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ASU To Nurture Collaborative Environment for Veteran Startups

Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 15:08


Courtesy Skysong

ASU's Skysong campus

Updated Aug. 14 2012: The print article that ran in the Aug. 9 issue of College Times incorrectly listed the start date of the Rapid Startup School. The correct start date is Tuesday, September 18, at 6 p.m.

A new program by Arizona State University’s Venture Catalyst hopes to help veterans, military and defense professionals launch new startup companies.

The Rapid Startup School, a Military/Defense/Veterans (MDV) program, will help stimulate new startups in the greater Phoenix area free of charge to its participants.

Gordon McConnell is the Assistant Vice President of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration for the ASU Venture Catalyst and said the idea for this program was a natural fit for Arizona because of its rich military history.

“We have a lot of wide open spaces for testing in Arizona,” McConnell said. “We also have a lot of veterans that live out here having trouble finding jobs.”

McConnell felt the Rapid Startup School could give veterans an opportunity to create their own jobs, adding that all business experience levels are welcomed.

According to McConnell, some of the inspiration for this program was from Israel.

“Israel has done a good job of translating military people into entrepreneurs,” McConnell said. “We are trying to do the same here.”

McConnell has numerous startups and plans to aid those who are starting from scratch.

The Rapid Startup School will start on Tuesday, September 18 at 6 p.m. It will continue to meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. until October 4.

The classes will consist of guest speakers and a lot of dividing and talking to one another in small groups.

McConnell explained that the classes will not replicate traditional instruction, with tests and assignments.

“If you never graduated high school or college that’s fine,” McConnell said. “We want you to be there because you want to learn. It’s about you being a sponge.”

McConnell also plans to organize an ongoing event called Military Mondays to keep veterans in touch after the Rapid Startup School sessions end.

McConnell expects that most of the startups will be somewhat related to backgrounds of the people attending the classes.

“We suspect, because of the backgrounds, there is a good chance most of the start ups will be military related,” McConnell said.

However, he said that does not mean that the startups must be military or defense related.

“What we are all about is creating jobs, value and wealth in the community,” he said, adding that he hopes for this to lead to statewide collaboration.

He compared Arizona’s potential to some other notable United States locations where collaboration has been key to success.

“In North Carolina, they have the research triangle and in California they have Silicon Valley,” McConnell said. “All of these areas are all about collaboration.”

In Arizona, McConnell hopes to expand on what he refers to as the “Creative Crescent.”

“This University and the others around the state are all about creativity,” he said. “If you notice on a map, the three cities where the schools are create a crescent.”

“I think that if these three prosperous areas can learn to work together as one, the entrepreneurial potential in the state could take off.”


For more information, visit Meetings take place at ASU Skysong campus,1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

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