July 18, 2021

This week’s one hour radio broadcast is pre-recorded.

Host Dale Throneberry introduces a guest host, Dr. Eric Fretz, and his entrepreneurial champion guests as follows:

  • Kristin Gapske, Director of Entrepreneurial Center at Washtenaw Community College
  • Matt Sherwood, VBOC for Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana
  • Julie Cowie, Michigan Veteran Entrepreneurs, Grand Valley State University
  • Michael Hyacinthe, Michigan Veteran Entrepreneurs, Grand Valley State University

Dr. Eric Fretz – Guest Host on Veterans Radio

Eric Fretz, PhD

From www.umich.edu

Eric Fretz is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a faculty lecturer who creates and delivers classes across campus (Psychology, Innovate Blue Entrepreneurship, School of Education, College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship). In addition to classes from the 100 to 600 level, he also delivers academic readiness classes for Student Veterans at U-M and other institutions locally and nationwide.

Having spent nearly 20 years as an undergraduate and graduate student, almost all of it dealing with the learning sciences, and having run large schoolhouses and taught team skills for the Navy, his primary area of excellence is engaging students in dynamic learning situations where they apply what they are learning to real-world tasks. He has taught for University of Michigan since 2001 and is a certified Master Training Specialist and Golden Apple Nominee.

Retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years, he draws extensively on his experiences in leadership and team dynamics to frame discussions of individual characteristics/differences and how to build and sustain teams that perform at a high level. Three deployments to the Persian Gulf combat zone (from Gulf War 1 in the early 90’s to Baghdad in 2008 assigned to the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps) provide a rich source of lessons and stories about teamwork, management, and leadership.

Veterans Who Succeed in Business

Dr. Fretz succinctly states why veterans have proven to be excellent business owners and community leaders.

“Veterans are uniquely suited to the Entrepreneurial space. Military veterans tend to have been taught a high degree of self reliance. They are willing and able to suffer at a higher level and grind things out.” If their experience after the military is an employment position within an organization that has poor leadership, this motivates them to look into an option that enables them to be their own leader. “The way to never have a bad boss is to be the boss.”

Kristin Gapske, Director of the Washtenaw Community College Entrepreneurship Center, offers the observed increase in female entrepreneurs since the pandemic of 2019/2020. Their enrollment went from 55% to 65%. There are plenty of opportunities and special offerings for female business owners. And she adds – “Don’t forget it is open to military spouses!”

Matt Sherwood, VBOC for Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, puts the success rate for veterans entering a franchised model are 50% more successful than others.

Final Thoughts and Tips

Julie Cowie, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Veteran Entrepreneurship – The cohort model is exceptional in that it provides a common ground for ongoing support. Julie also recommends the Business Model Canvas for establishing the steps of launching and building a business.

Matt Sherwood, VBOC – Connect with veteran mentors. Utilize SCORE and SBA services. It is important to validate your business plan through market research (not by surveying your friends and family.)

Kristin Gapske, Washtenaw Community College, Entrepreneurship Center – There is a free resource for market research at their center. You do not need to be a WCC student. 

Michael Hyacinthe, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Veteran Entrepreneurship – Continue to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs.

Excellent Resources for Veterans and their Family Members!

Grand Valley State University – MVELAB

Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE-Lab) is a free 3-month entrepreneurship accelerator for veterans and/or military spouses.

It is designed to provide hands-on startup education for those seeking to add $10,000 or more annual income to their household through small business activity.  The program is cohort-based and meets on Monday nights for 12 weeks, 6p to 9p.

For More Information: www.gvsu.edu/mve 

The Entrepreneurship Center at Wastenaw Community College

Connect with us via phone at 734-249-5880, or through email at entrepreneurship@wccnet.edu; we are here for support and resources. For current business owners and future entrepreneurs, we offer one-on-one appointments via phone or video to assist you with your business questions and challenges. If you are interested in discussing your current questions, please submit a Business Assistance Request and we will be in touch!

For More Information – www.wccnet.edu/succeed/entrepreneurship-center/

VetBizCentral VBOC

Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) Across the United States

The “Boots To Business” program is held on active military bases as part of the Transition Assistance Program. This 2-day event introduces transitioning service members to the concept of entrepreneurship and understanding the skills and experience they gained in the military translates directly into successful small business ownership.

Breaking it down:

  • Pre-Business Plan Workshops
  • Concept Assessments
  • Business Plan Preparations
  • Comprehensive Feasibility Analysis
  • Entrepreneurial Training and Counseling
  • Mentorship
  • Other Related Services

For more information (MI, IN, OH): www.vetbizcentral.org

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