WithYouWithMe hosted a Veteran Startup Pitch Night with Fishburners on Wednesday 25th October to showcase the veteran startups on our free Veteran Start-up Pathway.
WithYouWithMe established the first Veteran Start-up Pathway to assist veterans with a start-up idea make their dream a reality. The veterans completed a training and mentoring program that helped them to establish and scale their businesses. Read more about our partnership with Fishburners.
The veterans who pitched on the night include:
Mark Wales – Kill Kapture
Kill Kapture creates battle hardened apparel. The Pathfinder Jacket was built around the values of a sense of purpose and duty – a tribute to the work of small teams in the world’s most hostile environments. Contact Kill Kapture via their website: http://www.killkapture.com/
Tim Walmsley – BenchOn
BenchOn is a supplier sourcing platform that matches short-term contract requirements to the hidden talent inside Australia’s best companies. Contact CEO Tim Walmsley on 13000BENCH.
Chris Moran – The Tie Collective
The Tie Collective helps transform Aussie blokes for those memorable moments that deserve more than just an ironed shirt. Contact Chris Moran via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Thompson – Dome VR
Dome VR is an immersive tech start-up that allows the physical exploration of almost any digital setting or scenario – expanding the possibilities of the digital and physical worlds through a synergy of technical systems. Contact Dome VR via email: email@example.com
Dwelling among them, I can say that one of the biggest complaints from millennials focuses around employment, whether it’s related to the ‘cruelty’ of not being able to find a well-paid job straight off the bat, or simply not knowing what career path to take (oh, the horror).
A significantly wider issue, but noticeably less talked about, however, is the employment difficulties veterans experience during their transition from military to civilian life.
According to data from WithYouWithMe, a startup working to ease this transition, the unemployment rate of Australian veterans sits at 30.2 percent, nearly six times higher than the national average of 5.9 percent.
Calling itself a “talent incubator”, WithYouWithMe looks to combat this number through its online job matching platform, which pairs veterans to jobs based on their skills, experience, and personality.
Looking at gaps in the labour market, the business works to identify where and what type of roles companies need filled, often doing so predictively ahead of time to ensure they have veterans ready for employment as soon as job positions become available.
Founded by Luke Rix and veteran Tom Moore, the startup is aiming to help veterans find their career pathway based on the roles they held in the defence force, empowering them to become competitive candidates through skill training programs and online mentorship, often led by ex-military personnel and employment coaches.
“We…employ veterans in companies through gaps in the labour market, such as cybersecurity and insight sales. There’s about 75 different career pathways that we train for,” said Moore.
Having served in the Australian Army for over seven years, from a local base to Afghanistan, Moore was eventually discharged from service due to medical reasons, leaving him with little choice but to pursue non-military career pathways.
With a qualified degree combined with years of military experience – both in and out of combat – Moore experienced the difficulties veterans face gaining employment first hand, after being knocked back from 15 job interviews.
“I figured that if I’m having this much trouble and I have a degree, what’s happening to my fellow soldiers?” said Moore.
Eventually moving on to work for a large company, Moore saw a number of veterans he knew struggle with the employment problem alongside other issues post-service issues, with some attempting suicide.
“I’d had enough,” said Moore.
“The process is broken; veterans don’t know what to apply for, and companies don’t know where to hire them, even if their intentions are real.”
Leaving his company job, Moore paired with his cofounder to launch WithYouWithMe, selling his car to fund the startup’s early stages.
Veterans on the platform enter a series of personal details, similar to the information required to fill out a CV, including what rank and role they held in the military, before the system churns out 10 career paths based on their “transferrable skills” and personality.
Selecting a career path of interest, veterans are able to complete a training course either online or offline, based on the nature of the content.
“Every 13 weeks we open online courses. A lot of our jobs are things such as mining, rail, and infrastructure, which is done off site, and we fund that all. Sales and business analyst courses are all completed online, and generally it takes six weeks to get through a course, which really just fills in some of their skill gaps, building on what skills they had from the military,” explained Moore.
“We charge the veteran nothing, but of course it’s quite costly to train someone. Originally we built a SaaS system, but no one wanted to buy veterans yet, so we pivoted to a consulting model.”
Acting as a recruitment agency, the startup earns revenue from hosting jobs, as well as through training a company’s internal mentors and building an exclusive “program” on the platform which allows organisations to directly tap into the platform’s talent pool.
“Companies can have an incubator built into our system, so a recruitment company, for example, could offer its own career pathway, which is branded to them,” said Moore.
For veterans who need assistance in understanding how non-military career paths work, the startup offers “Compass”, a program which teaches how the average civilian workplace operates, how it’s different, and how the entire job system functions.
From there, these users are allocated a mentor. Mentors help guide veterans through getting their job application up to scratch, setting up their Linkedin profile, and exposing them to their private network for potential employment opportunities.
“To become a mentor, you submit and application and we’ll approve it. They also talent scope, and grab some top quality guys and put them into companies such as Amazon, who we’re working with. About 75 percent of veterans we directly place to roles through the job platform, while the others get placed through the mentor’s network and recommendations,” explained Moore.
After a slow start last year, Moore said the business has been accelerating recently, placing 129 veterans into jobs over the last three months.
To help predict where opportunities in the job market will appear, then train veterans for these roles ahead of time, the startup is currently building a “predictive model” tool to operate this function, ultimately increasing employability rates for WithYouWithMe users.
Read online with Startup Daily.
“…talk to at least three people a day about your ideas and what action you are taking to achieve them…”
After working in Air Force Intelligence for over 5 years, Bodene Childs left in 2013 to pursue a career in marketing and has since established her own companies: Kaizen Marketing and Kaizen Space.
Bodene struggled to transition into the civilian workplace, as her military skills were not immediately transferable to industry. She had minimal qualifications and no business or corporate network to turn to for advice and mentoring. In fact, one of Bodene’s biggest challenges in establishing her businesses has been building her small business network. After serving in the army, she had difficulty trying to build her reputation and expand her network, so she had to work “double as hard to make up for lost time”.
Bodene started Kaizen Space to help other start-up business owners, especially ex-defence members, to expand their networks and seek advice from people who have successful start-ups. She also has a digital marketing agency called Kaizen Marketing, which was inspired by her military background in intelligence. Bodene wanted to transition into an industry that enabled her to analyse data and write reports, as these were tasks she most enjoyed in the defence force. Her businesses have enabled her to pursue her passions and help others as well.
Bodene is grateful that she has been able to provide a space for small business owners to come together, build their network and share advice. She advises other veterans who are thinking about starting their own business to read ‘The Lean Start Up’ by Eric Ries and talk to at least three people a day about your ideas and what action you are taking to achieve them. By focusing on your start-up and talking about it consistently, Bodene believes that you will remain more focused and be able to build your network and reach your goals.
For more information about Bodene’s businesses, check out Kaizen Marketing and Kaizen Space.
New program to create the next wave of veteran start-ups
WithYouWithMe, the military talent incubator helping veterans get employed, has announced a partnership with Fishburners to help bring veteran business ideas to life on Wednesday 25 October.
WithYouWithMe is establishing the first Veteran Start-Up Pathway – a program to assist veterans with a great business idea make their dream a reality. Veterans will submit their business ideas, with a number chosen to undertake the program free of charge.
The program will culminate in a veteran pitch event, hosted by Fishburners, where the veterans will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to investors and industry leaders, with the best idea winning a free starting membership to Fishburners.
Tom Moore, WithYouWithMe founder and CEO said: “I know from personal experience how difficult it is turning a business idea into a fully-fledged company. However, we’ve seen a number of veterans set up successful companies through sheer drive and tenacity to make their dream a reality.
“This program will make that process a little bit simpler by offering real tangible advice about how to establish and scale a business. Many of the skills learnt in the military set up veterans perfectly to be successful business owners, and the pathway program will offer the additional support required to take them to the next level,” Mr Moore said.
The program will train veterans in everything they need to make their start-up a success, from developing a pitch to setting up financials. Each veteran on the program will also be assigned a mentor who has experience in establishing and scaling businesses to offer real support.
One veteran who has successfully transitioned from military life to establish a tech start up is Tim Walmsley, CEO of BenchOn. BenchOn is a B2B Professional Services platform that matches a business’s idle staff to short- term contracts from reputable companies and Government Agencies.
Mr Walmsley said that many of the skills he learnt in the military gave him an advantage when starting his own business: “From my own experience, I believe veterans are perfectly placed to found their own start-ups.
“The Defence Force teaches you to be mission focused including how to create workable plans to complex situations and then how to implement that plan to achieve success. Not only that, veterans are some of the most innovative people I know and coupled with the intense work ethic you get from serving, they can be unstoppable,” Mr Walmsley said.
“Making the leap from the Defence Force to become CEO of own tech start-up”
CEO of tech start-up BenchOn and WithYouWithMe mentor Tim Walmsley’s transition wasn’t as challenging as many others experience. His preparedness and willingness to start his new career path after the ADF has helped Tim achieve success and motivated him to help others have a seamless transition.
Tim served in the army for 14 years in artillery and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq during this time. He demonstrated leadership and problem-solving skills as a Team Manager during his time serving, but credits his military experience at Capability Development Group for helping him get to where he is today. Tim was the Senior Project Manager for the Air Defence replacement project and built a large network in the Defence Industry to help his company gain strong early traction. He learnt the value of networking early on and urges those currently going through their transition to “start building your network now, it’s one of the most powerful ways to get a job. Most companies hire through their networks so get out there and start attending networking functions and Defence Forums”.
Tim had a reasonably easy transition process. He was preparing to leave the ADF in 2014 and was speaking to his future employer during this time to ensure that he had a good understanding of what his requirements would be before he started. He shares with those currently transitioning that the most critical requirement for entering the civilian workplace is to get a qualification. Tim notes that even though veterans are highly skilled and capable, “businesses often like to tick the qualification box. It doesn’t need to be a Masters degree, just something that is transferrable”.
Tim is now the CEO of BenchOn, which “solves employee underutilisation in businesses by matching their idle staff who are in between contracts, to short-term contracts from reputable companies and Government Agencies”. Since leaving the ADF, Tim hasn’t looked back and wants to help the military community in any way he can to have a smooth transition process.
Register as a mentee here today to start your transition process. We’ll place you on the right career path and link you with a mentor to guide you through the process.
Register as a mentor here to help guide our mentees as they complete one of our Incubation Pathways.
“Pursuing academic and professional success after the Defence Force”
Co-Founder and CEO of military start-up Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA) Matthew Sharp overcame his challenging transition from the ADF into industry to launch his own not-for-profit organisation. Now a WYWM mentor, Matthew hopes that he can help others currently transitioning understand their worth and realise how valuable and transferrable their military experience is in the civilian world.
Matthew served as a Rifleman and Infantry Section Commander for 6 years in the ADF before leaving in 2013 to study law at university. Matthew admits that his transition was quite challenging, stating “being older than most university students, I often found it difficult to relate to others on campus”. Additionally, he had to refine and develop his academic skills, as he hadn’t studied for more than eight years.
As the CEO of ASVA, Matthew helps support ADF personnel who are undertaking higher education throughout Australia. His ability to overcome the challenges of transitioning from the ADF has motivated him to support others through ASVA and as a WYWM mentor.
Matthew believes that his military skills and experience have been highly transferrable to his current career. He encourages “other ex-service personnel to draw upon their military training and experience to pursue their academic and professional goals post-service”. Matthew also stresses that service personnel should understand that their military experience has made them stronger people and to not “down play the skills and experience they have obtained from their time in the ADF”.
Those looking to take the next step in their careers and transition from the ADF into industry should register as a mentee here.
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