A Veteran’s Day Conversation With Entrepreneur and Vet Ray Antonino

November 11, 2016

10:30 am

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2012, aims to to provide service members, veterans, and their spouses with access to mentors and training that will help them create the next generation of high-growth startups. Since its inception, the organization has helped over 500 participants. In honor of Veteran’s Day, I spoke to one vet who has been through the program an impressive total of four times: Twice as a mentee, once as a volunteer, and one more time as a mentor.

Ray Antonino is the CEO of PermitZone, a startup that is helping to standardize access to permitting requirements for contractors nationwide by enabling them to pull construction permits online, from anywhere. It’s bringing transparency to the government processes surrounding neighborhood regulations. Here’s what Ray had to say about his experiences.

How Did Patriot Boot Camp Work?

“It speaks to the incredible feeling you get from being part of something special. I remember attending the first event with basic knowledge of what it meant to be a technology startup and leaving with the complete clarity of what my next steps needed to be and having a new family to lean on for guidance along the way.”

How Has Your Experience Formed Who You Are as an Entrepreneur?

“When I think of PBC, the first word that comes to mind is ‘authenticity’ and the second is ‘give first.’ As a result of witnessing the power of both in action, I decided as an entrepreneur that I would build a business on transparency and always make time to mentor others where I can bring value.”

How Have Your Mentors Helped Your Success?

“Most important is the relationship I have built with Taylor McLemore, founder of Patriot Boot Camp (PBC). From the very first time I met Taylor at in NYC (April ’15), I knew I had met a friend and mentor for life. His selflessness and the undivided attention he provides is unlike anything I have experienced. Since then, Taylor has made special trips to visit our team, once while in Florida for an incubator and later as we completed Techstars in Austin, TX. When I have a pressing issue and need a coach to get me on track, I reach out to Taylor.

“[…] When times get weary, I am reminded of an important message that David Mandell (CEO, PivotDesk) shared regarding what the road for a startup founder ‘really’ looks like. David’s intimate detail and straight talk on how he has navigated the tough times within his own startup serves as a comforting reminder that being a founder is not easy and I that am not alone.”

What’s Next for PermitZone?

“While it’s important that we remember our goal of democratizing access to construction permitting requirements for every municipality in the country, our focus in the near term, is to continue overturning every stone to find the right messaging, sales channels and product market fit. In doing so, we will improve the efficiencies of 2.5 million contractors and the tens of millions they serve.”

Any Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs?

“There will never be a better time than right now, no matter your circumstances. Building a business is the equivalent of running a marathon. You will need to have sprints at times, but pace yourself along the way and never forget that to hydrate, is to have fantastic mentors that will be with you through the finish line!”

Any entrepreneur, veteran or otherwise, should be looking to lock down a sharply defined game plan for themselves. Given the number of municipalities that Antonino is invested in shedding light on across the U.S. — 19,655 in total — he’ll have a plan ahead for the foreseeable future.

Image credit: Naji H. Kelley / BLNDED

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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