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Hofstra Vets Challenge Announces Semifinalists

Entrepreneurship program includes mentorship, virtual bootcamp, and pitch competition

Nineteen startups from across the country will compete in the semi-finals of the $100,000 Hofstra University Veterans Venture Challenge on June 23. The semifinalists represent a cross-section of products and services from all regions of the country and were chosen from more than 100 entries.

The Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge was designed as both a pitch competition and a virtual business bootcamp encompassing sales, marketing, and leadership mentoring to help veterans entrepreneurs get clarity on their go to market strategy and groom their businesses for sustainable growth.  

Since April, the entrepreneurs have participated in mentoring sessions with accomplished CEO’s and business leaders and engaged in go-to-market development programs with marketing executives and Hofstra University student interns, all with the intent of strengthening and improving their businesses while developing their initial customers and marketing strategies as they prepare for the semifinal pitch competition.

The semifinalists will also participate in a virtual business bootcamp in June, and ten companies will be chosen to compete in the August 6 finals event, where the $100,000 in seed capital and in-kind prizes will be awarded.

“The semifinalists, mentor teams, and Hofstra University student interns have been working together closely over the past few months to help forward the overall business goals of these startups,” said Stacey Sikes, Executive Dean of Entrepreneurship and Business Development, “Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship will continue to foster these collaborations as we move to the final round of the competition.”

The Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge is a partnership of the Center for Entrepreneurship, the Hesselbirg Family and the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce. It is one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship contests for retired service members in the nation.

Kevin Hesselbirg, an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Center and a retired, three-time CEO of growth-oriented businesses, helped sponsor the challenge, and commented, “Innovation, new ideas and creative solutions have never been more important given the myriad challenges and business disruption created by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Hesselbirg said. “We’re proud to support the entrepreneurial initiative of these veteran-run ventures and give them the tools they need to flourish as we rebuild our economy.”

The 19 semifinalists include: 

  • 13 Stars – A hot sauce company serving premium hot sauce and giving back to U.S. veterans, first responders, and their families.  Warren, RI
  • At Ease – A two-sided marketplace which connects hosts with homes that meet federal lodging criteria to federal and military travelers during business travel. Austin, TX
  • Biao – A digital skincare line using science, nature and technology to protect the skin from environmental aging. New York, NY
  • CathWear – An all-in-one medical undergarment for catheter leg bag users. Lawrence, MA
  • CavnessHR –  Delivers human resources to small businesses with 49 or fewer people to help small business owners recover the 25% of time they are spending on HR. Dupont, WA
  • Custobee – A web platform that protects online shoppers orders from porch pirates. Hampton Roads, Virginia 
  • Custom Donations – A secure donation platform with customizable, mobile-friendly forms to optimize fundraising efforts while using your own organization’s branding. Florence, SC
  • Explorer’s Guide Online – Offers digital maritime licensing courses that meet all federal licensing requirements and can be taken anytime, anywhere. Milwaukee, WI
  • FitFighter – A complete strength and conditioning system originally designed for firefighters and now available to coaches, athletes, and the general public, with Steelhose weights, iOS App, and Live workout training platform. Port Washington, NY
  • K9 Salute – Natural dog treats that honor and give back to K9 Heroes. Tacoma, WA
  • knowRX – A digital health platform that delivers relevant data and tools to empower patients to better assist physicians, health institutions, and caregivers in providing the best possible care. Austin, TX
  • PIACET – A digital solution for managing employee credentials. Colorado Springs, CO
  • Revolution Agriculture – A scalable logistics platform that sources excess land within communities to grow all crop types year-round with less water within 10 miles of consumers. Tacoma, WA
  • RopeSafe USA – A dual use rope protector and anchor strap that protects military and first responders serve our country and keep our families safe. Killingworth, CT
  • Rownd – A Data Ownership Platform that is simple to integrate into any app or website, provides easy data privacy and security for developers, and elegant data control for every consumer end-user. Durham, NC
  • Skyist – Skyist’s flagship solution, LegionX, is a cloud-based tool capable of rapidly analyzing millions of emails for patterns with the use of applied AI and features advanced, customizable visualizations. Centerport, NY
  • Standard Boots – Military grade combat boots sized especially for the female foot; to facilitate optimal performance and equal footing. Memphis, TN
  • Supply IQ – A technology platform that eliminates transparency issues in logistics and provides increased quality of procurement of courier services through improved provider and supplier collaboration. Baldwin, NY
  • UPROOT Homes – A financial technology-driven mortgage services platform that reduces reduces barriers to homeownership for active duty service members. Washington, DC.

For more information visit www.hofstra.edu/veteranschallenge.

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