“I'm not sure that I'm the best necessarily at starting a business from scratch - figuring out a business model in my garage, making this thing work, and taking all the risks there are in the startup phase. But I was pretty sure that I could take a business that had cashflows, infrastructure, and a business model and make it a lot better."
– Jim Vesterman
Jim Vesterman is the CEO of Raptor Technologies, which is the nation's leading provider of integrated safety technologies for K-12 schools. He got his undergraduate degree at Amherst College, after which he worked at both the Monitor Group and for a software startup. He deferred his MBA to join the Marine Corps as part of 3rd Force Recon Company. After he got his MBA from Wharton, he started an entrepreneurial vehicle called a search fund - which we’ll get into - called Liberty Place Capital. Liberty Place Capital ultimately purchased Raptor Technologies in 2012 and he has been running that company for 5 years.
The top two reasons to listen to this episode are:
This is a new type of episode, and I'd love any feedback on this approach. Usually, I interview military veterans about their civilian career. Today, instead, I'm going to dive into a specific skill I think would be helpful to veterans in their civilian career: Empathy. This has come up in many episodes as something that veterans have needed to develop to progress in their civilian career. A tool that I have found to be extremely helpful in my own life in building up empathy is something called: Non-Violent Communication (NVC).
In this episode we'll talk about how to build empathy (just like a muscle), and how identifying feelings & needs can uncover strategies to meet more people's needs (your team, your co-workers, your spouse, etc).
"I was a Signal Corps Officer trained in telecom - I managed switches and all those kind of things, so I really understood traditional telecom infrastructure. These engineers who became my co-founders developed a soft switch - basically, using a computer, you could control a big piece of hardware somewhere else to make a phone ring. What I knew was that was massively disruptive. And what we didn't know together was where that disruption was going to lead us. And that disruption led us, eventually, to LiveOps."
Patrick is the Founder and Managing Partner at High Ridge Global, which is a private investment and advisory firm. He started out as a ROTC student at the University of Southern California, after which he served as a Signal Corps Officer in the Army for four years. After his service he got his MBA at Georgetown. He has worked at JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, was part of the Founding Team of LiveOps (a company that now has over $100M in revenue), and has founded, invested in, and served on the board of multiple companies.
Why to Listen:
"We always say that you earn while you learn in this business. So even though we were both full-time active duty when we started this business, you can really build it into the nooks and crannies of your life, while just learning the process. Because there are people who are willing to hold your hands so that you can walk and then run in this business."
- Samantha Allen
Samantha served as a Marine for 5 years at Marine Special Operations Command (2nd MSOB) and weapons training Battalion. Ray is an HSC pilot now instructing at the Naval Academy.
The two live in Annapolis, MD with their three daughters, and have been building their business together for four years.
Why to Listen:
"Working for this company, we started outsourcing to the Philippines, and we started doing more and more work with the Philippines. Eventually my buddy and I said, 'Why don't we setup a company in the Philippines to do the outsourcing for our employer?' So we pitched out bosses and they loved it. And so that kind of got our foot in the door."
- Justin Cooke
Justin Cooke is the Founder at Empire Flippers, a company that helps others buy, sell, and invest in profitable websites and online businesses. He started out in the Navy, where he spent 6 years as a Sonar Technician 2/C (STG2). Empire Flippers is an INC 500 company - Justin runs a 22 person team and has $27M+ In Online Businesses Sold.