November 11, 2015
ServingVETS is a network dedicated to giving veterans a space to share their opinions about local resources. Using a ratings and reviews methodology, verified veterans are able to provide feedback on everything from educational opportunities, job seeking platforms, and health and wellness facilities. For Veterans Day, the Washington, D.C.-based company is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise $100K to focus on expanding their features, mobile app platforms, and further communication between veterans.
“Veterans trust each other’s opinions and need a central location to record their authentic voices so those organizations can improve and other veterans can make more informed choices with their time and money,”said Jonathon Lunardi, CEO of ServingVETS.
Surprisingly Lunardi is not a veteran himself; however, after leaving Blackboard and working at the Pentagon as a civilian, he started to identify with many of the issues they face. Specifically, he worked with the army and oversaw a prison program that yielded a lot of data and stories about what landed soldiers there. “I had all the data on army suicides, things that army soldiers were doing bad and why they would do that, and how they transitioned into a better warrior life,” said Lunardi.
Other military and veteran resources also focus on other important aspects such as providing scholarships and making connections, but for Lunardi he wanted to focus on another component. It was a matter of bringing technology, specifically apps, to enhance the opinions about local resources and how they can improve life after the military.
One such example is to bring better awareness to resources such as veteran focused accelerators, but many have issues getting noticed in the market. According to Lunardi, “organizers really have a challenge promoting them. Our platform will enable them to do that in a much more accessible way. On their mobile device, tablet… that is the big opportunity. It’s about bringing everything together in a more connected way. Veterans can help each other out.”
Another important feature of the network is that veterans must verify themselves. Working with another Washington, D.C.-based veteran owned startup, ID.ME, veterans are able to access the site and provide feedback on the resources. However, organizations and nonprofits discussed on the network can also claim their pages and the data is available to the public, but they can’t contribute to it.
A very real and growing issue in the veteran world is tied to a concept called stolen valor, or where a person will falsely claim to be a veteran. “Vets are very suspicious of it. It creates a lack of trust. It’s one of the number one topics I hear from vets, and we want to bring a system of trust,” said Lunardi.
Rather than negativity due to false claims, the company wants to create a positive environment through their verified user system. ServingVETS and ID.ME met due to their relationship through DC based accelerator 1776. Lunardi also praise their partnership with ID.ME and the work they are doing, “It’s all because we are in the nation’s capital and trying to support the veterans. They are great guys, are hard charging, and care about their business and customers.”
Through the Indiegogo campaign ServingVETS plans to create an Android, Windows 10, and Amazon app. Some of the perks will include VIP lifetime memberships, crowdfunding training from their founder, and various types of swag. Currently the company generates revenue from organizations paying to advertise with the network. They are partnered with several colleges and universities, as well as the Wounded Warrior Project
“I am proud to be a personal advisor to Jonathon, I have worked with him for many years and his dedication to Veterans is real and true.”, said Founder of the Wounded Warrior Project and Army Veteran John Melia.
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