The Veterans With Disabilities Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) offers cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to soldiers, sailors, airmen, members of the coast guard, and marines disabled as a result of their service. The intent of the VEP is to open the door to entrepreneurial opportunity and small business ownership by developing competencies in the many steps and activities associated with creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture, and also by helping coordinate efforts with programs and services for veterans and others with disabilities.
Like a military boot camp, this program is intense, rigorous, and challenging. Building upon key elements of Oklahoma State University's comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, the program consists of a series of training modules designed to assist in creating and growing businesses that can be profitable. A team of experienced faculty and successful entrepreneurs will work with the delegates, providing a fun, interactive, and informative experience. They will introduce entrepreneurship ideas and concepts, and show how to apply them to current or potential business.
The VEP is designed around two central elements: a) focused, practical training in the tools and skills of new venture creation and growth, reflecting issues unique to disability and public benefits programs; and b) the establishment of a support structure for graduates of the program. The practical elements of the program will involve three phases:
Phase I: delegates will participate in a self-study curriculum, facilitated by an online discussion and assessment module, which will be moderated by entrepreneurship faculty and graduate students from Oklahoma State University. During this phase they will work on the development of their own business concepts.
Phase II: during this eight-day residency in Stillwater, OK, delegates will be exposed to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of business ownership through experiential workshops and lessons from world-class entrepreneurship faculty representing nationally ranked programs around the country.
Phase III: delegates are provided with 10 months of ongoing support and mentorship from entrepreneurship experts at Oklahoma State University.
The VEP started in 2010 with 24 disabled veterans and has grown to 43 delegates in 2012. This program costs $135,000 per year and is entirely funded by donations and grants. The VEP program is offered entirely free to qualified veterans accepted into the program. We cover the cost of transport to Stillwater, the on-line and live courses, instructors, books, materials, all food costs, and outings that are part of the program. Participants will also receive 24 Continuing Education Credits from Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business School of Entrepreneurship.