DURHAM, N.C. – After serving in Iraq, Patrick Baker had a dream of becoming an entrepreneur and revolutionizing the high-end necktie market. But before going out on his own, the former Marine is spending a year as a paid apprentice with the military-themed apparel company Ranger Up.
“What I would like to learn from this mostly is inventory control, ordering, warehouse management and wholesale,” Baker said.
“The biggest challenge for veterans, in general, is they leave the military and have a lack of mission and a lack of support,” Ranger Up founder and CEO Nick Palmisciano said.
As an Army veteran, Palmisciano knows this firsthand. He said he made a lot of mistakes during his entry to the business world, such as starting out with too much inventory and buying advertising in less effective venues.
Now that his company is successful, he wants to share the lessons he learned with other entrepreneurial veterans. He established a “Vetrepreneur” program.
Through the program, Ranger Up will pay Patrick Baker for the year he spends at that company, plus an additional six months as he starts his own business. And Ranger Up will invest money in the startup.
“We have an opportunity to take somebody, teach them everything we know and set them up for success,” Palmisciano said. “They can go through all the challenges that we went through, but with a little support and go out there and be successful.”
The program operates on a “pay it forward” philosophy. So, “vetrepreneurs” who establish their own successful businesses are encouraged to reinvest in the veteran community by hiring and mentoring.
“There are a lot of resources for vets that they don’t know about,” Baker said. “They’re out there. It’s just you have to ask. So, reach out to the community. The veteran community doesn’t stop when you get out.”
Jonathan Serrie joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in April 1999 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau.