Veteran Entrepreneur Program

Empowering Entrepreneurs Who Served Our Nation

Building a Network of Military Founders

Grow With Us!

The Veteran Entrepreneur Program propels Veteran-led companies to new heights. Through a variety of programs, we support Veteran entrepreneurs from the idea stage to Series A and beyond. At any stage, the program will better prepare founders from fundraising efforts and bring clarity to the elusive process of accessing capital.

Since 2018, the Veteran Entrepreneur Program has accelerated 100+ military founders. Through The PenFed Foundation and its investor partnerships, alumni founders have accessed several million dollars in startup capital.

Our accelerator program is free of charge to founders, and we do not take equity in your business. Our sole purpose is to position vet-led companies for success. Grow your business with us!

Our next cohort of the Veteran Entrepreneur Program is September 25-27 in Bentonville, Arkansas. 

Why Bentonville?

“Bentonville, Arkansas is a hub of knowledge, retail, consumer product goods, logistics, and supply chain. The world’s experts are here, and they love helping veteran entrepreneurs”

Testimonials

What's exciting about it is the connection to the military that everyone has. Everyone's a veteran, everyone has some sort of experience and background in military service. It's like-minded people that really, I believe, improve our creativity, thought, and focus as we go through the journey.

What Makes Us Different

Our program is tailored specifically for veteran entrepreneurs, providing free participation without taking equity in your business. You’ll receive personalized guidance from industry experts, access the latest business strategies, and connect with a robust network of fellow veterans and key stakeholders. Our hands-on workshops offer practical, immersive learning, and our exclusive resources support your business growth. Located in Bentonville, a hub of retail and logistics expertise, we provide unparalleled access to top industry leaders.

Mentors

Tom Davin

Davin has over three decades of experience building fast-growing, category-defining brands. He joined Black Rifle Coffee Company’s board in 2018, becoming Co-CEO in 2019. Under his leadership, BRCC expanded into new business areas and went public in 2022. Previously, he transformed 5.11 Tactical into a global brand. Davin also held leadership roles at Panda Express, Oakley, and Zumiez, and currently serves on the boards of Backcountry.com and PEAR Sports, and as an advisor to Innovate Partners.

Allan Peretz

Allan, the Founder of Bold Strategies has utilized his expertise in ecommerce and product placement to help Terra Arma and Trident Coffee prepare to launch on Amazon and Walmart's Ecommerce platforms. His expertise and network has saved our companies months, and thousands of dollars. Allan has had a direct role in preparing the companies in the program to grow their business and tackle D2C

Presenters

Gail Becker

Gail Becker

Gail is best known as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the Founder of CAULIPOWER, the most disruptive company in the better-for-you frozen food space. The company experienced hyper-growth, reaching more than $100m in revenue in three short years. She has received recognition for her achievements in business from publications such as Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. Gail is a frequent media guest, sought out for her opinions on female leadership, healthy food trends and building great brands.

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith

Stuart is the former Global CEO of Ogilvy’s Earned Influence business, where he led over 3,000 employees across 80+ countries, developing strategies for clients like Microsoft, P&G, Nestlé, Intel, and Unilever. With Board-level experience in Ogilvy, Burson-Marsteller, and H+K Strategies, Stuart has built brands and reputations for major companies over his 30+ year career. After a decade at Ogilvy, he became Chief Marketing & Growth Officer of CAULIPOWER, helping it reach $100m+ in revenue. Currently, he creates value through growth for businesses and brands, advises several companies, and works with Tenth Avenue Holdings.

Previous Presenter

Michael Steadman

Michael “Iron Mike” Steadman is a seasoned business coach, brand builder, and category whisperer, specializing in empowering veterans, Black women, and those accustomed to being the lone voice in the room. A Black veteran and serial entrepreneur based in Harlem and Newark, NJ, Michael understands the unique challenges faced by those who defy the odds and break barriers. Committed to redefining what it means to be a Mogul or MisFit, Michael sees these terms as badges of honor representing strength, resilience, and innovation. He provides trusted guidance to help clients focus on what truly matters, scale their businesses, and lead their teams. Michael’s goal is to be the trusted voice in your corner, ensuring you have the support needed to succeed.

Ben Bunn

Ben Bunn

Former Green Beret and Infantry Officer, Benjamin spent 17 years in the Military before exiting in 2016. He has several deployments in support of the Global War on Terror to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Baltics in support of stability operations in Eastern Europe. He is the current owner of Cigar City CrossFit, and holds several Director-level positions across multiple businesses and enterprises including Bravo Sierra, Cold Zero Spirits, and Warrior Rising, where he serves as the Deputy Executive Director. He has 20+ years of successful management experience in the Military, Small Business, and Start-up industries.

Joe Yalch

Joe Yalch is a Partner with Pente Consulting Group. Joe has spent the last 20+ years implementing new strategies in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to construction. He has worked with many firms, large and small, to help them establish new processes, organizational structures, and infrastructure to support business process changes. His role on projects can range from project manager, to content expert, to business process engineer.

Phil Shelhammer

Phil Shelhammer is the Executive Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI) at the University of Arkansas. He mentors entrepreneurs and supports the community through entrepreneurial education. Previously, he held leadership roles at Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and Procter & Gamble. Phil holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He enjoys outdoor activities and serves on the boards of Arkansas Athletes Outreach and Students Acquiring Knowledge through Enterprise.

Matt Hesse

Matt Hesse is an Army veteran and the Founder and CEO of the University of Health & Performance (UHP). Inspired by the military’s impact on his life, Matt created the “Purpose Blueprint” in 2017 to help veterans find their purpose post-service. He founded UHP in 2021. Previously, Matt founded and led a multinational sports nutrition company before selling it in 2017. He serves on the POTUS’ Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, supports Veteran charities, and advises Veteran Entrepreneurs.

Event Calendar

June 10-12
Spring 2024 Cohort

Veteran Entrepreneur Program Cohort in Bentonville, AR

August 15
Application Deadline
September 1
Announcement of Cohort
September 25-27
Fall 2024 Cohort
October 22
Veteran Tribute
Spring 2025
Spring Cohort
Fall 2025
Fall Cohort

Current Company Portfolio

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