“Being a combat missile crew commander was the most stressful career field I’ve ever had. We had the keys to the nukes,” said Angela Cody-Rouget. “Our mission was to go down a hole with another crew partner behind two 10 ton steel doors and wait for a message from the President to launch nukes. We got a lot of fake messages and had to decode the cookies to determine if it was an authentic message from the President.”
For 15 years, Angela Cody-Rouget had a highly technical career in the United States Air Force. She started her career in the ROTC at Indiana University. She went through undergraduate base training as a space communication major and became a satellite command controller, where she monitored flying satellites 26,000 miles into space.
“I was on track to becoming a colonel in the United States Air Force, a very high ranking title and prestigious corporate career. My husband called me “Major Mom,” which is where the name of my business came into play,” said Angela.
Transforming a Hobby into a Profession
Angela’s experience in order management in the military was invaluable in translating over to her current business, Major Mom. Major Mom helps families and businesses organize, energize and liberate their homes and offices. She had been doing this for family and friends as a hobby for the longest time. The idea to become a professional organizer didn’t happen overnight.
Eighteen months after her first son was born, she realized that military life, motherhood and corporate life was no longer compatible. She resigned from her commission in the military and quit her corporate career because her husband’s real estate business was going well and she wanted to spend quality time for the first five years of her children’s lives. Six months later, in 2007 the economy crashed and real estate tanked in Denver, Colorado.
Like many families during the recession, Angela’s family was desperate to find some source of income. Having an MBA and being a Major in the US Air Force didn’t seem to matter. In desperation, she went to work as a server in a restaurant.
Then, her husband had the brilliant idea for Angela to pursue professional organizing. “You’re always watching TV shows about organizing and helping friends and family get organized, so why not make it a full-time career?” With so many shifts in her career over the past year, she thought, “I’m making another shift in my career to become an entrepreneur? What?!”
Angela conducted market research and discovered there is a market for professional organizers. She joined the National Association of Professional Organizers and a few years later, she brought on a business partner and hired more than 30 employees. The company is in three states including Colorado, Arizona and has one franchise owner in Ohio.
How Major Mom Pivoted into Major Organizers
Angela was at a pivotal point in expanding her business last year. The military teaches how to set goals and create a plan for a mission. Angela knew she wanted to expand, but wasn’t sure how. That’s when she won the StreetShares Commander’s Call Award. She knew she needed some sort of capital to expand into the franchise model she was seeking. It was going to cost $50,000 to start her franchise, in lawyer and website fees. Angela looked at applying for a loan but was very excited to see she was in the running for the Commander’s Call grant money.
When she got the notification that she was going to be awarded the first Commander’s Call grant from StreetShares, she said she got the chills, “Oh my gosh, somebody believes in us,” she said. After hearing from many people to just stay small and not go into franchising. “It was so powerful to see that someone actually believes in me,” she said.
“It was the boost of confidence I needed to push full speed ahead. I had enough money to pay our franchise consultant, which was exactly $5,000. And we could keep going, one boot in front of another.”
A few months after winning Commander’s Call, Angela appeared on Shark Tank to pitch her company and franchising idea to the Sharks. She was determined to franchise Major Mom and received 185 calls about franchising after the show.
Later that year, Angela turned to StreetShares for a one year term loan to pay the rest of the lawyer fees for her franchise. The rebranded Major Organizers franchise dream was coming true. “It was a completely streamlined and user-friendly process,” she said. “The grant and loan from StreetShares has helped us jump start our expansion model and I’m forever grateful for that.”
Major Organizers has one franchise owner and is in negotiations with more. “We’re restoring order to the world, one household at a time.” Their mission is to be the most well respected brand in the professional organizing business while creating rewarding careers.
Angela Cody-Rouget advises veteran entrepreneurs to apply for every grant and business pitch competition possible and to be in the money receiving mindset. Look for legitimate sources verified by other Veterans, she says. Stay away from lenders who claim same-day lending.
The StreetShares Commander’s Call program has been renamed the Veteran Small Business Award and is now being managed by the newly formed StreetShares Foundation. The Veteran-focused, education-first Foundation is now awarding three Veteran-owned businesses each month with awards at $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000.
StreetShares also offers term loans and lines of credit up to $100,000 to established Veteran small businesses looking to expand their business or for working capital.