These four veteran owned businesses are relatively young (founded within the past five years) and have all found success because there’s an obvious need in the United States as a whole, or they filled a specific void in the military community. We think they are worth knowing about & supporting if you are looking to patron veteran owned businesses…
1. Plated, founded by Nick Taranto, US Marine Corps, Infantry.
Nick Taranto learned early on that you can have big starry-eyed dreams, but without a toolkit and skills of how you can accomplish those dreams, they won’t come to fruition. It was while enrolled at Harvard for an MBA program where Taranto met military personnel who had that vision, drive, and knew what it was like to harness the power of dozens or hundreds to all work toward a common goal.
Taranto then enrolled in the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and was ultimately commissioned as an infantry officer.
Fast forward to 2014 when Taranto and co-founder Josh Hix got on Shark Tank for their business idea called Plated. The past five years have been quite a ride for the co-founders as their original Shark Tank deal with Mark Cuban fell apart, however when the show followed up for “Beyond the Tank”, investor Kevin O’Leary was so impressed by the duo’s progress that he made an investment.
In September 2017, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers bought Plated for $300 million.
2. Millie, founded by Ken Robbins, U.S. Army, Armor & Jason Dempsey, US Army Infantry.
Ken Robbins and Jason Dempsey teamed up in early 2015 after completing their twenty-year Army careers. It should come as no surprise that their business venture’s mission is to support and help the military community. Robbins & Dempsey are the co-founders of MILLIE, a real estate marketplace that connects military and veteran movers with trusted resource providers.
Over 200,000 service members exit the military each year. An additional 260,000 are given orders to PCS to a new duty station. The military will ship a family’s personal property, but deciding where to live & how to navigate the moving process is largely left to the service member or their spouse.
Because of this, these moves are a significant source of stress for military families. Unfortunately, few quality resources are available to assist with the moving process. It’s difficult to find an agent that military families can trust when looking to buy a house.
Robbins & Dempsey’s goal is to make MILLIE a one-stop shop and the most visible and trusted resource for veterans and military families that are PCSing.
3. Sword and Plough, founded by Emily Núñez Cavness, active duty officer in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps & Betsy Núñez
Sword & Plough founders, sisters Emily Núñez Cavness and Betsy Núñez, grew up in a military family. Emily’s experiences serving in the Army inspired her to start Sword & Plough with the mission to strengthen civil-military understanding, empower veteran employment, and reduce waste.
The brand repurposes military surplus and incorporates that material into bags and accessories. They work with U.S manufacturers that are owned or partially operated by veterans. They also donate 10% of profits to veteran organizations. Sword & Plough creates American made products that promote social and environmental impact.
At 20 years old Evan Hafer was consumed with the desire to serve his country. He joined the Washington National Guard after high school and then went on to become a Green Beret. He served the United States for twenty years. Before each of his 40 different deployments, he would always roast ten pounds of coffee to take with him. He says that what he roasted himself was always better than anything he could ever get while on deployment.
Hafer separated from government service in 2015, and it didn’t take long for him to figure out what his next step was.
Black Rifle Coffee Company is owned and operated by U.S. military veterans and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it roasts and distributes premium coffee blends.