VBOC Success Stories
Bravery Kids Gym located at 886-A Elm St, Fayetteville NC is an inclusive indoor play facility that offers a fun, safe and stimulating learning environment to promote childhood development through play. They cater to children with special needs and typically developing children ages 0-10.
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) assisted us with developing our business plan, understanding different types of funding programs, and ultimately putting us in contact with a funding source which approved us for a SBA loan. The VBOC continues to provide assistance and counseling in all areas of business and is always there to answer any questions we may have. They send us monthly information on funding opportunities, and free business courses relevant to growing our business.
I would advise other veterans transferring into entrepreneurship to have a group of business counselors to consult with and never be afraid to ask questions and seek out advice. Also, start your business with a strong foundation. Do the necessary work during the planning and development phase of your business to alleviate unexpected circumstances during operation.
Veteran Counseling and SBA Loan Help Retired Green Beret Start Drive-Through Coffee Shop
Before Erik Brinkman opened up The Morning Jump Coffee Company near Fort Bragg North Carolina, he served with the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces for 24 years. As a Green Beret, he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as American embassies in Indonesia, Rome, Cambodia, the Philippines and India. During his travels he developed an interest in specialty coffees from all over the world.
Erik ended up stateside at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington. It was there he got a taste of the coffee scene of the Pacific Northwest. He noticed that other coffee shops in the area had two drive-through windows for commuters. After retiring to North Carolina, his wife and daughter urged him to follow his dream and create a coffee shop that focused on putting it out for the soldiers.
As he transitioned out of the military, Erik consulted with the SBA Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Fayetteville State University. With their help, he crafted a business plan and took an accounting software course.
Twenty SBA VBOCs across the country help military veterans start and grow small businesses. They provide training, counseling, and technical assistance for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reservists, National Guard Members, Active Duty business owners and start-ups.
Counselors at the VBOC referred Erik to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSDF) to seek financing to start the venture. CSDF is a statewide non-profit and Community Development Financial Institution that provides small business loans, including SBA loans, to new and existing small businesses. In 2014, Morning Jump Coffee Company was approved for a $150,000 loan through SBA’s Community Advantage Program.
SBA Community Advantage is a loan program designed to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. Community Advantage provides loans of up to $250,000 through designated lenders. There are four SBA Community Advantage lenders in North Carolina.
Like many entrepreneurs, Erik faced a few challenges, starting with a delayed opening. As the custom made coffee shop structure was installed, there were zoning issues that resulted in construction cost overruns.
Then, after a year in business, road construction created problems for local businesses, many of which closed. Morning Jump hung in there. They currently have six employees and are looking to add another shop in Fayetteville and also build a coffee roastery.
“Without the SBA and CSDF loan, we would not have been able to get the business off the ground,” said Erik. “It’s an amazing program to help veterans after they separate from the service.”
Erik Brinkman, Owner
The Morning Jump LLC
The Chocolate Fix is located at 135 South Main Street in Fuquay-Varina, NC. We offer over 100 different varieties of fine heritage chocolates and lots of other delicious candy, including general store candy that let's us all be kids again!
Our mission is to make life sweeter by offering our customers comfort, delight, and new family traditions one delicious piece of chocolate at a time! Let us be the sweet spot in your day.
The VBOC helped us tremendously by walking us through the process of writing our business plan. That was daunting and their guidance and encouragement helped us immensely.
Running our business has been an amazing experience. We've gotten to become a part of our downtown community. Our customers who come in day after day are so supportive. We love talking to people and making them smile when they leave with lots of goodies. A candy store really is a happy place!
I'd tell anyone who is looking to start an independent business that it is all consuming and exhausting, but so incredibly rewarding! Seeing your vision and business plan in action is wonderful. I'd also tell them to be true to their vision. Everyone has their own ideas for your dream--and they're not shy about expressing them to you! Some are excellent ideas to adopt and implement while others won't be in line with your wants and needs. Be true to yourself and your business.
George Burnett, Owner
Chocolate Fix LLC
The Folding Boat Company, LLC, located in Holly Springs, NC, is owned and operated by Navy veteran Pete Flood. The company designs, builds, and sells lightweight, quick to assemble, multi-purpose, folding boats. The folding boat provide hassle free access to the water anywhere to do most anything.
"I started the Folding Boat Company because I wanted to create a better way to access those “hard-to-reach” gems off the beaten path. I pooled my nautical knowledge (Quartermaster, Navigator, and Helmsman in the US Navy), my engineering and construction expertise (from my years at SAS Institute), and my tenacious desire to craft a boat that is the essence of accessibility. The result is the K-PAK. She is a true folding boat and holds the promise of endless adventures."
The VBOC at Fayetteville State provided counseling and business advice including business plan reviews and help with obtaining an SBA loan.
I would advise any veteran that has a desire to become an entrepreneur to do their homework and work hard.
You can learn more about The Folding Boat Company LLC at:
Pete Flood, Owner
The Folding Boat Company, LLC