An academic home – and the entrepreneurial place to be – for military veterans

door to Veterans Future Lab

Veterans seeking to earn a degree after their military service face one early, daunting challenge: deciding what school will best help them attain their civilian goals. With so many factors to consider — from which provide the greatest bang for GI Bill buck to which have the most active veteran communities — many vets understandably turn to the internet to research their options.

There are numerous sites that rank colleges and universities based on the services they provide to their veteran students and their vet-friendly cultures, and time and again, NYU and its Tandon School of Engineering make an appearance in impressive spots.

Recently, in the much-consulted U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best schools in the nation, NYU as a whole ranked number 13 for veterans, based on such factors as size of the veteran community and certification for the GI Bill. U.S. News also acknowledged that veterans and active-duty service members can benefit greatly from affordable, accessible, reputable distance learning, and the publication ranked NYU Tandon number 21 in Best Online Master's in Engineering Programs for Veterans and number 6 in Best Online Master's in Computer Information Technology Programs for Veterans.

Additionally, NYU was just given the highly coveted “gold” status by the editors of Military Friendly, a site that ranks schools on the basis of their commitment, effort, and success in creating sustainable, meaningful benefit for the military community.


Taking the entrepreneurial path

For military veterans with an entrepreneurial streak, New York City is the logical place to be: in late 2020 it landed in the number-one spot on a list of the nation’s best metropolitan areas for veteran entrepreneurship that had been compiled by the nonprofit PenFed Foundation. Among the major reasons for NYC’s place atop the list — which took into account data drawn from government agencies like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census information, the Veterans Administration, and the National Association of Veteran Serving Organizations — was the presence of entrepreneurship resources such as NYU Tandon’s Veterans Future Lab (VFL).

The VFL houses early-stage businesses led by military veterans and their spouses, who receive the training, mentorship, support, and resources they need to launch their ventures.

The VFL was recently the subject of a feature article in Homeland Magazine, a publication aimed at service members and veterans. “One important component of entrepreneurship is building a strong network, whether it’s to get support from other founders, enable access to funding, or identify critical resources,” Grant Fox, director of the VFL, told the publication. “The VFL, part of a world-renowned university and a network of entrepreneurial programs, is uniquely positioned to offer that, making a powerful transition to civilian life.”

Among the startups highlighted in the article were:

  • Norie Shoes, a luxury brand launched by Army veteran Natasha Norie Standard, whose varied CV includes a year in Milan studying footwear design and patternmaking. (Not mentioned in the piece is her other fledgling venture, EQWAL Footing, makers of military-grade combat boots for women.)
  • Radish Health, which combines modern technology and medicine to provide employees world-class healthcare. Its founder, Viral Patel, is an Army veteran and physician who has served as vice chair and operations director at NYU’s Lutheran Department of Emergency Medicine among other roles.
Speaker at VFL

Visit Veterans Future Lab

Learn more about entrepreneurial programs offered at the Veterans Future Lab


A packed calendar

Applications are being accepted until May 16 for Apex, the VFL’s newly streamlined nine-month, no-cost incubator program for pre-seed companies with at least one veteran/military spouse founder. The program will be starting in September 2021, and a limited number of housing awards are available to those relocating to New York City.

In the spring, applications will be opening for VET-II, a continuation of the VFL’s free, introductory educational program Veterans Entrepreneurship Training I (VET-I). VET-II will focus on honing product-market fit, so graduates of  VET-! Should stay tuned for more information.

Looking way ahead, the third annual VFL Summit is scheduled for late June, and organizers predict it will be even bigger and better than last year’s.  

Read more about how friendships forged in the military can lead to entrepreneurial partnerships, the latest VFL cohort, and undertaking VET-! In the age of COVID-19.