I grew up as the son of a 20-year Special Forces soldier, which led me to pursue service in the military. The decision to attend West Point still stands as the best decision I have made in my life (other than marrying my wife). The Academy instilled discipline, integrity, accountability, and more—all lessons that I carry with me in every aspect of my life. My time at West Point and service in the military shaped me as a man, businessperson, investor, and now entrepreneur and CEO.
After transitioning out of the Army and attending business school, I spent approximately 20 years in the banking and investment industries. I worked as a partner at venture capital firm, Perot Jain, where I had the privilege and opportunity to invest in over 40 early-stage startups. Most recently, I cofounded and serve as CEO of CollateralEdge, an innovative fintech company that is re-envisioning debt capital delivery for the middle market.
With every experience, I become more and more assured that the skills gained in the military are skills that also make a successful entrepreneur.
I share this background only to illustrate that I have had my share of firsthand experience working with entrepreneurs across a variety of stages and industries. With every experience, I become more and more assured that the skills gained in the military are skills that also make a successful entrepreneur.
Veterans bring a unique perspective to business and entrepreneurship. We are all trained to look at the most efficient and effective way to solve complex problems while ensuring the greater good of those who are impacted.
I am honored that nine fellow veterans have chosen to invest in CollateralEdge. Below, four of these leading businessmen and veterans share their insight into the unique lens they believe veterans bring to entrepreneurship, and why investing in veteran entrepreneurs is a smart business move for anyone.
Veterans are reliable and disciplined.
“The military gives you a strong sense of discipline, teaches you to put your team first, and it is a selfless environment. I make it a priority to hire veterans, and in my experience, they come with a ‘can do’ attitude. When things are challenging, they don’t say that it can’t be done; they say, ‘We can do this. We will figure it out.’ And, they do. That is the type of attitude it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.” —Joe DePinto, President and CEO at 7-Eleven, Inc.
Veterans possess grit and mission-critical decision-making skills.
“The most compelling quality of an entrepreneur is grit, and if military veterans have one shared characteristic, they have grit. Military veterans are used to adapting, overcoming, and making mission-critical decisions with limited, sporadic, and uncertain information, and that really epitomizes the character of grit in someone. Making critical decisions with limited resources and information is exactly what entrepreneurs must often do. A veteran’s experience in this regard, and the grit they possess, make them ideal entrepreneurs.” —Clay DeGiacinto, Managing Partner and CIO at Axonic Capital
Veterans are trained to lead with respect and integrity.
“The military provides you with an opportunity to lead at a very young age. The leadership skills you acquire, and observe, in the military allow you to identify and hone your role as a leader. As an entrepreneur, your leadership will drive and influence the business at the highest level. Veterans lead with respect and integrity, and in business, integrity is everything. Military academies weed out those who do not have character and integrity in the beginning. This is why veterans back veterans. We know their character.” —Patrick Daley, Managing Partner at Tur Partners
Veterans are mission-focused.
“Veterans tend to be very mission-focused. In the military, you have a mission to accomplish, and it is up to you as a leader to figure out how to accomplish that mission. The stakes are incredibly high and failure is not an option. This creates leaders who have the ability to maintain their composure, to be level-headed, and stay calm and collected during demanding and difficult situations.” —Darcy Anderson, Vice Chairman at Hillwood Management
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Whether you’re looking for your next employee or a great investment, don’t overlook veterans. Again and again, I’ve seen that the character and skills they acquire during military service translates to excellence in leadership, management, and entrepreneurship in the private sector.