Venture Hive, the Miami-based entrepreneurship education company, is partnering with the city of Fort Walton Beach to launch a national accelerator for veteran-owned businesses.
Venture Hive will provide selected veteran-owned tech businesses with business coaching, customized training and a relevant network to scale their ventures, driving the economic growth of the region. Fort Walton Beach has allocated $500,000 to the initiative and will provide renovated space to house the Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach Accelerator.
"Our area is home to Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and the 7th Special Forces Group, among other specialized military-related organizations, so we have long been a center of innovation and cutting edge ideas tied to our military. With the launch of Venture Hive we will expand that innovation to cutting edge veteran owned businesses as well," said Mike Anderson, mayor of Fort Walton Beach, in announcing the accelerator Tuesday.
Venture Hive aims to help vetrepreneurs build large scale and global market companies that can take advantage of the innovative research already being conducted in the Fort Walton Beach area, said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive.
Benefits of the program include a $25,000 non-equity grant, a curriculum of practical workshops and training sessions, access to a collaborative working space in Fort Walton Beach for a year, mentoring from a vetted network of local and global entrepreneurs and experts, exposure to investors and a Demo Day on Veteran's Day. The first 12-week accelerator class, which will be free for the selected companies, will run from Aug. 17 – Nov. 11 in downtown Fort Walton Beach. Applications will be accepted until June 1.
Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach also will offer a pre-accelerator program to help military veteran entrepreneurs begin to build businesses that are still in the idea phase of development. The program is supported by Gulf Power and other regional business leaders. The first 12-week pre-accelerator class will run from July 18 – Oct. 12. Applications for the class will be accepted from April 21 – June 1.
"We take great care in building individuals to reach their potential so they can execute on their visions – no matter how impossible it may seem," said Amat. "We are thrilled to support Fort Walton Beach’s economic development goals by doubling down on the incredible existing talent and resources of a city that offers both a wonderful lifestyle and great opportunity."
The program is open to any business founded by a U.S. military veteran developing innovative web, mobile or technology product solutions to address a clear market need. To apply and learn more, visit http://veterans.venturehive.com.
Venture Hive’s programs in Miami have shown a $7.3 million economic impact in less than two years of operation, with support from Miami-Dade County and the Miami Downtown Development Authority. In addition to an accelerator and incubator in Miami, Venture Hive runs an entrepreneurship program for high school students as well as summer camps for younger students. Venture Hive also runs virtual pre-accelerators with the Microsoft Innovation Center for Chile, Nepal, Armenia and Pakistan, among other programs.
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.