Malliotakis, Veteran Promote Free NYU ‘Veteran Entrepreneurship Training’

Program helped New York Veteran Start Her Own Business

(L-R) Craig Wilson, of the NYU VET Program, Chris Shaw and Nina Vizcarrondo, VET participants, recently met with Assemblywoman Malliotakis in Albany to discuss the VET Program.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Bay Ridge) is partnering with New York University (NYU) and local veteran Nina Vizcarrondo to promote the Veteran Entrepreneur Training (VET) program at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, in partnership with Bunker Labs NY; which is currently accepting applications until August 18th. Combining both academic and real-world lessons, the VET program was developed by NYU Tandon with support from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and funding secured by the New York State Assembly, and offers veterans a hands-on technology and business curriculum and mentorship to help them transition into the technology industry to launch potential ventures and careers. Nina Vizcarrondo is a graduate of the program and used the skills learned to start her own craft beer selection and delivery company.

“Our veterans sacrifice so much in their service to our country and, through their training, acquire many of the skills necessary for entrepreneurship – patience, discipline, creative thinking. The VET program has proven that it can build on those foundational skills and provide the additional knowledge and mentorship for students to carry their ideas into reality, and eventual success upon returning to civilian life,” said Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

“NYU Tandon is excited to offer a program that will bring more participants into the innovation economy,” said NYU Tandon Vice Dean for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Kurt Becker. “Veterans have the skills necessary to succeed in the entrepreneurial world and we are proud to support them after all of the service they have provided to each of us.”

The first two cohorts combined 25 graduates including Nina Vizcarrondo, a resident of Staten Island and former US Coast Guard chef, leader of the NYU Military Alliance, and NYU Steinhardt Food Studies major. Ms. Vizcarrondo, along with Rishi Soneja (fellow food studies major and field artillery soldier), George West and Blair Johnson formed Citi Brew, a locally brewed craft beer selection and delivery company.

"The VET Program at NYU Tandon was an amazing experience because being taught by some of the most talented entrepreneurs in NYC gave me the skills and confidence I needed to succeed in the civilian world without affecting my 9/11 G.I. Bill education benefits," said Nina Vizcarrondo. "The VET program takes all the values that we were taught in the service and translates them into building our own business."

NYU Tandon embeds innovation and entrepreneurship into its academics and programs. It runs a growing network of three tech incubators in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan and collaborates with other universities in a state-supported proof-of-concept center called PowerBridgeNY, which supports academic researchers as they become entrepreneurs. Since 2009 67 companies have graduated from its incubator program—with a combined valuation of all companies at $721 million.

The school drew from its innovative entrepreneurship programs to develop the VET Program. The free, 14-week course starts with four days of intensive classes followed by one-day-per-week classes and venture validation presentations. Classes and guest lectures cover a range of topics including prototyping, revenue models, accounting, marketing, and fundraising. The program concludes with two showcases: an internal presentation to the stakeholders of the program, local technology business leaders, corporate partners and investors; as well as a public session.

Veterans accepted into the program work alongside startup companies at the school’s incubators during the entirety of the 14 weeks and receive a portfolio of resources to supplement the classes. Additionally, mentors and guest lecturers from across industries and professions support class participants as they develop their ideas into business ventures.

Applications can be completed and submitted at http://engineering.nyu.edu/business/incubators/veteran-support/veteran-entrepreneur-training.