Four Start-Ups Emerge From Tandon’s Veterans Entrepreneur Program

Greta Chevance
The second graduating class of the Veteran Entrepreneur Training program along with faculty members.

While many veterans have come to NYU to earn college degrees, they can now come to learn how to create their own startup. After more than a year from its inception, NYU Tandon’s Incubators and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Veteran Entrepreneur Training program recently saw its second class graduate, launching four new companies.

The program is a 10-week business course for veterans, and includes advisement and training from industry professionals. Participants receive feedback and constructive criticism from the VET administrators to help them better construct their entrepreneurial business plans.

The four companies that developed from this year’s VET program cohort are Citi Brew, Thermo Clear, Energy Economic Development and Aerie.

Steinhardt senior and President of NYU Military Alliance Nina Vizcarrondo was one of the participants of the VET program. She worked with three other members — Steinhardt junior Rishi Soneja, George West and Blair Johnson — to create their company Citi Brew, a subscription service for craft beer.

Vizcarrondo, who is also a market manager of GrowNYC, said she rarely saw local beers promoted at farmer’s markets, which inspired her team’s vision of Citi Brew.

“Why not incorporate and support local craft breweries of New York and bring them to the door of New Yorkers,” Vizcarrondo said. “There are more than 200 craft breweries in New York and out of many people surveyed, not many people can name more than five.”

Veteran Monique Porter is one of the founders of Thermo Clear, a startup that provides services to prevent snow damage on houses. Thermo Clear hires veterans, and Porter credits the success of the company with the support she received through VET.

Porter said that she was able to translate the idea of Thermo Clear into a real company through the constructive feedback and close advisement provided by the VET program.

“In just 10 weeks you go from having an idea to having the tools necessary to become an entrepreneur with an awesome support system and road map to succeed,” Porter said.

Porter said Thermo Clear was created by merging fellow veteran Carlos Cole’s vision of a defroster and Porter’s and VET program colleague Chi Kwok’s “product development research,” which concerned constructing the technology and applying for a patent.

“Our goal is to manufacture Thermo Clear in one of N.Y.’s hub zones and put some of the 900k veterans to work and maybe franchise,” Porter said.

Former infantryman and founder of Energy Economic Development James Hendon said that the VET program helped translate his entrepreneurial idea into a real business venture.

“The culmination of [the program] was our capstone presentation last month when we each presented our business idea to a group of stakeholders,” Hendon said.

Hendon said he wanted to create a company that combined his interest in economic development with his experience as a subcontractor in energy work.

Energy Economic Development works to help companies decrease their carbon footprint through renewable energy and energy-efficient initiatives.

“The mission is to advance America’s energy profile into the new millennium,” Hendon said. “It’s one thing if you have this great idea in your mind; it’s another thing when you speak to other people about it and they give you feedback and they force you to be very disciplined in how you analyze your ability to make it successful, to make it profitable, for it to work and achieve your grand mission.”

All four companies were offered office space for the next three months at NYU Tandon’s DUMBO incubator to help them transition out of the program. The program will relaunch this year to work with its third group of veterans.

Email Greta Chevance at [email protected]

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