On the evening of Saturday, July 27, 2019, a group of 24 veteran business owners graduated from the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV). The program, which just celebrated its 12-year “Maroon Anniversary,” is hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship and serves as an intensive, experiential training program for post 9/11 veterans with a desire to launch and maintain a successful business.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect after completing phase I and arriving at Texas A&M for phase II,” said Calvin Allen, retired Army. “After completing Phase 1, my vision for a business was still not clear. After the fourth day of Phase 2, I had a clear direction in mind as to how I should go about my business goals.” Allen plans on opening a start-up classic auto shop focused on the continued evolution of Jaguar’s XJS and classic Porsches. “Attending the EBV program at Texas A&M is a must and a huge step in the right direction towards becoming a Veteran business owner! I feel ready and better prepared to aggressively pursue my business goals,” noted Allen.

EBV is a 12-month long program divided into three phases. Phase 1 is a three-week online, instructor-led course where participants build their business acumen and knowledge. Phase 2 consists of an intensive eight-day residency at a university where participants learn the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership from established entrepreneurs and educators. Phase 3 provides post-graduation support and mentorship through EBV Technical Assistance — managed by the IVMF.

This year’s Texas A&M EBV boasted a record number of mentors. Seventy-five men and women from across Texas volunteered their time, wisdom, and personal networks to help support the EBV Class of 2019. One of the most beneficial resources to EBV participants is the networking opportunities they receive throughout the week. “The mentor sessions are invaluable,” said Gilda Mitat-Del Valle founder of CBD Relief in San Antonio, “and were my favorite part of the program. You receive advice from successful entrepreneurs who really care about helping you.”

An instant camaraderie emerged between this year’s group as if they weren’t 24 strangers who had met only eight days ago. They became one another’s advisors, cheerleaders, and troubleshooters. The Texas A&M EBV Class of 2019 included a record number of participants whose businesses were already generating revenue. “The EBV program has something for everyone. Whether you have an existing business or thinking about starting one, you will benefit from this amazing program. I grew as an entrepreneur and as a person.” commented Mitat-Del Valle.

When asked what advice she would give to future EBV participants, Mitat-Del Valle stated “the best advice I can give a future EBV attendee is try as much as possible to make the most of this amazing opportunity. Try to get your home support system to take care of everything back home and try as much as possible to disconnect and focus 100% on the program for the full eight days. This program is life-changing, so be ready!”

To learn more about the Reynolds and Reynolds Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, visit ebv.tamu.edu.