You should know about these veteran-owned businesses in America
This inspirational list of veteran-owned businesses contains some startups and well-known companies, including a brief history and some factoids for each one.
During this holiday season, make sure you support a veteran-owned business!
More articles for veteran entrepreneurs:
- Companies that donate to veteran-owned nonprofits
- Grants for veterans | a resource guide for veterans looking for business grants
- Best credit cards for military veterans
In 1971 Fred Smith, a young Marine veteran just two years removed from combat duty in Vietnam, set up a company that guaranteed overnight delivery of goods between several U.S. cities. The firm, then known as Federal Express, began operations in March 1973. The first night’s haul was seven packages. His network consisted of 11 cities.
The Top-Sider Sperry’s first shoe was invented in 1935 by Paul Sperry (He served as Office Aid for Information, Section 1, 3rd Naval District, USNRF, and was released from duty as Seaman, First Class), a sailor who slipped on the deck of his boat one night and fell overboard into Long Island Sound.
Once he pulled himself back on board and was safely back on land, Sperry began experimenting with ways to make a non-slip shoe. It turned out the answer lay with his cocker spaniel, Prince.
One cold day, inspired by Prince’s (his dogs) ability to run nimbly over a sheet of ice and snow without slipping, Sperry used a penknife to carve cuts into a rubber outsole that mimicked the grooves on his dog’s paws. It was the first step toward what became his patented “Razor Siping” sole.
The shoes proved to be so effective that in 1939 the U.S. Navy named them of the military branch’s official shoes, and they became the official footwear of the casual uniform of the United States Naval Academy.
In 2011, Kristina Guerrero (aka Turbo) was on a backcountry ski trip with her rescue pooch, Dunkan (on left), when she realized he was just as hungry as she was. She fed him some of her own food but worried it lacked the proper nutrition. The trip inspired her to create and develop TurboPUP ‘Complete K9 Meal Bars!’ A premium, lightweight compact meal on the go!
Today, TurboPUP is still a woman run, small company, with some giant friends. In 2015, Kristina partnered with Daymond John on the hit show Shark Tank, to scale the company (see video below). Kristina’s vision is for TurboPUP to manufacture canine edibles that embody health, nutrition, and premium quality. As a Veteran, Kristina donates five percent of TurbopUP’s profits to causes in support of our four-legged best friends and our country’s heroes.
A little about Kristina…
Kristina graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 2002. As a turbo distinguished graduate of US Air Force pilot training, she went on fly C-130 TurboPROPS. She is a decorated US Air Force Veteran, and a proud recipient of two Combat Air Medals for missions flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Horn of Africa.
With over 1000 hours of community service, she returned to school in 2009 to obtain a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, in pursuit of a life of service. Her life goal is to “be the change.” When she’s not nurturing TurboPUP, Kristina serves diverse populations as an occupational therapist or as a volunteer for Deschutes County Search and Rescue. She also loves to wander through the mountains with her TurboPUPs!
Black Rifle Coffee Company
Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran-owned coffee company serving premium coffee to people who love America. We develop our explosive roast profiles with the same mission focus we learned as military members serving this great country and are committed to supporting veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. With every purchase you make, we give back.
We import our high-quality coffee beans from Colombia and Brazil and roast them 5 days a week at our facilities in Manchester TN, and Salt Lake City, UT. The best way to enjoy our freedom-filled coffee is with the Black Rifle Coffee Club. When you join the club, your chosen brew is roasted, packaged, and shipped free to your door on your schedule. Not only do you save a trip to the store, but you also receive special discounted pricing on roasts and gain access to exclusive products, member-only content, partner discounts, and more.
Stubble & Stache
Nick Karnaze started stubble + ‘stache in 2012 with no formal business training. In 2014 I was fortunate to attend the Stanford Ignite – Post-9/11 Veterans program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Their stubble + ‘stache grew into the socially-minded organization that it is today. I highly recommend this program to any veteran with the entrepreneurial bug.
Reducing the stigma around mental health is a passion of mine. I’ve lost far too many Marines to suicide. Having suffered from depression myself, I’ve testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about mental health care access for veterans. It is important to realize that we are all fighting battles, and you shouldn’t fight yours alone.