Patriot Boot Camp will host its technology entrepreneurship education program for the military community at Geekdom from Feb. 3-5. Fifty military service members looking to join San Antonio’s tech ecosystem will participate in the three-day workshop.

Registration for the February session has closed due to high demand, but the program will likely be coming to Texas on a more regular basis.

The boot camp will educate military entrepreneurs from San Antonio and around the country on starting, innovating, and scaling technology-focused businesses. Modeled after the three-month Techstars accelerator, the program is available to veterans, active service members, and their spouses at no cost.

Patriot Boot Camp uses a nationwide network of business and startup community leaders to guide participants in bridging the gap between military service and entrepreneurial life. The February Patriot Boot Camp in San Antonio is sponsored by USAATechstars, MilTribe, and the Jared Polis Foundation, with local support from Bexar County and MetLife.

“Patriot Boot Camp is precisely the type of project Bexar County wants to support through the Innovation Fund,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff stated in a news release. “The military instills a lot of valuable attributes in service members and Patriot Boot Camp aims to turn those attributes into the entrepreneurial spirit needed for a career in tech.”

This San Antonio cohort differs from previous ones in its higher percentage of active duty service members. Of the 50 attendees, 26% of applicants are active duty and 4% are military spouses.

The Rivard Report asked Patriot Boot Camp Executive Director Charlotte Creech about the program’s long-term plans for hosting cohorts. With headquarters now in Denver and Austin, the camp is committed to hosting a program annually in Colorado and Texas.

“I expect in Texas that we will rotate back and forth between Austin and San Antonio each year, but that will largely be determined by venue availability and local sponsor support,” Creech said. “We have been very impressed by the level of community support in San Antonio.”

Since 2012, it has hosted nine programs in seven cities, serving more than 550 military entrepreneurs. The local workshop will be the 10th.

One of the San Antonio participants, Ben Fennen, joined Geekdom in January with a discounted military membership package. Fennen left the U.S. Army in 2016 and founded Fennen Logistics LLC, a consulting firm that “creates solutions to everyday obstacles” by connecting clients with veteran organizations that can assist them with 3D printing and manufacturing challenges.

“In the next quarter, I’ll also be launching Vet Edu, a national company providing ‘Train the Trainer’ STEM programs for veterans, teaching them tech skills so that they can go out in the community and train students on tech in grades K-12,” Fennen said.

USAA and Bexar County, among other local companies, were instrumental in bringing the program to San Antonio, Creech said.

“Blake Yeager and Kara Gomez from the Techstars Cloud accelerator had been encouraging us to bring our program to San Antonio for quite some time,” she added, “all of whom have been a huge source of referrals and on-the-ground support to make this program successful.”

On a national level, there have been two successful exits via acquisition – Military OneClick and Uvize. Eight Patriot Boot Camp alumni have been accepted into the Techstars accelerator programs and two have joined the Y-combinator accelerator.

Two alumni appeared on Shark Tank, and one of them successfully negotiated a $1.5 million offer from investor Mark Cuban.

A 2016 sample shows 55 program alumni generating a combined $9.5 million in annual revenue and employing 1,175 individuals.

“I have seen firsthand how (Patriot Boot Camp) bridges the gap between military service and entrepreneurial life by connecting veterans with high quality education and mentoring,” said Creech, herself an alumna of the 2012 and 2013 cohorts. “I look forward to helping more entrepreneurs integrate into the startup ecosystem and accelerate their growth.”

Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science, and veteran affairs. She won the Texas Veterans Commission Media Excellence Awards for her 2016 Veterans Day story "Life as a Veteran: What Veterans...