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Why One Investor is Banking on Vets

Posted by Diana Ransom | November 11, 2011
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/220700

Joseph Meyer

Among the many skills service members cultivate in the military, leadership and critical thinking are also valued by entrepreneurs. So it makes sense that veteran turned entrepreneur Joseph Meyer is looking to invest in a few good men and women.

"Veterans are fundamentally very good leaders who can learn fast and understand the importance of getting the job done," says Meyer, who served as an armor cavalry officer in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1989 and as a major in the Reserves until 2002. "Most veterans do not know how transferable their skills are and they need some insight," adds Meyer whose biggest claim to fame is his 2006 sale of Skylight Financial, a prepaid debit card issuer, for more than $121 million.

Here's how he plans to help. The veteran entrepreneur and investor has announced that he would invest in startups led by veterans who have great ideas, a desire to succeed and the ability to execute a plan. In exchange for a minimum of 20 percent equity, his Atlanta-based private equity firm Meyer Capital will invest $10,000 to $500,000 in companies -- with an emphasis on financial technology and business service providers.

Related: Five Resources for Turning Vets into Entrepreneurs

But why is he so sure vets are a worthwhile bet? Here are some of Meyer's reasons, plus some key advice for fellow veteran entrepreneurs:

Describe at least one incident in which having served in the military has helped you in business. 
Only one? I like to use the 'rock drill' strategy. Basically, it works like this: When someone has a plan, I make us go through the rock drill where each person walks through his or her specific function in the plan, as though a real event is happening. We see where the holes are and fix them before a product launch. It's saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars for sure.

Related: Franchise Industry Looking For a Few Good Veterans

Veterans often describe having difficulty returning to civilian life. What did you do to get readjust to everyday life after serving in the military?
I went to work for Frito Lay, a division of PepsiCo, as a district sales manager. I knew I could lead and be successful, but I wanted to prove it to the civilian world. When I came out of active duty in 1989, PepsiCo managers were seen as 'the best,' so I wanted to see how I would do at the job. I took a district from last place to first place in 14 months. Of course, they trained me; they sent me to sales management school.

Related Slideshow: 10 Lessons from America's Greatest Military Leaders

What advice would you give veterans looking to start up in today's economy?
Do you have the stomach for it? It is rewarding, but the ability to come home and look your spouse in the eye when you're not bringing home a paycheck is very hard and stressful on a marriage. I recommend starting small and being prepared to bootstrap. And if you can, go to work for someone in the business and then go start your own gig. This way, you'll see if it's what you really want to do.

How should interested veteran entrepreneurs reach you?
Email me: jm@meyercap.com