V-WISE : Worthwhile and Special

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Meghan Florkowski

On a Monday afternoon when the phone rings with a prospective veteran or military spouse on the other end, curious about the V-WISE program and whether it’s the right fit, the first question is often, is V-WISE worthwhile for

me?

My response is less than simple – typically a series of questions to garner where they might be in their entrepreneurial journey. When we come to the end of this first conversation, more often than not, they are enthusiastically ready to get started. Another question that is often posed is what makes V-WISE special? I always feel at ease with my response here. In thinking about what to focus on with this article, I realized that the reason why some might use the word “special” to describe the program is the very same reason why prospective participants are eager when we finish our call and why we’re about to embark on our 10th program this summer with a full schedule of events on the horizon through 2016.

So what’s so “special” about the V-WISE program? I put the question out to our team of instructors and speakers to allow for you to hear from the folks who are committed to the success of our participants and understand truly how “special” they are. Through their words, I think you’ll be able to assess if V-WISE is the right fit for you and understand why we’ll do our very best to keep the V-WISE program going as long as it is needed. I also encourage you to read on through a few of the many testimonials that have come in over the life of the program.

In the words of V-WISE instructors and speakers:

Jessica Eaves Mathews, CEO and Founder of Leverage Legal Group and Untoxicating Beauty, V-WISE speaker – “I greatly enjoy and am so honored to teach at V-WISE because it gives me a chance to inspire, empower and educate the amazing women veterans of this country who have served to protect and defend our freedom and our democracy. They have helped ensure that our country remains a place where anyone can do anything with their lives, and can create financial freedom for themselves through entrepreneurship.

We have them (and all vets) to thank for their service and sacrifice, so it is such a great honor to get the chance to share my knowledge and expertise with them.” Thomas Kruczek, President of Notre

Dame College, V-WISE instructor – “I love teaching at V-WISE because the participants are so focused and driven and they understand fully the hard work that will be required to launch and grow their own business. The participants also come to the sessions with many of the skills necessary to succeed, thanks to their time in the military. And, I love working with the veterans and family members of V-WISE because so many of them are also trying to find ways to give back to their fellow vets or to other individuals or groups that are in need.”

Scott Nadzan, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, V-WISE instructor – “A V-WISE participant is a passionate and fledgling entrepreneur, preparing (not parading) to take the next step in their lives.”

Nell Merlino, Founder and President, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, V-WISE speaker – “A V-WISE participant is interested in serving her country and community. She has the focus and discipline to be successful. She is open to learning about new skills, opportunities and techniques to grow businesses. I have met women with category disrupting products who are changing their sectors.”

And in the words of our participants who expressedsimilar feelings for the program and their passionate instructors

and speakers:

Nichole Bluemle, CEO Back To The Box, LLC, V-WISE Denver 2013 – “I attended the Denver VWISE conference and found the education and motivation provided to be invaluable. I had bootstrapped to get my business started before the conference but was really lost in terms of marketing especially with regards to making the most of information technology and social media. Since the course I have been diligent in my social media campaign and using a blog and strategic online advertising which has boosted SEO so that potential customers become aware of our

existence.”

Stephanie Brown, Founder, The Rosie Network, V-WISE Denver 2014 – “With the sea of resources and programs available to veterans and their families, it is hard to identify those few that stand heads and shoulders above the crowd – this is one of those! From the material presented to the quality of the speakers, you leave this program with the knowledge that the VWISE team has done their homework and is 100% committed to your success. It goes without saying this is one of the best investments you’ll make in yourself and your business.”

Trisha Barrett, Candle Soap Bar, LLC, V-WISE San Diego 2012 – “V-WISE gave me the push that I needed at just the right time. It empowered me as a female and  gave me the confidence to kick start my company. I’ve never felt so empowered and proud to be a female business owner.”

Sandra Olgletree, Satani, Corporate Cycle Consulting, V-WISE Jacksonville 2013 – “Participating in this program allowed me to network with others and gave me the opportunity to think beyond the scope of limitations. Our company was selected as Small Business of the Year 2013 through the Charleston County Council Small Business Enterprises and was one of six finalist for 2013 Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. Going through this program allowed our organization to soar to new heights and we are still flying towards our next milestone.”

So simply put, what makes V-WISE worthwhile (“special”) is the female veterans and military spouses attending

nd a group of instructors and speakers who are committed to their success, in and beyond the classroom.

The V-WISE experience consists of three phases of training and ongoing support:

Phase 1:

This 15-day online learning experience is designed to teach participants the “language of business,” instruct students how to understand opportunity recognition as it relates to growing a sustainable

venture, and present actionable strategies related to new venture creation.

Phase 2:

The conference phase of the V-WISE experience is a three-day training offered to cohorts of 200 women at locations across the country. The conference includes more than 20 distinct modules of training, designed for both new business owners and to support the needs of existing ventures. Delegates are exposed to successful entrepreneurs, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and leaders in government. Upon completion of this phase, participants will receive 2.7 continuing education units from Syracuse University (documentation is required).

Phase 3:

Following the conference, graduates are connected to ongoing support and community-building opportunities focused on small business creation and growth. This resource network includes both SBA-provided supportive services, including Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), Veterans’ Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) offices, as well as services provided by the IVMF and other IVMF partners to include American Corporate Partners (ACP), BoeFly, and Kiva Zip.

PROGRAM METRICS &

OUTCOMES

As of January 2014, over 1,000 female veterans, transitioning female service members, and female military spouses have taken part in the V-WISE experience. Based on post-training assessments, the impact of the V-WISE experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Program assessment metrics include:

• 97% of program participants reported the V-WISE online courses to be useful and appropriate for their needs.

• 59% of V-WISE graduates have launched a new venture, or report a positive impact of the program related to growing an existing venture.

• 96% of program participants reported their overall experience at the V-WISE conference to be positively related to

their business needs.

• 95% of program participants reported high satisfaction ratings regarding V-WISE content, instructors, guest speakers and staff.

ELIGIBILITY

V-WISE is open to all female veterans, active duty female service members and female partners/spouses of active service members and veterans who share the goal of launching and growing a sustainable business venture. Participants may be from any branch of the military and any era of service.

COSTS & LOGISTICS

The program is offered to qualified participants for a one-time $75 registration fee. Participants are responsible for their transportation costs to and from the on-site conference location. The cost of the program, meals, and lodging during the conference are funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the IVMF’s private-sector partners.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides indepth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for  veterans and military families.

APPLY

We operate on a rolling admissions basis, therefore early application is highly encouraged.

Apply online at: vets.syr.edu/vwise

QUESTIONS (315) 443-4629 – vwise@syr.edu

Meghan Conroy Florkowski is responsible for the management, coordination and administration of the IVMF’s V-WISE and Operation Endure & Grow veteran entrepreneurship education and training programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering psychology with a minor in systems engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a master’s in exercise science and health promotion from California University of Pennsylvania.

“V-WISE is open to all female veterans, active duty female service members and female partners/spouses of active service members.”