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This year’s Veterans in Economic Transition Conference (VETCON) saw significant growth over last year’s annual event. VETCON was sold out this year with approximately 550 people in attendance at the two-day conference.
Approximately 550 people – mainly military veterans – attended the two-day conference at Albany’s Desmond Hotel, November 27 and 28. There was also an increase in the number of sponsors, as well as in the number of federal and New York State agencies, and businesses that offered consultations with attendees looking to start or improve their businesses. Attendees took advantage of a multitude of hands-on workshops, where they learned how to start their own companies and about the importance of becoming certified in New York as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB), and they had many opportunities to network with each other throughout the two days.
Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, U.S. Army Veteran, Tom Deierlein was this year’s keynote speaker. Deierlein inspired attendees by talking about his own journey from active duty – which included earning his Airborne Ranger qualification and serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom – to founding his own successful technology business, ThunderCat, which delivers technology products and services to government organizations, educational institutions, and commercial companies. ThunderCat is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) as Deierlein became a wounded warrior when he was shot by a sniper and critically wounded in 2006.
The top three finishers in this year’s VETCON Business Plan Competition were also revealed during the conference. The competition allowed aspiring veteran business owners the opportunity to pitch their plans to a panel of judges. Twelve veteran-owned businesses submitted business plans, from which three finalists were chosen – MemoryFox, Chris Miano, Lindsay Macaluso and Tripp Higgins; Rope Safe, Jonathan Norton; and United Aircraft Technologies Inc., Daryian Rhysing and Evaguel Rhysing. Each finalist then produced a video about their company’s business plan, which was shown during the conference.
The three finalists received a prize package that included a cash award and services provided by Tully Rinckey PLLC, Innovate 518, The Bonadio Group and Sandler Training. The winners were:
The VETCON Alliance thanks all of this year’s participating sponsors, agencies, partners and attendees for making VETCON 2018 a success, and it looks forward to continued growth at next year’s convention.