Honoring our veterans and military heroes is something we do every day at StreetShares. We’re starting the summer strong by continuing our ‘Highlighting Our Heroes’ campaign with iHeart Media.
You’ve heard stories from veteran small business owners who have taken advantage of our veteran business loans, lines of credit and government contract financing solutions to veteran business supporters who invest in these small businesses through their Veteran Business Bonds investment accounts.
This week, we’ve got several stories from finalists and winners who have participated in the StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award contest. Their unique backgrounds and military experience has helped them each to become successful veteran entrepreneurs. If you missed last week’s heroes, we’ve got them highlighted here, too.
Tune in to BIG 100 in the Washington, DC metro region each weekday at 5:00pm eastern or stream online at iheartmedia.com to hear stories of our veterans, service members and military families. Subscribe to the StreetShares blog to be the first to know who we’re featuring.
This Week’s Featured StreetShares Members
Sotir Koev, Navy Veteran
Sotir Koev is a Navy Veteran and a part of the StreetShares business development team expanding government contract financing. Before joining the firm, he was a forward-deployed Naval Officer onboard a missile-guided Destroyer, projecting American sea power abroad and protecting global trade around Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Sotir has an entrepreneurial mindset and has invested in real estate, is active in the startup community and is passionate about helping small businesses grow. He graduated with merit from the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. of History and Russian Studies. A true Renaissance man, Sotir is fluent in seven foreign languages, enjoys philosophy, the arts, traveling the world and attending soirées.
Chris Miano, Army Veteran
Chris Miano was a StreetShares Foundation Award Finalist and is the CEO and Founder of MemoryFox, a collaborative, cloud-based program that leverages of therapeutic power of storytelling to help put an end to the depression epidemic that has devastated our elderly population who live in retirement communities. He is a firm believer that the way we treat our greatest generation is a direct reflection on us, and we as a society must endeavor to do much better. He has built a team that is ready to scale this company nationally. Chris formerly served as an Army Captain, leading troops in Iraq as a Platoon Leader and in Afghanistan as a Company Commander. He also served as the Operations Officer for the US Army Northern Warfare Training Center in Black Rapids, Alaska. He recently transitioned out of the military and returned to Buffalo, New York, where he recently completed his MBA degree at the University at Buffalo.
Chris & Cathy Dyer, Marine Corps Veteran & Spouse
Chris Dyer was a StreetShares Foundation Award Winner and is a 20-year retired combat Marine Veteran. Since retirement, Chris and his wife of 26 years, Cathy Dyer, have been involved with the local military community. They volunteer during Memorial Day and Veterans Day services at public schools in Mason, Texas. Chris has an entrepreneurial spirit and has been a building contractor for 12 years and Cathy is the pastoral assistant at their church. After their sons graduated high school, Chris and Cathy opened a frozen yogurt shop on the town square. Grunts Frozen Yogurt serves ice cream, coffee, hot dogs, etc., is decorated with military memorabilia and displays more than 150 photos of local veterans so guests can learn about the veteran community. WWII veterans and their spouses are allowed to eat free every day at Grunts Frozen Yogurt. Chris Dyer was the first place winner of the Veteran Small Business Award from the StreetShares Foundation and won a $5,000 grant toward his business.
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Air Force Veteran
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato was a StreetShares Foundation Award Finalist and completed the Aerospace Studies program (as Air Force ROTC Scholarship Cadet) and a bachelor degree in Environmental Design/Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. While serving as KC-135R refueling tanker navigator, she earned a master degree in international management and marketing, landing her in global technology marketing management roles for German and Israeli companies after transitioning.
Today, she’s a popular bilingual keynote speaker and CEO of SBA-certified WOSB and 8a firm Gracefully Global Group LLC, an award-winning, multicultural publisher of books, eBooks, digital courses and DVDs for educational markets and the military community. Titles include Latinnovating (green economy entrepreneurship case studies) and bilingual children’s books, Good Night Captain Mama and Captain Mama’s Surprise. The latter have won several literary awards for their unique place in children’s literature: the first-ever bilingual books about women serving in the military. In late summer 2017, she’s launching a digital course titled “Authentic Personal Branding for Military Veterans” modeled on the interactive workshop with which she serves student veteran organizations at our nation’s universities.
Brian Zimmerman, Marine Corps Veteran
Brian Zimmerman was a StreetShares Foundation Award Winner and Founder of Vet Hustle LLC (VetHustle.com) formally known as Income Designers. Brian is a Marine Corps veteran and received the Naval Achievement Medal (NAM), along with other honors while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom Iraq. Brian was an Engineer, Black Belt Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor and Primary Marksmanship Instructor. While serving, he helped instruct and train thousands of Marines to combat readiness and carrying on the highest traditions of the Marines Corps.
Since leaving the military, Brian has sought entrepreneurship as his path. His focus is helping other Veteran-Owned Business generate business and develop systems around their marketing process to create more predictable revenue streams. Vet Hustle is about helping Veterans start, grow and market their businesses while avoiding many of the pitfalls of business; saving them time, money and energy so that veteran-owned businesses can focus on their business. Brian resides in Denver, Colorado and is married to Tiffany. They have three amazing children, Holden, Rileigh, and Zoey.
Last Week’s Featured StreetShares Members
Louis Tucker, Navy SEAL Veteran
Louis is the CEO of Mission Sync LLC, a national security sector consulting firm focusing on the intelligence and special operations communities. He also serves as the President of the Foundation for Innovation and Discovery (FINND).
Within the federal government, Louis advises several intelligence/defense principals and he sits on the advisory boards of several technology companies. Louis served as the Republican Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and led a team of legal, policy and intelligence professionals overseeing the $80B+ operations of the Intelligence Community and crafting landmark legislation like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISAA) of 2008.
Louis is a Navy Reserve Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Commander and served in East Africa and Kabul, Afghanistan. He also served as a CIA officer and as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s Chief of Staff. Louis graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in History and earned a Master’s of Science in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University. Louis lives in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife Jane-Anne and their three sons.
Mark Rockefeller, Air Force Veteran
Mark Rockefeller is the CEO and Co-Founder of StreetShares. Mark began his career as a military officer, attorney, and federal prosecutor. Following military service in Iraq, he joined the Wall Street law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. He left the firm to co-found StreetShares in 2013. StreetShares launched in 2014, has raised over $200MM in debt and equity investment, and beat nearly 200 startups to win the 2015 global "Best Investment" award from the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.
Already in 2017, Mark was appointed to the SBA's Interagency Task Force on Small Business Development; Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe visited StreetShares to award the Virginia Values Veterans certificate; and StreetShares earned multiple nominations in the Greater Washington Innovation Awards. Mark has also been listed as a "40 Under 40" entrepreneur and has been selected as We Are the Mighty's 2017 "The Mighty 25," recognizing impactful veterans for service in the military and civilian life.
Mark has been quoted or featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Huffington Post, American Banker, Washington Business Journal, INC., and Entrepreneur Magazine. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance, MBA and law degrees. He was a Stone Scholar at Columbia Law School and is a term member in the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a contributor to Forbes, writing on entrepreneurship, fintech, and veteran-owned businesses.
Jen Pilcher, Navy Military Spouse
Jen Pilcher is the founder of Strategic Military Communications, LLC and MilitaryOneClick, a premier online resource for active duty military, reservists, veterans, and their families. Jen combined her professional experience with over 15 years in the communication field with her personal experience as a Navy spouse for over 20 years to create a company specializing in empowering the lives of military and veteran families.
Under SMC, Jen developed MilitaryOneClick.com, the leading media brand for military and veteran families. MilitaryOneClick provides daily resources, content, and social media to millions of military and veteran families.
Jen was awarded the SCORE DC Client of the Year, a Count Me In and Capital One Pitch Contest winner for a 9-month Business Accelerator Program, an alumni of the TechStars Patriot Boot Camp Program, a USAA Influencers Conference Speaker, the 2013 Military Spouse of the Year for Joint Base Andrews from Military Spouse Magazine and an alumni of the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur Program.
Jen created “MilspouseFEST” and co-founded the #KeepYourPromise Alliance, a grassroots advocacy campaign that successfully urged Congress to restore Military Retirement benefits. Jen grew up in New Jersey where she graduated from Richard Stockton College and The College of New Jersey with a degree in Speech- Language Pathology. She was previously the Manager of Military Strategy for CafeMom. She currently lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, a pilot in the United States Navy, and two children.
Bill Bann, Marine Corps Veteran
Bill Bann is a StreetShares investor and Marine Corps Veteran. A long time Virginia resident, Bill Bann served 22 years as a Marine Corps infantry officer. Throughout his military career, Bill was stationed and deployed to various locations around the world including Japan, Israel, Lebanon, and Kuwait, where he deployed during the Gulf War. After 22 years of honorable service, Bill retired from the Marine Corps and continued to serve the nation in the Department of Defense and then with The Tauri Group as the Director of Homeland Defense Programs. Passing on this legacy of service, Bill Bann is the proud father to twin boys Brian and David, who are both currently Lieutenant Colonels in the Marine Corps.
Jeff Mueller, Marine Corps Veteran
Major Jeff Mueller is a StreetShares member and joined the Marine Corps after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Jeff spent the next 10 years on active duty, where he flew in F/A-18 Hornets. He completed hundreds of combat missions in Iraq, and ended his tour of active duty teaching at MAWTS-1, the Marine Corps’ version of Top Gun. He then used the GI Bill to attend Columbia Business School, where he was selected as a Tillman Scholar and graduated with Dean's Honors and Distinction. Jeff is now a Partner and Research Analyst at Polen Capital Management and an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. He is also an ambassador to the Travis Manion Foundation, which involves giving speeches about the importance of character to hundreds of high school students each year.
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