November 11, 2014
Timed with this year’s Veteran’s Day, VeteranCrowd, LLC a Richmond, Va-based equity crowdfunding portal, is opening the door to help veteran-managed companies find accredited investors. The portal is itself led by a founder and a board full of military veterans, including founder Robert P. Louthan, who served 14 years in the U.S. Army Reserves as a combat engineer.
Why vets? Besides the fact that it is itself a veteran-led venture, VeteranCrowd’s website says it believes veteran-ownership carries with it skills developed in the military that translate to better results in the private sector. “These veterans developed leadership qualities that include good communication skills, the ability to organize cohesive teams around a goal, to work with limited resources, and meet time constraints. Calm under pressure, these individuals bring a heightened sense of ethics to the business setting – they are trustworthy and reliable. They hold themselves to a higher standard.”
VeteranCrowd can act as an intermediary in order to connect veteran-owned companies to Department Of Defense contracts. DOD directive 4205.01 follows a legislative mandate that a “fair proportion” of military purchases, contracts, subcontracts, and other agreements for property and services and for sales of property, be placed with veteran-, minority-, and women-owned and small businesses. This preference extends to big DOD contractors too, giving historically disadvantaged organizations the “maximum practicable opportunity” to participate as subcontractors in DOD contracts, “consistent with efficient contract performance.” The added funding and management skills that VeteranCrowd will provide its portfolio companies could give them a significant leg up to compete against major companies for these contracts. This translates directly into sustainability for the crowdfunding platform.
Make no mistake; unlike other veteran crowdfunding efforts that seem to be charitably motivated (RepayVets, which offers 0 percent interest loans to veterans comes to mind), there’s a profit motive – “picking winners” – that underlies VeteranCrowd’s mission. It’s best crystalized in a quote from Tom Trobridge, COO of TeraDact Solutions and an Army Vet, on the company’s website: “I think the addition of veterans to any organization mitigates the investor’s risk when it comes to picking winners because you are starting with a known quantity – someone with values, integrity and commitment to success.”
The first company selected as part of the program is DC-based Imagine If, Inc. VeteranCrowd’s president Sharon M. Kelley says, “Imagine If, Inc. represents an ideal first offering of a veteran-managed enterprise for our accredited investors. We expect a response to the offering equal to the enthusiasm building for their intuitive hotel search app.”
The VeteranCrowd board is an honor wall of U.S. military heroes, including:
- Paul Galanti, famous for a 7-year stay in North Vietnam’s so-called Hanoi Hilton
- Jim Hickey, a former Army colonel who is Future Plans Executive Director for Academi and Vice President, ACADEMI Security and Professional Services, responsible for overseas operations and delivering contracted services to key U.S. Government customers on three continents
- Francis Q. Hoang, former Associate White House Counsel and Special Assistant to the President with a dossier including Homeland and National Security issues, and executive officer of a U.S. Army Special Forces company in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, and now Chief Strategy Officer of Momentum Aviation Group (MAG) and Partner at Fluet Huber + Hoang (FH+H), the fastest growing law firm on the 2013 Inc 5000 list
- Ken Herbert, former Assistant Vice President for the National Reconnaissance Office and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency business development and program management at QinetiQ North America and Air Force veteran where he was a Squadron Commander/CIO of a classified satellite operations program and a subject matter expert in the area of satellite and missile operations, now co-founder and President/CEO of Patriot Solutions Group, LLC (PSG), offering services in executive leadership, manufacturing engineering, information technology, and mission integration
- Carl Nease, a former Surface Warfare Officer who now owns R&N Construction, a Richmond-based residential builder and developer.
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