Veterans Talk Business at 3rd Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium


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17 November 2015
Hillsborough Community College (HCC) held its 3rd Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium at the Plant City Campus on Saturday, November 14. The symposium was attended by over 137 veterans, and was created to provide assistance on how to start and manage a business. The day-long event included keynote speeches, breakout sessions and a business pitch competition.

“The training symposium was very informative and influential towards my future as an entrepreneur,” stated Desheun Hines, HCC student and veteran. “The variety of speakers and workshops helps with getting an overall understanding of the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur.”

Keynote speakers for the event included:
  • Mark Sharp: Director of Tampa Innovation and a Navy veteran. 
  • Valerie Ellis: Co-founder and CEO of Veterans2Corporate and an Army veteran.
  • Clint Day: Entrepreneurship-in-Residence at State College of Florida and a Vietnam veteran.

The symposium ended with a business pitch competition, allowing attendees to pitch business ideas to a panel of experts. Over 27 businesses applied to compete in the competition, but only nine were selected. The pitch contest panel included participation by Tim Horton, a serial entrepreneur; Courtney Paat, an insurance professional; and David Sullivan, Senior Executive Vice President/Area Executive of Platinum Bank.  The panel awarded three winners with prize money ranging from $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place.

First place was awarded to HCC student Chris Oshana, who pitched AmeriCLEAR, which is a restoration service for cloudy/yellowed car headlights on high-end used cars. Second place was awarded to Daniel Arthur, who pitched Arthur & Associates Consulting LLC, a consulting firm which aims to help students and young adults reduce consumer debt and increase financial independence. Third prize was awarded to Kimberly Blackmon, a student at the University of Tampa, who pitched Privileged Faces LLC, a business offering a product known as Brush EZ, a make-up brush cleaner and dryer that will clean and dry make-up brushes in less than two hours.

The event was sponsored by the HCC Foundation, Hillsborough County Government, the Economic Development Innovation Initiative, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation and TECO Energy. 

Hillsborough Community College serves over 45,000 students annually at its five campuses located throughout Tampa Bay.  The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 
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