Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program

From service to startup

A tuition free military veteran entrepreneurship training program.

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Nearly one in four active duty service members and veterans want to open and operate their own business. Opportunity, freedom and solving problems attract them to the challenge of owning a business. Are you one of them?

Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program Logo and 2019 Fall Cohort

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program offers Honorably Discharged Veterans free, on-campus/virtual instruction in the nationally-recognized Lean Startup Methodology. Designed to work around your busy schedule, the program provides you instruction from our nationally ranked entrepreneurial staff and faculty, access to local resources such as business leaders and mentors, and an opportunity to join the local veteran entrepreneur community.

Florida Gulf Coast University's Institute for Entrepreneurship (IFE) has been hosting the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program (VFEP) since spring 2016, and has been successful in assisting veteran start-ups and facilitating programs that help veteran entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses.

The IFE houses an on-campus, full-service incubator, which is also open to all program participants and VFEP alumni. Additionally, the IFE will open our weekly speaker series to veteran participants and will offer at least two annual networking events in conjunction with the Lee County Economic Development Office and other local organizations for veteran entrepreneurs. All cohorts will culminate in a pitch competition where participants completing the program will have a chance to win equity-free seed funding for their businesses.

FGCU offers multiple learning pathways in entrepreneurship, two business startup programs in the Spring and Fall designed to walk you through the steps and give you the confidence to start your business and a business growth program in the summer that helps give veterans the resources and skills to scale their business.


Over 80*

Veteran owned businesses started.

Over $25M*

generated by Veteran businesses.

Over $300K*

in grants awarded to participants.

*Updated 7/22/2020.

Loki Anthony working with Mentor Troy Bolivar in the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Startup Program


The Start-up Programs will be 12-weeks, and veterans will attend sessions each Wednesday evening and Saturday morning for the duration of the program. Wednesday entrepreneurship skill training sessions will be fully interactive and tailored to meet the needs of the current cohort based on the level of their start- ups as well as their industries. Saturday sessions will primarily focus on application of the skill learned the previous Wednesday to the veteran's individual business, and hands-on mentorship .

Derrick Aguilar Marine Corp Veteran Participant of the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Growth Program and Owner of American veteran Welding


The Growth Program will follow a similar structure; however, it will be condensed into an intensive 6-week period, and will be focused on later stage start-ups and established businesses seeking to optimize or grow. Veterans will attend training sessions each Wednesday and Saturday, and will be assigned a faculty mentor and community advisor with specific experience in growing businesses .

Our Eagle Vetrepreneurs

Meet the U.S Military Veterans that have turned their dreams into a reality.


Lia Coronado US Army Veteran Owner of Contempo Dance

Lia Coronado, Army

Lia is an Army veteran and the owner of Contempo Dance Club. Contempo Dance Club is dedicated to boosting the confidence of women through fun, easy-to-follow dance routines. Contempo has continued to expand their community within Naples and SWFL, inspiring women of all ages to express themselves through dance.

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Derrick Aguilar US Marine Corps Veteran and Owner of American Veteran Welding

Derrick Aguilar, Marine Corps

Derrick is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who started American Veteran Welding, which provides Southwest Florida with certified mobile welding and fabrication services. Specializes in heavy equipment repairs and brings welding capabilities onsite.

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Andrew Morris US Army Veteran and Owner of Turtle Pads

Andrew Morris, Army

Andrew Morris is a U.S. Army veteran, percussion teacher and founder of Turtle Pads, a company that integrates drumming practice pads into a backpack to give percussionists quick access to everything they need to be successful on the go.

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