Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia is launching a new entrepreneurship program this spring with a unique three-phase program that allows disabled veterans to pitch their business plan “Shark Tank” style. The Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart program is modeled after an entrepreneurship “boot camp” started by Syracuse University in 2007. That program has expanded to include eight other universities, and Saint Joseph has applied to join the consortium.
The program is free to qualified candidates and is operated out of the university’s Office of Veterans Services. Student participation will be divided into the following three phases.
- The first phase is an eight-week online course. The self-guided curriculum aims to teach fundamental business principles and help students develop their business plan.
- The second phase is an intensive seven-day session at Saint Joseph’s Philadelphia campus. Students will attend classroom sessions, participate in workshops and panel discussions, and hear from successful entrepreneurs. The week ends with the sought-after opportunity to pitch their business plans “Shark Tank” style.
- The final phase includes a six-month mentor program and access to small business services, including accounting and tax advice, Web design and legal services.
The launch of the program is partly credited to the community. The idea came about two years ago when a donor came to the Dean wanting to create an entrepreneurship program specifically for disabled military veterans. Since then, many businesses have offered free services that will contribute to the success of phase three of the program. The goal is to give veterans “enough to jumpstart their ambitions so in the first year…they get their business up and running,” said Ralph Galati, director of St. Joseph’s Office of Veterans Services. St. Joseph University hopes to at least match the 70 percent success rate of the Syracuse program.