Calling All Veteran Entrepreneurs: TechStars Patriot Boot Camp 2013 Is Almost Here!

May 2, 2013

 

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own company? You're not alone. As we've mentioned before, Veterans and service members are 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, according to a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy. But starting your own business can be an intimidating proposition, even if you've got a great idea and the chops to execute it. That's where TechStars comes in. 

 

TechStars is the #1 start-up accelerator in the world, and provides seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors who are vested in the success of your startup, as well as intense mentorship from hundreds of the best entrepreneurs in the world. TechStars has taken their passion to help the military community realize their business goals, and  created an amazing opportunity: TechStars Patriot Boot Camp, July 17-19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

 

Over the intense three-day Patriot Boot Camp, TechStars will educate and mentor a selected group of Veterans and Service Members on how to build successful technology companies.


Participation in the Patriot Boot Camp is a catalyst to kickstart a company, find cofounders, and advance as entrepreneurs through great mentoring. The best part: there is no cost for service members, Veterans, or military spouses to participate. TechStars is proving this great resource to the military community completely free of change! The only thing selectees have to pay for is their travel and accommodations in Washington, D.C.

 

This year's Boot Camp participants will experience: 

• Presentations by TechStars mentors, alumni, and technology industry leaders

• One-on-one mentoring from the TechStars’ team, alumni, and entrepreneurial leaders

• Interaction with other motivated entrepreneurs

• Education on the process to build a technology startup 

• Interaction with successful D.C. startups

• Access to startup community resources, and peer and mentor feedback

 

The mentors and speakers will be drawn from the rich pool of our mentors, alumni, and friends of the TechStars community. These are highly motivated individuals who are emotionally invested in supporting Veteran entrepreneurs.

 

Over the course of the three-day program, the presentations by TechStars mentors andone-on-one mentoring will guide you to solidify a business idea, focus on your fundraising pitch, improve your accelerator application, refine your product concept, and demonstrate progress as it relates to your entrepreneurial path. Each participant or group of participants will have the opportunity to share their progress with the Patriot Boot Camp cohort.

 

 


TechStars is now taking applications for 2013 Patriot Boot Camp, and all submissions received before May 15 will receive first priority, so get yours in ASAP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate National Military Appreciation Month with Great Military Discounts

May 1, 2013

It's finally here: National Military Appreciation Month has begun! Now in its 14th Year, National Military Appreciation Month is observed each May as a way to honor, remember, recognize, and appreciate all the U.S. Armed Forces. Designated by Congress in 1999, this month provides a period encompassing both the history and recognition of our armed services with an in-depth look at the diversity of its individuals and achievements. May is also American Military History Month, and an excellent time to learn more about our vast and honorable military history. These yearly occasion prompt Americans to educate each generation on the historical impact of our military through the participation of the community with those who serve encouraging patriotism and love for America. 

 

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, left, pins a Bronze Star onto U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Rupe during his visit to Lucius D. Clay Kaserne, formerly Wiesbaden Army Airfield, in Wiesbaden, Germany, April 30, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Dee Crawford

 

This month hosts a bevy of special days to commemorate: 

  • • May 1: Loyalty Day
  • • May 8: V.E. Day
  • • May 10: Military Spouse’s Day
  • • May 12: Mother’s Day (while not technically a military holiday, pretty much everyone in the military community either has a mom, is a mom, or knows a mom to send some love to this day!)
  • • May 14: Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
  • • May 15: Honored Memorial Day
  • • May 18: Armed Forces Day
  • • May 22: National Maritime Day
  • • May 27: Celebrated Memorial Day

 

One of the best things about Military Appreciation Month is that it serves as a reminder to businesses to demonstrate their gratitude for our servicemen and women, Veterans, and their families with great military discounts

 

We here at TroopSwap want to help you celebrate with awesome military discounts all month long.

 

Here are a few to get you started: 

 

Overstock.com:  As a special thank you to those who serve, Overstock.com is offering free Club O Memberships to active duty, veteran, retired, and reserve military personnel through Troop ID (a $19.95 value). This offer gets you free shipping and 5% back on every order. 

 

Regal Entertainment Movie Tickets: Regal Entertainment Group is proud to offer a great benefit exclusively to the military community: $7.50 for a Premiere Super Saver eTicket, honored at all Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres, and Edwards Theatres nationwide!

 

Personalized Photo Canvases:   Save up to 67% on beautiful canvas wrapped photographs from Easy Canvas Prints™.

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Military Discounts!

May 1, 2013

Cinco de Mayo is coming up this weekend and it's the perfect time to kick back and celebrate the summer with a frosty margarita and a plate of delicious tacos—all at a military discount of course! 

 

This fifth of May holiday is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla,  where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla. In Mexico, this holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In the United States, originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. At TroopSwap, freedom and democracy are watchwords close to our hearts! Today, Cinco de Mayo marks a celebration of Mexican culture and history. 

 

We salute the many proud Mexican Americans who serve in the United States Armed Forces. According to Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen, a Department of Defense spokesman, Hispanics currently comprise 11.4 percent of the active-duty military forces (more than 157,000 people). While not all of those Hispanic servicemen and women are Mexican, each one deserves our gratitude and respect.

 

On this Cinco de Mayo, raise a toast to freedom, democracy, and the great cultural melting pot of Los Estatos Unidos! 

 

Here are some great Military Discounts to get the party started: 

• Washington, D.C. - 

★ Pita Tortilla:  20% Off Any Order: Pita Tortilla is fast and delicious food that will not hurt my budget or my waistline. The shawarma is amazing!

★ Chevys Fresh Mex: $5 Off All Orders $20+: Chevys has the best Tex-Mex outside of Texas...the food and atmosphere always make us say Olay! 

★ Red Hot & Blue: 20% Off Orders of $25 or More: While BBQ is not necessarily Mexican, Red Hot & Blue serves up tasty Baja Chicken Enchilada Soup and great Solid Gold Margaritas!

• San Diego, CA - 

★ Cafe Coyote: 10% Off Food and Beverage: Located in the heart of Old Town San Diego’s Historic Walking District, Cafe Coyote has served up authentic, freshly made Mexican fare for more than 20 years. 

 

 

Top 5 Best Theme Park Military Discounts

April 29, 2013

Summer getaways are the perfect time to bring your family close together, relax on leave time, and create memories that will last a lifetime. One of the best ways to kick back is a visit to an awesome theme park. Adventure parks around the country are currently offering some of the absolute best military discounts to help you make the most of your precious leave time. Here are the five best theme park military discounts to take advantage of:

1) SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens®, Adventure Island®, Water Country USA®, or Sesame Place® 

This team of theme parks offers one of the best military discounts we've found.  They are proud to salute the men and women of our armed forces and their families with FREE admission! Throughout 2013, any active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman is entitled to a free one time admission at either SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens®, Adventure Island®, Water Country USA®, or Sesame Place®—and they can bring as many as three direct dependents.  Yes, you read that right: FREE one-day admission for 4 people! 

You'll need to go through a registration process and get a voucher to present for the free tickets, but it's not too arduous: http://www.herosalute.com/cavatx/index.html

2) Walt Disney World, FL

Walt Disney World Resort is saluting U.S. military personnel by offering 4-Day Military Promotional Park Hopper Tickets for just $156 each plus tax. Normal price for a 4-Day Park Hopper Ticket is $256 + $57 Park Hopper Option for a total of $313 each. The military discount gets a savings of more than $150 per person! 

For just $28+tax more, you can add the Water Park Fun & More option and get 4 additional days at Disney water parks, DisneyQuest, mini golf, or a 9 hole walking golf course (regular price is $57+tax). 

Tickets are valid through September 28, 2013, with one Black Out date on July 4 at the Magic Kingdom® Park. 

This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard with a valid military ID. 

The deals don’t stop at park tickets. Disney has discounted rooms at all of its hotels up to 40% with valid military ID at check-in. To check hotel offer availability and make room reservations, military personnel may call (407) 939-7830. 

One important note is that the Park Hopper tickets are available at participating U.S. military base ticket offices —possibly at an even bigger discount! So make sure to check your base in advance just in case. 

 

3) Universal Studios 

Universal Studios has two great military offers:

1) FREE 3-Day Military Salute Pass for  Active Duty (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reservists) or Retired Military service members with valid military photo. These tickets are limited to 1 per person. 

2) FREE 1-Day Pass with the purchase of a 2-Day Pass valid for purchase by ALL Military personnel, Installation  employees, family & friends or anyone with Military Installation photo ID access. You can purchase up to 6 of these promotional tickets. 

To receive these offers you must: 

• Visit a participating military base ticket office (ITT/LTS) or the Shades of Green Resort in Orlando by May 15, 2013, to obtain your free ticket. Tickets must be used by June 30, 2013.
• Complete an Acknowledgement Form and sign your name on the free ticket.
• Once at Universal Orlando® Resort, present your free ticket and valid military photo ID to activate your free ticket, then proceed to turnstile for admission to either of the 
theme parks:  Universal Studios Florida® and/or Universal’s Islands of Adventure®. Ticket must be used on the same day of activation.

 

4) Dollywood

Dollywood has always been proud to assist military families. During times of war, Dollywood is pleased to offer a 30% discount on one-day admission tickets for active or retired military, disabled veterans, and military reservists, spouses, and dependents when valid military personnel IDs and dependent IDs are presented. The nice thing about this discount is that the whole family can take advantage as long as the military ID holder is present.

 

 

5) LEGOLAND

 LEGOLAND® Florida salutes the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces with a free one-time single day admission to LEGOLAND Florida, and discounted admission for anyone accompanying them to the park, throughout 2013 and seasonally at the LEGOLAND Water Park. All active duty military personnel including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists are eligible.  The tricky thing about this discount is that while the active duty military member can get his or her free ticket right at the LEGOLAND gate, any friends and family must purchase their discounted tickets in advance at participating military base ticket offices.  

....And Six Flags 

Most military bases offer discounted admission tickets at their MWR/ITR offices, but Six Flags does not have any information as to how large the discount is and who is eligible. There is no military discount at the park ticket offices, which is pretty disappointing. 

 

 

Why Military Discounts May Be Even More Important Next Year: 2014 DoD Budget Explained

April 20, 2013

Last week, the Department of Defense issued their 2014 budget. One of the biggest changes is the proposal to raise the fees military retirees pay for their health care and a historically low 1% pay increase.  

 

Speaking to reporters last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said this is a necessary step to keep costs in check: "The current fiscal environment has demanded that we take another look at personnel costs, which represent roughly one-third of the 2014 budget request," he said. "We're seeking additional changes to the TRICARE program to bring the beneficiaries' cost share closer to the levels originally envisioned when the program was originally created. Altogether, these personnel savings, which have the strong support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will save about $1.4 billion in 2014 and $12.8 billion over the next five years."

But Steve Strobridge, the director of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America, disagrees, noting: "When someone gives me that argument, I ask, 'If the military deal is so great, are you willing to pay what they did to earn it? Would you sign up to spend the next 20 years being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever the next fight is?' That's when people realize military people already pay far steeper premiums than any civilian. Most of it paid in-kind, not in cash."

 

Also included in those savings figures is a pared-back military pay increase: uniformed troops would get a 1 percent raise next year rather than the 1.8 percent that would be needed to keep up with projected private sector wage inflation. The 1% increase is the lowest in history. 

 

Between the raise in health care costs and the 1% increase in salary, military discounts will become even more important to the community. Not only do military discounts help families keep finances stable in tight times, they help to show those men and women who have served our country that businesses care about their sacrifices and want to give back. At TroopSwap, we are committed to keeping the great deals and discounts coming in 2014! 

 

Our Lead Designer, Kat Hopkins, put together this awesome inforgraphic to help make sense of the DoD budget. What do you think about these changes? 

Veterans and Military Spouses: The Perfect Team to Bring you Military Discounts

April 15, 2013

Recently, TroopSwap joined the National Chamber Foundation and Capital One in stepping up and pledging to hire America’s veterans and military spouses. This program is called Hiring Our Heroes and it's not just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do! Veterans have battle-tested skills that are invaluable in the civilian workplace. 

 

According to the Wall Street Journal"Veterans make exceptional employees in any organization because in serving their country they have acquired invaluable skills, including:

 

• Decision-making skills primed by quick, clear thinking.

 

• Proven leadership skills, honed in the most challenging operational environments.

 

• The knowledge and experience needed to be sophisticated team-builders and natural team-players.

 

• A work ethic that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to excellence.

 

Our veterans are remarkable men and women, and we thank them and their families for their service and sacrifice, as we do those currently serving.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama told employers last March at the Business Roundtable Conference Center that military spouses make good employees because they know how to develop and execute complex plans, and they're at their best when faced with high-pressure situations.

 


In her remarks, the First Lady continued her call on the private sector to hire veterans and military spouses as part of the Joining Forces initiative she co-sponsors with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. TroopSwap is a proud parter of Joining Forces, and are proud of the mlitary spouses on our team.

 

Veterans and military spouses bring a positive, mission-first, no-fail, no-quit attitude to any organization they join, and at at TroopSwap where Veterans and military spouses make up the vast majority of employees, they are invaluable. Who better to source military discounts for our community than military spouses and Veterans themselves? We think these forces-for-good are the perfect addtion to any team, but we are especially proud to have them here at TroopSwap!

Military Discount on Sunglasses and Glasses

April 12, 2013

Just in time for summer, get some new designer shades for 70% off with a great military discount

 

GlassesUSA is offering a special Thank You to the military community with 70% off your first pair of glasses —including designer sunglasses, plus free shipping on all orders over $80!

 

Shades have been an important part of the military look since Tom Cruise imortalized the aviators in the 1986 movie Top Gun as Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, wearing the Ray-Ban 3025 (also known as the Ray-Ban Aviator) sunglasses. GlassesUSA has a large selection of stylish aviators to start your summer off right. 

 

Must use this exclusive TroopSwap link!

Military Discounts for Man's Best Friend

April 11, 2013

Recently, we posted a story on our Facebook page about The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act, introducted to Congress last fall by Representative Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC) in the House and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate. This original legistlation proposed reclassifying military dogs as “canine members of the armed forces.” The bill also simplified the adoption process for retired military dogs, and directed the military to set up a program for retired dogs' veterinary care, at no cost to the taxpayer. Additionally, it allowed for the secretary of defense to recognize military dogs killed in action or for performing courageous acts of service in the line of duty.

 

But when the legislation was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2013 in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, everything had passed except the reclassification portion of statute. Dogs are still considered equipment.  Due to political snafus, the bill’s title was changed to “"Military Working Dog Matters" Section 371 and their reclassification was deleted to keep them in the “military equipment” category. You can check out the full text of the bill here.

All military working dogs of the U.S. Department of Defense undergo rigorous training at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland in San Antonio, Texas. It takes 120 days for them to complete basic training to patrol and detect explosives and narcotics. They are predominantly German shepherd and Belgian Malinois breeds.


“The German shepherd and Belgian Malinois have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition,” according to a fact sheet from the Air Force 341st Training Squadron, which operates the Military Working Dog Program at Lackland.

 

Dogs can run twice as fast as humans. But it is the canine sense of smell that is truly astonishing. We can taste a teaspoon of sugar in a mug of coffee. A dog’s sense of smell is so acute that it can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, according to dog researcher Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College, part of Columbia University.

We here at TroopSwap fully support the reclassification of Military Working Dogs as members of the Armed Forces and not equiptment. Hopefully, future legistlation will make that happen. In the mean time, we are happy that these new laws are a step in the right direction and better provide for our four legged Veterans.

 

 

 

 

Check out these great military discounts for the

furry hero in your home:

 

National:

Blanket ID $5 Off any Blanket ID Pet Tag with Six Free Years of Protection Included

 

San Diego: 

Camp Bow Wow 10% Off All Services and Products 

 

Colorado Springs: 

Fountain Valley Animal Hospital 5% Off Services

Highland Springs Pet Services, LLC 10% Off Dog Training and Pet Sitting Services 

 

   Wilbur, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog with a Marine Special Operations Team, encounters a cow during a patrol with Afghan National Army Special Forces to escort an Afghan district governor to a school in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 15, 2013. Afghan National Security Forces took the lead in security operations to bring security and stability to Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/Released)

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate the Month of the Military Child with Military Discounts

April 9, 2013

To honor the unique sacrifices and contributions on behalf of our country, each April is designated the Month of the Military Child. Military children make up a very special part of the community. There are 1.8 million children of military familes in the United States. These brave sons and daughters support military parents through deployments, PCS moves, and the challenges of continuing uncertainty. By setting aside April as the Month of the Military Child, the U.S. Department of Defense sheds a light on the  needs of our youngest heroes. 

 

Here are some resources to help you celebrate the Month of the Military Child: 

 

Military Kids Connect 30 Days of Fun - This online community of military children (ages 6-17 yr old) provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children from pre-deployment, through a parent's or caregiver's return. Featuring a wide selection of games and activities, the April celebration gives you and your kids an opportunity to spend hours playing, bonding and having fun — together.

 

Art From the Heart - Compiled by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), Art from the Heart allows us a glimpse into the world of military children as seen through their eyes. The exhibit reflects the works of military children -- nearly 50 in all -- from elementary to high school. The exhibit also will travel to the home of Vice President Joe Biden as part of Joining Forces, an effort to garner public support for service members, veterans and their families spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and the vice president’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden. From there, the exhibit is expected to be on display April 9 at the Department of Defense Education Activity’s headquarters at the Mark Center in Alexandria, Va.

 

Month of the Military Child Online - Designed to provide reflection, a sharing of stories and to recognize the contributions and personal sacrifices that the military child makes, this site hosts event and project ideas based on the age of the child.

 

....And Some Military Discounts Just for Kids! 

• Hampton Roads 

Mercersburg Academy Summer Programs: Give your kids a world-class summer camp experience for over 50% off 

• Washington, D.C. 

The Washington Nationals:  Ignite your Natitude and save up to 42% on tickets to select Washington Nationals games through May.

• Colorado Springs: 

Colorado Springs House of Bounce:  With more than 5,600 square feet of inflatable fun, your kids will jump with joy for half off! 

• Nationwide

Regal Entertainment Group $7.50 Tickets: Check out The Croods, Oz The Great and Powerful with the little ones or G.I. Joe: Retaliation with teens at a great price. 

 

Q&A With Semper Sarah Plus a Military Discount!

April 2, 2013

What is it about taking orders from someone else that makes you want to be your own boss? Whatever the reasons, Veteran across the country are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, according to a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy. Nearly one in 10 small businesses are veteran-owned, for a grand total of 2.4 million businesses that generate a whopping $1.2 trillion in receipts and employ nearly 5.8 million people according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Here at TroopSwap, our founders are former Army Rangers who are passionate about helping the military community by providing access to special benefits and military discounts. We learned of another Veteran who has transformed her passion for helping people into a thriving business: Sarah Plummer, a.k.a. Semper Sarah. We sat down with Sarah to learn about her transition from U.S. Marine to business owner. 

Q: What led you to start your own business? 

A: Identifying a need - I did not see anyone addressing the aftermath of trauma and stress on a truly holistic level, on a large scale.  Due to my personal experiences and my desire to continue to serve after leaving the military, I was passionate about creating something to help people in a sustainable, significant way. 

Q: You left a prestigious job to strike out on your own path - was that a scary transition? 

A: Yes.  As I've often said in the yoga classes I teach, transitions are where most injuries occur, so that is where we need to be the most gentle, careful, and mindful with ourselves.  The same holds true in life. It was a scary transition, but one I undertook with a deep sense of purpose which compelled me forward during the tough times.

Q: What was the hardest part of building your company?

A: Initially, simply taking that first leap of faith.  With action comes clarity, and so although I did a lot of research and planning before launching Semper Sarah™ LLC in March 2012, I was never going to have it all "figured out."  So now patience and trust are key and often the hardest parts of building a business. I recognize that each day brings more and more refinement to the business and I must be patient, allowing it to grow organically.   

Q: Do you think your Marine Corps training and experience prepared you to begin your own company? Do you think your service gave you an edge? 

A: Absolutely! I have learned how to translate the skills that served me well in the Marines to what I do now.  Motivation, perseverance, and resiliency (which just so happen to be three elements of my SEMPER Philosophy™  are the top three personal traits that empower me professionally, as well.

Q: What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?

A: Just Roll With It! :)  In all seriousness, there really does have to be an element of going with the flow with your business.  You can never control for everything and you can't do it ALL all right now.  I work long hours and invest a lot in what I do, yet my mantra this year has been, "Force less. Flow more." It seems to be working. :)

Q: Entrepreneurs are known to work crazy schedules. Do you believe that work-life balance exists? What does your balance look like?

A: I believe a work-life rhythm exists.  I strive for balance, but even that word connotes a sense of perfection when the reality is that our business and personal lives have an ebb and flow we have to go with.  I adjust my boundaries week by week, and always make sure to schedule time for my own health and well-being.  I have to walk my talk about wellness or else I would be an inauthentic leader in the field. Too many entrepreneurs drive themselves into the ground, burn out, and then are no good to anyone; where, then, is the "service" in that? 

Q: What are your long-range goals for Just Roll With It™? 

A: To build it into a seminar series that can be authentically replicated.  I am only one person and my guest expert speakers, too, can only be in one place at one time.  Although we are bringing the seminar to at least 4 major cities this year, as the JRWI "Bootcamp" expands, my hope is that we can train others to carry the torch, as well, and bring holistic health and lasting wellness to our military members, veterans, and their families, friends, and communities.  Ultimately, we want to propel a positive ripple effect forward that reaches beyond the veteran brotherhood and sisterhood.  

 
 
 

Sarah Plummer, the founder of www.SemperSarah.com, is a University of Virginia graduate, former Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, and Military Olympic Athlete. Sarah's mission is to empower those who have experienced trauma or difficult life events to "just roll with it." Through her expertise as a registered yoga instructor, certified holistic health coach, and battle-tested leader, Sarah powerfully inspires, instructs, and equips audiences to roll with any challenge life throws at them. Sarah's message is one of hope; she encourages her audiences to see obstacles as opportunities at Just Roll With It™ Bootcamps. 

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