has been working with rural Afghan farmers to grow and harvest top-quality, sustainably-farmed saffron. More than 1,900 Afghan women then work to hand-process the saffron during the five-week harvest season each year. Finally, the saffron is shipped to Rumi Spice in Chicago where it is packaged and sent to Michelin star restaurants and consumers all over the U.S.

The Rumi team, which aims to bring people together through food, is committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering the Afghan economy by reinvesting in the local community, ultimately promoting peace and stability in this war-torn country.

“We are very excited to have been named the grand prize winner of the 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant contest,” said Kimberly Jung, CEO of Rumi Spice. “This grant will not only help us improve our supply chain logistics as we transport saffron out of Afghanistan, but it will help build a sustainable future for peace through the economic empowerment of rural farmers across the country.”

In addition to the grand prize, FedEx also awarded Drop Water of Menlo Park, Calif., $15,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office services.

The following eight businesses received $7,500 grants and $1,000 in FedEx Office services, as well:

“It’s an honor to award our print and business services to this year’s FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners,” said Tracy Brightman, senior vice president of Human Resources and Communications for FedEx Office. “While these entrepreneurs are a driving force in the success of our economy, they’re also giving back to their local communities and we’re proud to fuel their contributions.”

The 2018 contest garnered more than 7,800 entries from candidates across the United States and more than 660,000 votes. Since its launch in 2013, more than 21,000 small businesses have entered the contest in the United States alone. The contest has now grown from one country to eleven countries and the grant pool for the U.S. contest has grown from $50,000 to more than $120,000 in total prizes.

FedEx. Solutions that Matter.® Helping Small Businesses.

The FedEx portfolio of services allows small businesses to gain access to the global marketplace and to shipping, logistics and printing solutions. For more information on how FedEx helps small businesses, please visit the FedEx Small Business Center at fedex.com/smallbusiness.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $64 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 425,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. To learn more about how FedEx connects people and possibilities around the world, please visit about.fedex.com.

Ready for Take-Off: G-FORCE Launches National Veteran Franchise Initiative

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G-Force

BEDFORD, N.H. G-FORCE™, one of only two Veteran-focused franchise brands and the only one of its kind awarding franchises exclusively to Veterans, is ready for take-off. The New Hampshire-based concept, which provides expert parking lot striping and other pavement marking needs, seeks to provide business ownership opportunities to hundreds of military Veterans across the country with its one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity.

With one location already servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, G-FORCE™ hopes to open as many as 50 new units over the next 3-5 years. According to founder and CEO Jack Child, the expansion will be accomplished exclusively through franchising and will initially target various cities throughout California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Texas.

“We know the challenges many of our Veterans face when they return to civilian life and, while there are more resources and assistance programs than ever before to help, there’s always more that can and should be done,” said Child. “We want to do our part. We’ve created a one-of-a-kind, low cost franchise business opportunity just for Veterans.”

Child himself is a more than 10-year veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having spent three years in the enlisted ranks of the U.S. Army and seven years in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot. He also has seven years of experience in the pavement services and franchise industries.

With attention-grabbing, distinctive camouflage trucks and serviceG-Force trailers, state-of-the-art equipment and military-influenced logo and uniforms, G-FORCE™ has built its brand around today’s Veteran.

Founded in 2017, G-FORCE™ prides itself as the go-to resource for all things line striping and pavement marking – New Layout, Re-Stripe, ADA Compliance, Stencil Markings, Warehouse Flooring, Parking Structure Markings, Outdoor Basketball Courts, Athletic Field Markings and more. Other routine maintenance services G-FORCE™ franchisees may offer include: parking lot sign installation, sealcoating, crack sealing, hot and cold asphalt repairs, new paving, power washing and other property services.

“This is a stealth business that few know about, but one where the demand for our services is unquestionable,” said Child. “Look around. Parking lots are everywhere; strip malls, hospitals, office buildings, schools, municipal airports, town streets. They all require proper pavement markings by law. Somebody has to install them and somebody has to re-stripe them numerous times over.”

To augment the company’s growth, G-FORCE™ is seeking military Veterans, including active Guard or Reserve, interested in starting a business built on the values of integrity, reliability, respect, and precision, and one that ensures first class, military-style service. The franchise fee starts at just $5,000 and generally ranges between $7,500 and $15,000 depending upon territory size. The initial investment can start as low as $25,000.

G-Force“Veterans have the best leadership training in the world. In addition to coming from an integrity-focused background, they are mission-oriented and have a call to fulfill a higher purpose – all traits needed to run a successful business,” added Child. ‘With our low investment, G-FORCE™ is a more comfortable approach for Veterans to become entrepreneurs and answer the call.”

To date, G-FORCE™ has secured national corporate sponsorships for its Veteran initiative from GemSeal®, Sherwin-Williams®, Graco Industries® and The Pavement Stencil Company offering incentives such as a free traffic paint starter package and nationwide discount pricing for equipment and paints, over $7,000 in value, to each new G-FORCE™ franchisee.

To learn more on the G-FORCE™ franchise opportunity, please visit gogforce.com/parking-lot-striping-pavement-marking-franchise-opportunity/.

About G-FORCE

Founded in 2017 and franchising since 2018, G-FORCE™ is a franchise built by veterans for veterans that provides expert Parking Lot Striping, Pavement Marking, Sign Installation Services and more. Today, there is one location servicing various parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. For more information, visit gogforce.com.

Service Team of Professionals Franchise to Honor American Heroes with Initial Franchise Fee Giveaway for One U.S. Military Veteran

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STOPRestoration

Bloomington, IN. – Today, Service Team of Professionals, (STOP) pledged to honor those who have bravely served their country with a tribute unlike any before it. STOP, a leader in property restoration services, announced a heartfelt “thank you” to veterans in the form of an extraordinary initial franchise fee giveaway contest for one qualified U.S. military veteran.

After a review of all prospective veteran franchisee applications and essays, STOP will announce the potential winner on July 15, 2018. STOP will honor the selected winner by waiving the initial franchise fee, a $48,000 value, for a new STOP franchise. Winning veteran contestant must meet all of the franchise company’s standard franchisee qualifications. The contest is open to all retired service members, soon to retire, and honorably discharged veterans from any branch of the U.S. armed forces.

“It is very important for us to show our gratitude to those who have bravely served our country,” said Brian Clark, CEO of STOP. “We want to provide a path to franchise ownership for a veteran, and this franchise fee giveaway is just one way to go the extra mile to making business ownership obtainable for these brave men and women.”

STOP has long made it a priority to seek out high quality veteran candidates for its franchise opportunity. Men and women with military service often exemplify the very core values that STOP looks for in prospective franchisees, including commitment, teamwork, dedication, who value training and support and who are driven to succeed in their mission.

“The same qualities that allow someone to succeed as a member of our nation’s armed services often make them a perfect franchisee with STOP,” said Daren Clark, Director of Franchise Development. “We want to make sure that we’re attracting the best franchise candidates possible, especially veterans. We look forward to reading their stories and giving them the opportunity to open a STOP location in their local market.”

Starting April 15, 2018 with an entry deadline of June 15, 2018, STOP is inviting prospective franchisees to register on our website, submit an essay, submit a credit report, provide a personal Financial Statement as well as complete an assessment. The brief essay should focus on how an applicant’s background and career goals align with STOP’s mission and values and why they would like to become a member of the STOP franchise family.

A panel of judges from STOP will select the qualified veteran based on their contest applications, which includes the essay. Winning veteran contestant must meet all of the franchise company’s standard franchisee qualifications. Normally, STOP shows its ongoing commitment to veteran business ownership by offering a discount of $4,800 off the initial franchise fee for any military veteran seeking to open a STOP franchise. As a result, STOP proudly has 5 veteran owned franchises.

The announcement of the Veterans Initial Franchise Fee Giveaway comes as STOP is awarded Franchise Business Reviews Top 200 Award-Winning Franchise Opportunities for 2018. STOP was among 307 franchise brands, representing over 28,000 franchise owners, that participated in Franchise Business Review’s research. STOP franchisees were surveyed on 33 benchmark questions about their experience and satisfaction regarding critical areas of their franchise systems, including training & support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations, and financial opportunity. STOP’s level of satisfaction in areas which are crucial to the health of a franchise system, is why this recognition is such an honor. This achievement, in part, validates the relentless strength and integrity of the STOP brand.

To apply, veterans must visit www.stoprestorationfranchising.com/become-an-owner/ and submit the request for consideration. In the comments section please reference “Veterans Giveaway”. They will receive an email with contest rules and the required steps to complete their entry.

About Service Team of Professionals

Since 2008, Service Team of Professionals (STOP) has been helping clients transform disasters into peace of mind. We are the trusted name in restoration services with over four decades of experience. Our trained and incredibly supported franchise professionals understand how stressful water, smoke, fire, mold and bio/environmental damage can be. This is why we bring a depth in management and professionalism that makes the restoration process as easy as possible.

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Toymakerz Founder Goes Full Throttle with Tips for Turning Passion Into Profits

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David Ankin

Many experts say that your passion is something you would do for free because you love it so much. However, doing things for free doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

People still need to earn a salary so that they can meet their needs, and some of their wants. The good news is that we don’t have to choose between doing what we are passionate about and earning a paycheck. When done right, the two can come together so that people can earn a living from what they are passionate about.

“Being able to turn my passion for cars and building custom motorized toys into a profitable business has been life-changing for me,” says David Ankin, inventor and star of the hit show ToyMakerz. “Every day I get to do what I love and I get to make a good living doing it. Being able to share my passion and creativity with the world is an amazing feeling, and at the end of the day I know that it’s also giving me a paycheck. It’s a win-win situation that I wish for everyone.

Ankin’s passion is for creating custom street machines. His one-of-Toymakerza-kind toys are street cars and hot rods that can be used on racetracks and for pure fun. Through following his passion, he has helped other adults be able to relive their youth and have some fun. His machines are so popular that they are typically custom ordered or snatched up immediately when they become available, with many collectors making the purchase.

While many people would have doubted that Ankin could have made a good living from following his passion, he has become a shining example of doing just that. He has surpassed what most people would have thought was possible. Following his passion, he has been able to create a business, find his target market, and also have a hit television show that showcases what he’s doing.

Here are some of Ankin’s tips for turning passion into profits:

  • Have the right mindset. You have to believe in what you are doing and that you will be successful. Remove all doubt and maintain a positive attitude. Use the laws of attraction to help bring you the success you are after by following your passion. Remember, whether you think you can or you can’t, you are usually right. The right mindset will see you through the tough times and keep you pushing forward toward success.
  • Find your people. There are people out there who will love what you have to offer. These people are your tribe. You just need to find those people, as they are your target market. Determine the best way to reach those people. If there is something you are passionate about, there have to be many others out there who feel the same.
  • Refine your message. Most people who make a purchase do so because what they are buying is going to make a difference in their life. Whether that difference is fun, relaxation, a way to earn more money, they need to know what it will do for them. Work on what it is that what you will be offering will do for your tribe.
  • Surround yourself with the right team. Very few people can do everything on their own, turning their passion into profit all by themselves. It’s important to hire and outsource to the right people who can help bring what you have to offer to the market. Find those who believe in what you are doing and understand how to help make what you are doing more of a success.
  • Find routes to bring it to market. No matter what your passion may be, there is always a way to bring it to the market. This has become increasingly easier with the Internet and rise of apps. For example, Ankin wanted to give his viewers an interactive app to ride along with, so when you are part of the ToyMakerz nation you can interact with cast and upload pictures of your toys via their app.
  • Have a marketing and PR plan. Every business needs to get their information out there to the masses. Have a plan for getting the information about what you are offering to your target market. Whether this is through online or offline routes, nearly every business out there has to engage in marketing or public relations in order to be successful.
  • Immerse yourself in social media. Social media today is a game changer for a business as everyone is using some kind of social media, which means you need to be there to reach your audience. Get to know what social media platforms your target market uses and start engaging that audience. No matter what you are trying to sell it is important to embrace technology. The tools in today’s technology world can help you reach people, engage them, and give you a platform to help lead you toward success.
  • Give back. Find ways to give back to those in your community and in causes you care about. The more you help be the change, the better off everyone will be. You help yourself when you reach out to help others.

Dave Ankin“When you love what you do and you believe that there is a market for it, then there is a great chance you will have success at it,” added Ankin. “Those who choose not to give it a try are letting fear make their decision. You can never succeed that way. Sometimes you have to be willing to take the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

ToyMakerz was founded by David Ankin, who is a former stuntman who used to do stunts with motorcycles, racecars, and also at Universal Studios for their Batman and Water World shows. Watching his father use metal to build things when he was growing up inspired him to go on to do the same. Today, he has earned praise for the eccentric one-of-kind street machines that he’s built. There is nothing idle about his work. Ankin has surrounded himself with a top-notch team, starting with business partner David Young (veteran of U.S. Coast Guard). Young manages the business side of ToyMakerz and serves as its President and CFO.

ToyMakerz partnered with Source Digital to develop an app, which is helping fans connect with the show. Enhancing the viewer experience with new digital brand integrations, the ToyMakerz app lets fans connect with the cast, score exclusive deals on anything they see on the screen while they are watching the show live, and share pictures of their own rides!

The ToyMakerz TV show is currently re-airing episodes from season 2 On Demand on Velocity. ToyMakerz season one is also available on iTunes and Amazon. ToyMakerz is produced by Los Angeles based production company, Lucky13Cinematic. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: toymakerz.com.

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About ToyMakerz

ToyMakerz is a company that makes adult toys built for speed. Some of their creations can be seen on the ToyMakerz hit television show focusing on the life and creations of Dave Ankin, a former stuntman who now makes toys for big boys. The show features the one-of-a-kind street machines that he builds. ToyMakerz is currently being aired weekly on Velocity. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: toymakerz.com.

About Source Digital
Source Digital (www.sourcedigital.net) specializes in content monetization strategies letting viewers dive deeper into their favorite programs. Industry-leading experts developed the Source Digital platform, offering a data driven, cloud-based engagement platform connecting a new generation of content viewers. The platform allows content owners to design and fulfill personalization and monetization strategies against their broadcast or streamed programs directly connecting to viewers, allowing them to instantly access and discover related experiences from their favorite device – smart phone, tablet, computer and TV.

 

 

Toys R Us founder, World War II veteran, dies days after chain’s announced shutdown

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ToysRUS

Charles P. Lazarus, the World War II veteran who founded Toys R Us six decades ago and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana, died Thursday at age 94, a week after the chain announced it was going out of business.

Toys R Us confirmed Lazarus’ death in a statement.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus,” the company said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Lazarus, who stepped down as CEO of Toys R Us in 1994, transformed the toy industry with a business model that became one of the first retail category killers — big stores that are so devoted to one thing, and have such an impressive selection, that they drive smaller competitors out of business.

Continue on to the Chicago Tribune to read the complete article

Military Spouses on a Mission—Creating meaningful employment for those at home

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R.Riveter Handbag Owners

The company R.Riveter was born from a patriotic mission to combat the often invisible contributions American military spouses make in support of their service members.

Their sacrifice on center stage is one that takes both an economic and emotional toll on military families across the nation. As military families move on average, once every 2.9 years, it’s often difficult for them to find and keep meaningful employment. In fact, the unemployment rate among military spouses is 42 percent, despite the fact that 85 percent want or need to work.

In 2011, military spouses Cameron Cruse, pictured above right, and Lisa Bradley, pictured above left, decided to stop being part of the problem and create a solution. What started as a dream in a small attic with one sewing machine and a bit of canvas has turned into a national remote manufacturing network, helping to create income for more than 100 military families across the country.

“Military spouse unemployment is an incredibly important issue that must be addressed. Every military spouse can relate to our story. This transient life makes it so hard to find and hold onto meaningful employment, and that’s why we created R.Riveter. We knew we could create stability with a remote manufacturing network. Everyone told us our model was a terrible idea—but we made it work. And it’s thriving,” said Lisa Bradley, R.Riveter CEO and cofounder.

R.Riveter handbags are made from authentic military or military-inspired materials. From hand-stitched liners to hand-cut leather, each R.Riveter handbag is crafted with a thoughtful, genuine purpose. Military spouses across the country sew parts and pieces of each bag, and parts are sent to R.Riveter’s FabShop outside of Ft. Bragg for assembly. From evening clutches and functional crossbody bags to large totes appropriate for work or travel, R.Riveter crafts handbags for every occasion.

An American success story, Shark Tank winner, Inc. 500 nominee, and RRiveter-handbagshandbag company on a mission, R.Riveter is looking forward to continue to change the face of American manufacturing, helping military families along the way.

R.Riveter has been recognized for its success on a national level. After securing a deal of investment and partnership with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban in 2016, the company experienced year-over-year growth of 630 percent and $2.4 million in revenue. Most recently, Inc. ranked R.Riveter No. 298 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies, such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names, gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

Handbag-RRiveter“Making the Inc. 500 is an incredible milestone to celebrate. We’ve come so far since starting R.Riveter in 2011, but this is just the beginning. Our company has its sights set on a really big mission to combat military spouse unemployment, and we’ve only just begun,” said Cameron Cruse, R.Riveter cofounder.

  1. Riveter is a handbag company known nationwide for combating employment issues military spouses face while living a transient life. Cofounders Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley created a national remote manufacturing network to provide mobile, flexible income for spouses of America’s military members to earn regardless of where they live and how often they move. A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and a 2016 deal on ABC’s hit TV show, Shark Tank, launched R.Riveter into the national spotlight. The company now creates hundreds of handbags a week.

For more information, contact: R.Riveter, Lisa Zimmermann, (262) 227-4314

“America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities” Announced

LinkedIn

Today, OMNIKAL announced “America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities”,  known as the “Omni50.”

The Omni50 represent the top 50 U.S. organizations who are awarding the most business to the growing culturally diverse marketplace. These same organizations are also successfully appealing to the growing millennial generation, which, by 2020, will be the largest diverse market segment in America (a market segment that is forcing brands to evolve from minority/diversity paradigms to inclusion).

Apple Inc. was named the #1 Organization for Multicultural Business Opportunities in the United States. Other companies at the top of the winners list include: Walmart Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation,AT&T Inc., IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, Raytheon Company, Verizon, General Motors Company, Time Warner Inc., PepsiCo Inc., United Parcel Service, Cisco Systems, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Company, Altria Group and The Kroger Company.

Who are the Omni50?

The Omni50 represents the voice of OMNIKAL’s 2,100,000 members. The list is circulated by over 1000 organizations, which reaches millions of consumers every year. Since 1999, it has become a highly valued metric of excellence in reaching the diverse and inclusive majority marketplace.

The Omni50 Awards is the most recognized honor for diversity and inclusion in the country.  These award-winning companies truly differentiate themselves in the marketplace in a time when inclusion has become one of the most important goals of every organization. It is also at a time when public recognition is key to ongoing financial, ethical, social and cultural success.

“The inclusion practices of the “Omni50” Awardees have changed the course of our current economy and as a result, the world as we know it” said Kenton Clarke, CEO of OMNIKAL. “The changing multicultural and multi-generational landscape of our country has demanded this evolution. OMNIKAL is proud to have been a force in the business world for such positive change. Our mission and goal is to equalize, broaden and level the playing field for both brands and an increasingly varied vendor/supplier marketplace.”

Top Honors for Top Organizations Who Do the Right Thing

Most “top” lists honor companies for traditional economic growth, shareholder returns and similar metrics; however, the Omni50 awards are an indicator of which organizations provide the best business opportunities to the increasingly inclusive majority marketplace. This, in turn, influences more organizations, as they compete for market share in multicultural and multigenerational communities.

The Business Power of Inclusion

As the culturally diverse market gains more buying power, corporations have to focus their efforts on rebranding and reorganizing to avoid losing market share and to remain current and relevant.

The Omni50 list has therefore become the most critical guide for businesses as well as consumers. “As a business owner, I appreciate the business we receive from corporate buyers; and in turn, when I buy either personally or for my company, I am more likely to buy from the same companies that support my business or are supporting businesses like mine,” said Kathy Steele, principle of Red Caffeine headquartered in Elmhurst, Illinois.

About OMNIKAL

OMNIKAL was founded in 1999. Now the Nation’s largest inclusive business organization, OMNIKAL promotes entrepreneurship and the belief that entrepreneurs create real world solutions to today’s business and economic challenges. By fostering deeper and broader collaboration between business owners and entrepreneurial support organizations, the OMNIKAL network fuels healthier ecosystems through job creation, professional development and drives innovation resulting in strong economic growth.

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Click here to see the full list of companies

Former Navy SEAL teams up with former Under Armour execs to found new denim brand, Revtown

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Revtown

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Revtown, a new denim brand, today launched its first collection of hand-crafted, premium jeans at revtownusa.com. Revtown Jeans are built with DECADE DENIM™, the brand’s patented fabric that is infused with four-way, dynamic stretch, and constructed with the strongest fibers in apparel design today.

“We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Revtown,” said Henry Stafford, Founder and CEO of Revtown. “With Decade Denim, we’ve created a level comfort, fit and feel that hasn’t been experienced in a pair of jeans. And we’re proud to deliver our jeans directly to the consumer for less than half the price of a typical pair of designer jeans.”

This first Revtown collection is designed for men. A women’s collection is in design for next year.

Revtown was founded by a group with extensive experience in the apparel world. Stafford and Steve Battista, Revtown’s Chief Marketing Officer, worked together for nearly a decade at Under Armour as leaders of product, and brand, respectively. Stafford was chief merchandising officer at American Eagle Outfitters before spending more than six years at Under Armour, overseeing product and all of the company’s North American business. Battista served as Under Armour’s head of brand and creative, among other leadership roles over 17 years.

The company’s founders also include Matthew Maasdam and Chris Lust. Maasdam, Revtown’s Chief Digital Officer, served 14 years as a Navy SEAL and later as the U.S. Navy’s aide to the President of the United States, before running e-commerce Operations for Under Armour. Chris Lust, founder and partner of Dock Street Capital Management and SLC Capital Management, will serve as Revtown’s CFO.

The Revtown product team boasts some of the top designers and engineers from the most innovative athletic apparel brands today, complemented by a denim manufacturing team that has made over 150 million pairs of jeans, with a combined 100 years of denim production experience.

Revtown Jeans come in two fits styles, SHARP and AUTOMATIC. Sharp jeans are fitted with a refined look, more dress than casual, yet with the flex of DECADE DENIM™. Automatic jeans are for “any guy, any time, any place.” Automatic jeans are designed to be mobile, not baggy, providing ultimate comfort without having to size up.

Revtown also offers Revtown Shirts, made from world-class Pima cotton. Revtown Shirts come in four essential styles, including Crew, V-Neck, Henley and Polo. Also available as Revtown launches are Revtown Crates, offering two pairs of jeans and any three shirts for just $210.

For your perfect pair of jeans, visit www.revtownusa.com.

About Revtown:
Launched in 2018, Revtown is a new denim brand delivering “Ridiculous Quality, & Unbelievable Fit for Half the Price.” The Brand’s signature fabric is DECADE DENIM™, constructed with a stretch yarn that provides all-over stretch and supreme comfort in a proper pair of jeans. Revtown’s headquarters are in Pittsburgh, Pa. – revtownusa.com.

Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

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Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.

 

Top Cities for Small Business Startups

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Top Cities for Startups

Veterans continue to do more than their fair share after leaving the military: At least one-in-four veterans in the workforce are running their own business, a rate that is 7.7 percentage points greater than the national average, according to the Census Bureau.

“Time and again, servicemen and women across the country have shared with us a main reason why they became entrepreneurs: Their experience in the military carried over into a career in which they control their own destiny, sometimes by equipping them with the technical skills needed in their second career, but always by ensuring that they had the ‘soft skills’ so critical to running a small business,” said Thumbtack Economist Lucas Puente, PhD.

Thumbtack is an online service that matches customers with local professionals.

“At Thumbtack, we celebrate the 2.5 million veterans who run their own small businesses in the U.S.,” continued Puente, “and encourage local governmental leadership to ensure veterans pursuing this path have the resources they need to succeed.”

As part of Thumbtack’s 2017 Small Business Friendliness Survey, 1,371 veteran-small-business-owners on Thumbtack were asked to evaluate their local governments’ support for businesses like theirs to determine the best communities for veterans to start, manage and grow a small business. Leadership by local governmental and political officials in the top cities are tasked with ensuring veteran entrepreneurs have the resources they need to succeed and don’t get stymied by the local regulatory or tax infrastructure.

The cities that made the top 5 list were—

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Houston, Texas
  3. Charlotte, North Carolina
  4. Fort Worth, Texas
  5. Los Angeles, California

The veterans interviewed for this study noted a military background alone isn’t sufficient to develop a thriving business; another factor they pointed to is a supportive community. While every business’ needs are different, the study indicates operating in a place where veteran-owned businesses are valued by clients, bankers, suppliers, and others can provide a leg up in the harrowing process of starting and growing a small business. These locations proved they do value their local veteran-owned businesses.

“Austin is a phenomenal place for a veteran to start a business,” said Thumbtack Pro Teri Young, owner of Teri Young Photography. “The community is rich with active and retired military personnel, as well as an abundance of supportive, patriotic civilians. With local programs like ‘Boots to Business’ and SCORE, the idea of becoming my own boss was a much clearer reality.”

Source: businesswire.com