A widening lens on diversity in the new economy
International shared workspace, WeWork launches Veterans in Residence program in Denver
PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID NOVIN
After courageously protecting the citizens and territory of the United States from external threats, military veterans face further puzzles and challenges as they transition into civilian life. During that shift, these brave men and women take on the complexities of discovering new purpose, community and a professional trajectory.
To address those challenges, WeWork – a collaborative workspace with more than 140 locations – conceived of a new program, titled Veterans in Residence, in which former service men and women would be invited to “find your tribe; create your life’s work.” The program, molded in partnership with Denver-based nonprofit, Patriot Boot Camp, officially launched at WeWork Union Station, Thursday, May 11.
Inviting 10 veterans to take over a dedicated, sponsored workspace for three months, the pre-selected participants receive one-on-one mentorship with local business leaders, entrepreneurship workshops, and access to the global 100,000-person WeWork membership, encompassing startups and freelancers, small businesses and large corporations.
“At WeWork, we believe that by working together every person and every community can powerfully affect positive change around the world,” said Jon Slavet, general manager of WeWork West at the launch event. “And we believe we have an obligation to advance that vision by being an active partner in our community.”
Formatted comparably to an incubator, the schedule of the Veterans in Residence program includes an intensive orientation, weekly roundtables, projects and challenges. Occasional community events, speaker series and volunteer opportunities will be scattered throughout the 90-day program.
With a high concentration of military bases and more than 413,000 veterans, 40,000 of whom served in post-9/11 war zones throughout Colorado, the Denver metro area is ripe for recognition and action-oriented programs, drawing veterans into the modern business community.
“Denver was a natural fit for WeWork’s Veterans in Residence program,” says Josh Anderson, COO at Patriot Boot Camp, attributing the choice to the community’s “give-first” sensibility, and the explosion of startups and infrastructure to support them. “We were grateful to join the WeWork community through the Mission Possible Program last year. WeWork helped us grow and build our community, so when the idea came up for teaming up to build the WeWork Veterans in Residence program, it was a no-brainer. By working together we can create positive impact at scale and build a national community that will help equip veterans to become future economic leaders.”
Patriot Boot Camp, with a strong foundation in the Techstars network, is an intensive, three-day educational event designed to mentor military members, veterans and their spouses to start technology-focused businesses. The program aims to assemble and activate an inclusive community that advances veterans and military spouses in their mission to become creators, innovators and entrepreneurs leading the new economy. The objective of the nonprofit is to provide access to mentors and training to encourage innovation and build the next generation of high-growth, scalable and impactful companies, leveraging network of military, business and startup community thought-leaders to help veteran entrepreneurs bridge the gap between service and startup life.
According to research from the United States Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than those without active-duty military experience.
WeWork’s Veterans in Residence will launch in Austin, Tex. Later this month and intends to expand to other cities across the U.S. through this and next year.