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The Resource Center for Veteran Small Businesses

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Marines Can Do Anything: The MN8 Foxfire® Story
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 29, 2015

“I remember hitting my rock bottom in basic training. At that moment, I made a decision that nobody was ever going to tell me I couldn’t do something.”

September 11 deeply affected our country, but for Zachary Green, Founder and CEO of MN8 Foxfire®, it was the inspiration for creating his business. Foxfire is a company that sells photoluminescent products—glow-in-the-dark exit signs and firefighter equipment—to keep firefighters safe by providing dependable visibility in dangerous situations.

Like many entrepreneurs with military experience, Zach can attribute his greatest lessons in business ownership to his time in the Marine Corps.

Lesson 1: Push through the opposition
As a kid, Zach dreamed of becoming a Marine. When he shared his dream with his family of lawyers and musicians, they were anything but thrilled. Hot-headed, young and proud, Zach left for training at Parris Island anyway.

Zach struggled in basic training. Everyone in the military starts out even, regardless of background. That was debilitating and tough for Zach—he wasn’t as good as he thought. It also didn’t help that his drill sergeants were honing in on him and breaking him down.

“They kept saying, ‘You’re not going to make it. You suck. You’re no good. You’re a sissy’,” Zach recalls. “I hit rock bottom and made a decision that nobody in my life was ever going to tell me I wasn’t good enough. Nobody was ever going to tell me I couldn’t do something.”

His military training taught him a tenacity for pushing through any opposition. Zach ended up graduating at a decent position in the class.

Lesson 2: Devotion to the brotherhood

When Zach met his wife, he left the military. A couple years went by and he missed the thrill, adventure and action of being in the field. Zach figured the next best option was to join the volunteer fire department.

“What pushed me to join was the brotherhood," Zach said. “There’s something about when you serve in combat with people—when you suffer and you bleed and you sweat together—that incredible bond that most people don’t understand.”

That devotion to the brotherhood, coupled with his remembrance of 9/11, inspired Zach to use the photoluminescent technology he had recently discovered and channel it into creating products that kept his fellow firefighters safe. MN8 Foxfire was founded in 2010.

Foxfire’s motto is by firefighters for firefighters and those we protect.

“When I get an email from a firefighter that says, ‘a little while back I was in a situation that if that glow-in-the-dark technology hadn’t been there, I may not have survived—your product made all the difference in the world.’ Those stories are the inspiration for what we do,” Zach said.

Lesson 3: Accomplishing the mission over troop welfare
Challenges abound in small business, as Foxfire experiences daily. The greatest one for the team is marketing a product that’s never previously existed.

“We’re not just out there selling photoluminescent exit signs and helmet accessories,” Zach said. “We’re educating people why they should change from traditional exit signs. That’s challenging.”

Driving a company forward comes with personal challenges as well. Zach had an epiphany a while back that he was holding the company back because he had exceeded his “span of control." In the military, accomplishing the mission comes before personal and troop welfare—even if you die, the mission has to move forward. So Zach stepped down from his role as president and hired an experienced Chief Operating Officer.

“Stepping down was the best decision I made,” he said. As CEO, Zach can now focus on selling his product and educating firefighters.

Lesson 4: Marines can do anything
When Zach left his corporate job to found Foxfire, his boss told him, “You’re making a mistake. This is not going to work out. Startup companies fail. You could fail.”

Zach would not be dissuaded. He knew he had more to offer and that a firefighter and Marine could do anything he put his mind to. Five years ago, Foxfire was just an idea. Today, the company has more than 60,000 firefighters using the product in 25 countries.

One of the proudest moments of Zach’s career happened a few of months ago: There was an update on the national news about a window washer that was stranded outside of the 80-somethingth floor of the World Trade Center Towers. The New York City Fire Department was up there rescuing him and you could see the Foxfire products on their helmets.

“This was so impactful because the FDNY is the largest and most prestigious fire department in the country—and the heroes of 9/11,” Zach said. “To see them on the World Trade Center Towers using my products to help each other be safer—that was so inspiring.”

To learn more about MN8 Foxfire®, visit their website at www.mn8foxfire.com.

© 2015, StreetShares Inc. All rights reserved.

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Harvard Business School Names StreetShares "Best Investment" in International Competition
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 23, 2015

StreetShares Announces Plan to Use $25,000 Award to Support Veteran-Owned Businesses

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3 Ways to Save on Small Business Taxes
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 15, 2015

Did you know that if you went “green”, hired a veteran, or started a company this year you might be eligible for three important but little known tax deductions?**

With tax season rapidly coming to a close, many of you are scurrying to finish your taxes amidst the everyday bustle of your small business. Small tax deductions take a little extra work, but your savings can really add up. Every dollar counts. We’ve compiled some resources of available credits and deductions your business may qualify for:

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StreetShares Wins "Best Investment" Award in Harvard Business School Competition
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 13, 2015

We are thrilled to announce that StreetShares won the Best Investment award in the Harvard Business School (HBS) New Venture Competition, as chosen by a panel of global judges! You, our HBS alumni and student voters, were instrumental in spreading the word about StreetShares and bringing in those votes. Thank you! This is a big win not only for our team, but also for our military veterans whose businesses we are proud to fund.

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StreetShares Appoints Chief Credit Officer and Vice President of Product Technology
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 9, 2015

Fast Growing Peer-to-Peer Lending Company Strengthens Resources

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StreetShares Announces "Commander's Call" Award For Veteran-Owned Businesses
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 7, 2015

Originally published April 7 on PR Newswire

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March Winner: Major Mom®
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 1, 2015

Entrepreneurship is about creating financial freedom, and we want to help our fellow veterans make it happen! That’s why we created the StreetShares Commander’s Call Veteran Business Award.

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Operation StreetShares: Help us win the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on April 1, 2015

Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni named StreetShares the Most Innovative startup in the Mid-Atlantic. We made the final round in the 2015 New Venture Competition and are in the running with 14 startups from around the world. Now through April 10th, voting is open to all HBS alumni and students. We need your vote!

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[video] Why We Chose StreetShares
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on March 31, 2015

At StreetShares, we are constantly amazed at the stories of our borrowers. We love to hear about how they got where they are and what inspires them in their work. Lorenzo Downing of Spartan Business + Technology is no exception. His story has been told previously on The Lamp Post, but we are excited now to share with you his experience as a small business loan borrower on StreetShares. Check out his borrower testimonial video below:

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3 Business Lessons from a Veteran
| StreetShares Blog

By StreetShares on March 24, 2015

“If you have a vision, there is nobody stopping you from pushing forward—you can take the vision as far as you wish to go.”

 Randy J. Bator, CEO of Security 360, likes the challenge of small business ownership. He has complete control and 100% responsibility for his business—for which his years of military training and security engineering prepared him well.

Security 360 is a veteran-owned IT security, network, and systems staffing agency that launched in 2012. Randy was, at the time, the sole proprietor. Randy took on the challenge of running a business by himself. Randy had nothing to lean on aside from his own knowledge and experience. Looking back, Randy is thankful for a life and career that has taught him important lessons.

Here’s what he learned:

Lesson One: think tactically, plan strategically

Randy’s career in cyber security began during his service in the Air Force. He was in military intelligence, where he gained valuable experience that translated well into tackling challenges in cybersecurity. When Randy left the military, he became a full time security engineer. Randy spent the next five years doing defense work for the government as a federal contractor. This was a critical in preparing him to handle business contracts. In 2007, Randy ended up at Lockheed Martin as a senior information assurance engineer.

His approach to his career is focused on long-term goals—planning tactically and executing tasks in a modular fashion, piece by piece, in order to get any project running. The military was responsible for instilling that kind of method, which has ultimately led to success.


Lesson Two: deal in trust

Randy believes the way people approach their work is a mixture of skills and instincts that are instilled in them early on by their mentors. Randy’s grandfather was his primary male figure growing up. His influence shaped the way Randy thought, analyzed, and treated others. It was from him that Randy learned the principles of dignity and respect for all people, effective communication, and striving to be a consensus builder. Those principles are still present in the way Randy carries himself and runs his business.

Randy also had the good fortune of having great supervisors in the military and private business sector. Randy strove to emulate their character, especially in the way they encouraged him professionally. They gave him their absolute trust and the latitude to do whatever was needed to complete the task. The more trust they gave, the more he would accomplish for them. His management philosophy now reflects that same model.


Lesson Three: take a holistic approach

Owning his own business had always been in the back of Randy’s mind. He worked to align his skillset and knowledge base, making the most of the opportunities he had. When contracting work in his field of expertise came along, Security 360 was born.

Randy’s approach to security is holistic, and he chose a name to match that vision. Randy’s number one goal is 100% satisfaction. He helps them define their own vision for security. His approach is to give them the best information throughout a project, while serving as an ongoing resource and knowledge base for future challenges. For Randy, projects are not about starts and finishes, but rather an ongoing process of providing quality security service for his clients to accelerate their growth.

Randy currently has four employees covering several different aspects of cyber-security solutions. His vision down the road is to expand into other areas, such as security products. The cyber security landscape is constantly changing—Randy’s desire is to continue to fill in the gaps where security is vitally needed.

Randy used his loan from StreetShares to fill staffing positions for security contract opportunities.

To learn more about Security 360, visit www.security360llc.com.

© 2015, StreetShares Inc. All rights reserved.

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