Former Air Force Commander Opens Startup Incubator For Vets
At the end of World War II 25% of veterans left the army and opened up their own companies. Now, with Gulf War veterans and veterans who’ve done tours in the middle east, that number has shrunk to 5%. Surprising? Yes!
Phil Potter, a former Air Force Commander, and startup founder himself, opened the doors to The Armory last month. The Armory is one of only a handful of startup incubators focused on Veterans. One of the other notable veteran focused startup efforts is The Bunker, which got it’s start at Chicago’s 1871.
The Armory offers co-working space, mentorship, resources and access to investors, for veterans. The space was a year in the making, and along that road they’ve already attracted 8 new startups.
CYR3CON is a cyber security company lead by Army vet and CEO Paulo Shakarian. They were the first startup company to sync up with Potter and The Armory. “The Armory has helped me out with everything: legal help, customer help, beta testing, making connections, leadership team help and financials,” Shakarian told The Phoenix Business Journal.
Kiran RajBhandary had a brother killed in action in 1983. He and his partner Gary Baudisch, a Navy vet, started a smart trash can company called EZ Dump. They’ve also been working with Armory, basically since the beginning.
The Armory held a grand opening kick off just before Christmas.
“The city of Phoenix is going to be the center of veteran entrepreneurship,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said at the opening. “Vets have unique skill sets, passion and dedication. This is the least we can do for those who have put their lives on the line.”
“Fewer vets are getting into the startup game, and we are here trying to reverse that,” said Potter, a research psychologist by trade. “Maricopa County has the second largest veteran population in the country. Vets are fantastic entrepreneurs. We want to be the epicenter of this activity.”