The Veterans Future Lab welcomes a brand-new group of entrepreneurs for 2020
These veteran-owned businesses are taking a new look at industries like travel, entertainment, health – even soap.
This month the Veterans Future Lab (VFL), a startup hub that provides military veterans and their spouses a chance to grow as entrepreneurs in their civilian lives, accepted its newest cohort. Joining Apex, the VFL’s one-year incubator program for early-stage startups and small businesses, is a group hailing from around the country and already tackling the challenges of entrepreneurship.
“Veterans excel at working in tight-knit teams, and they’ve been in challenging situations where there’s a lot on the line,” VFL Director Grant Fox says. “They bring great determination, work ethic, and grit to their enterprises, and with our Apex program we’re committed to providing them with everything else they need to succeed, from mentorship and NYU’s resources to pitch coaching and business services.”
Importantly, the VFL (part of NYU Tandon’s Future Labs ecosystem of business incubators and accelerators) provides its portfolio companies with a sense of community, where founders are invested in each other’s success and ready to offer support through the inevitable ups and downs of launching a startup. This year, the program starts off virtual, allowing founders to maximize the resources of their own communities as well as access the advantages that New York offers its entrepreneurs.
Meet a few of the founders and read what they have to say about their companies, in their own words.
Blue Eye Soft Corp. (BluedocAi)
Name of founder: Srikanth Kodeboyina
Military affiliation: U.S. Army Reserve (Direct Commissioned Officer)
The company and its mission: Blue Eye Soft leverages its Artificial Intelligence expertise to deliver near-real-time information to its users, enabling actionable decisions in life sciences and defense departments, where timely, dependable results are crucial to mission success.
The company is a South Carolina Research Authority SC Launch , Air Force Research Labs CSA Cohort, and Innosphere ventures client company. We have created Bluedocai™, a clinical decision support tool that uses proprietary AI algorithms to assist radiologists and other healthcare professionals in significantly faster and more accurate detection and diagnosis of pneumonia, pneumothorax, tuberculosis, cancer, stroke and even COVID-19. Our tool can be used with multiple medical imaging technologies and techniques.
Why join the VFL: To connect with the right group of mentors, advisors, and students who can help us achieve our vision and mission.
What else should readers know about you: Blue Eye Soft Corp. received Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding, and Phase 2 is now under review. The founder received expedited U.S. Citizenship for his military service.
Name of founder: Jason Cavness
Military affiliation: U.S. Army
The company and its mission: CavnessHR delivers HR through a voice-enabled AI platform and HR Business Partner based on the location and industry of our customers. Our motto is, “Focus on your business, we've got your HR!”
Why join the VFL: Here we’ll complete the buildout of our platform, ramp up our customer acquisition process, and become fully engaged in the fundraising process.
What else should readers know about you: I host the podcast “The Jason Cavness Experience,” where I talk to small business owners, founders, and other interesting people. I am a City Leader at Bunker Labs Seattle where we help military veterans and military spouses on their entrepreneurial journey. I do my best to add value and to solve problems each day. My personal motto is "Be Great Every Day!"
Name of founders: Tyler Moyer and Alex Perry
Military affiliation: U.S. Army
The company and its mission: CooMo Travel is an online platform that allows individuals to plan and book their entire trip, from start to finish, while allowing other real users to provide recommendations and suggestions based on their own personal experiences. In addition, those who plan their trips through the platform will have the ability to see other travelers who will be traveling to the same cities at the same time, allowing people to potentially meet in real life!
This platform will be essential for all types of travelers but the initial target market is the military veteran community. Currently, suicide is the number-one cause of death, taking 20 to 22 servicemen's lives per day, and one of the leading causes is the constant relocation from place to place. The founder/CEO, Tyler Moyer, was active duty in the Army for seven years, during which he moved seven times and deployed twice to Afghanistan for a total of 21 months. He relates to the hardship of moving, starting over, and losing all the connections made in the previous community.
CooMo Travel will allow these soldiers, when moving to a new area, to view old trips taken in the local area, plan their own personal trip with the help of others, and meet other real people, getting the soldier out of the barracks and interacting with the community. We’ll essentially be combating mental health issues through travel.
Why join the VFL: We want to grow our user base and funding here.
Anything else you'd like readers to know about you: Tyler is an avid traveler with a goal to visit all 195 countries before the age of 45.
Name of founders: Jamison Pereira and Sarah Pura
Military affiliation: U.S. Army (Jamison)
The company and its mission: Eddi is a sustainable soap dispenser for the modern home. With its elegant design and cartridge system, it offers an alternative to single-use plastic bottles that unites elevated style with sustainability.
Why join the VFL: We’re focused on bringing Eddi to life with a launch in early 2021. With support from the Veterans Future Lab, we hope to design an innovative and sustainable packaging system.
What else should readers know about you: We’re also excited to draw on the resources of NYU Tandon to develop an e-commerce shopping experience that reflects our values: elegance, convenience, and good citizenship.
Jackpot Data Science Group
Name of founders: Collin Meyers and Benjamin Gaines
Military affiliation: We were both in the Marines. In fact, that's how we met. We were in the same unit from 2007 to 2010, and even deployed to Iraq together.
The company and its mission: Jackpot makes data on privately owned companies available, insightful, and useful.
Why join the VFL: We are launching a new data platform in September, and we aim to grow it while participating in the VFL program.
What else should readers know about you: For context about our data platform: We have historically been a data science consulting firm, focused on serving clients in the private equity/venture capital space. Through this work, we've come to learn the vast majority of firms in this space have similar (data) needs that could be served on a common platform. There are, indeed, data providers in this space, but they are vastly over-featured and criminally expensive. Their time has come, because we are now entering this market with a much more relevant, affordable service.
Name of founders: Christopher McKelvy and Patrick McKelvy
Military affiliation: U.S. Army (Christopher)
The company and its mission: Lion Media is revolutionizing the podcasting industry for the news consumer. With a focus on live conversation, we are creating a news experience that feels more like a spirited dinner conversation than a food fight. Founded by two brothers who grew up surrounded by politics, Lion Media is elevating the issues and experts that matter.
Why join the VFL: Our company is proudly founded in NYC, and as members of the VFL, we hope to immerse ourselves in the community and culture of New York University.
What else should readers know about you: We keep in mind a quote by Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.”
Norie Shoe Company
Name of founder: Natasha Norie Standard
Military affiliation: U.S. Army
The company and its mission: We make Italian-made luxury shoes that focus on comfort while never forgetting style.
Why join the VFL: I hope to reach luxury retail buyers, luxury retail marketers, and luxury retail influencers to take my company to the next level. What does the next level look like for me? Luxury retail accounts and a solid relationship with a showroom that has awesome KPIs.
What else should readers know about you: After studying footwear design and patternmaking in Milan, Italy for one year, I take a commonsense approach. That education helped me understand that shoes do not have to hurt to be beautiful, wearable, and walkable.
Name of founder: Viral Patel
Military affiliation: U.S. Army
The company and its mission: Radish Health provides population health monitoring solutions to keep your workforce productive and safe from health risks such as COVID-19, cold, flu and bacterial infections.
Why join the VFL: I’m looking forward to working in a community of future-minded fellow veterans, as well as to the networking opportunities and guidance that NYU Tandon provides.
What else should readers know about you: In addition to being a military veteran, I’m a physician, so improving long-term health for everyone in society has always been important to me.
Name of founders: Runa Koli and Matthew Stirling
Military affiliation: U.S. Army (Matthew)
The company and its mission: Repose designs wearables for those looking to optimize their lives by improving posture, helping achieve fitness goals, and providing relief from back pain and muscle tension. Measurements from our devices lead to personalized feedback and allow for customized training plans designed by healthcare professionals for your particular needs.
Why join the VFL: We're excited to be part of the VFL community and to use some of the great resources available like the ProtoShop and MakerSpace to continue refining our hardware.
What else should readers know about you: Having spent the last several months, like so many others, working from home has only strengthened our belief that back pain and problems resulting from poor posture are issues that almost everyone deals with. We're excited to bring real options that help.
Military affiliation: U.S. Navy
The company and its mission: travelMil is a travel media company that engages the military community through storytelling and curated experiences, in an effort to build camaraderie.
Why join the VFL: travelMil's core audience is the military community (active duty, reservists, and veterans). For that reason, I am happy to be a part of this VFL cohort because it means that I get to surround myself with and tap into the minds of the very people travelMil aims to serve.
Using the resources provided by the VFL and NYU Tandon community, I hope to continue building our digital platform to encourage new experiences and be able to share the stories of service members who travel around the world.
What else should readers know about you: The highlight of military service for many service members has been, and continues to be, the opportunity to see the world. We learn so much about ourselves, global communities, and what life is like beyond our own small bubbles. This, as well as my own experience living overseas and passion for learning about different cultures, is the inspiration behind travelMil.
Sail Analytics, Inc.
Name of founders: Uri Shanske and Dyan Gibbens
Military affiliation: U.S. Air Force
The company and its mission: In 2019, Uri and Dyan cofounded Sail Analytics to help clients navigate oceans of data. Sail supports artificial intelligence and machine learning for the defense and energy sectors. We're currently reviewing data for an oil and gas supermajor, and we're slated to perform data collection and analytics for another.
Why join the VFL: We hope to build and grow Sail, as well as our network with and through NYU.
Anything else you'd like readers to know about you: Uri and Dyan met at USAF pilot training as 2nd Lieutenants.