Tomorrow we celebrate the Fourth of July, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As we prepare for family reunions, barbecues and cook outs around the country, let’s also remember the reason for this special holiday. The Thirteen Colonies were legally separated from Great Britain after the American Revolution and the United States of America was founded.
This was the beginning of recognizing our veterans for their service and sacrifice for our country. Let’s recognize the men and women who have served our country since the American Revolution. We honor veterans every day as they’re also the ones who are growing the U.S. economy through small business. At StreetShares, we're the go-to financing partner for veteran small business owners looking to grow their businesses with business loans, lines of credit or government contract financing. This week’s Highlighting Our Heroes include veterans from industries such as energy, education, consumer goods and online communities connecting veterans through marketplaces, business and real estate.
Learn more about each hero below and on iHeart Radio’s BIG 100 local Washington, DC radio station or stream online at 5:00pm eastern every week day. Inspired by these stories and want to help veteran businesses? Start investing in them by opening a Veteran Business Bonds account and earn 5% interest. Learn more here.
Melanie Avery, Army Veteran
Melanie Avery is a StreetShares Foundation award finalist and a leader with more than 13 years of experience in the fields of project management, change management, IT, business strategy, and public policy. Melanie serves as the Director of Philanthropy and Public Affairs for Veterans On the Rise a non-profit, a 501(c)3 providing housing and holistic services to homeless veterans and veteran families in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Melanie is also a small business owner. Melanie served in the U.S. Military as a broadcast and print journalist. She also worked as a communications manager at the Department of Energy. Melanie is very interested in issues impacting energy, national security and education. She is a youth and young adult mentor, author, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Melanie is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She earned a BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Maryland Smith School of Business and is an active member of the alumni associations. In 2014, she received an executive certificate from Georgetown University as well as a certificate from Princeton.
Colin Supko, Navy Veteran
Commander Colin Supko is StreetShares Foundation award finalist and a native of Nevada and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Colin served as a SEAL Officer for 18 years to include three combat tours in the Middle East. He is currently the Commanding Officer for all west coast reserve SEALS at SEAL Team 17. Colin earned a Masters in Global Business Leadership from the University of San Diego and a Masters in Business Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Colin was awarded the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation with Valor and is a two-time Startup founder. Colin's most recent venture, "PATRIOTLIST.US” – is the safest online hyperlocal peer-to-peer market for verified members of the military, veterans and their families.
Melissa Washington, Navy Veteran
Melissa Washington is a StreetShares Foundation award winner. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business management and has more than 10 successful years of experience in recruiting and human resources. She also proudly supported her husband’s 21 years of active duty service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Melissa is the President and Founder of Women Veterans Alliance. As a service-connected disabled veteran, small business owner, speaker, author and award winner. She is passionate about connecting women veterans across the nation. She has been featured in newspaper articles, on TV and the radio. Melissa’s book, Get Back to Work: Smart & Savvy Real-World Strategies to Make Your Next Career Move was published in 2014. She created and launched the Women Veterans Alliance Unconference, a 3-day conference celebrating and connecting women veterans from across the nation.
Arron Barnes, Army Veteran
Arron is a StreetShares Foundation award nominee. He's an army veteran and entrepreneur who knows a few things about turning adversity into opportunity.
After being diagnosed with candida, a type of yeast infection in the gut that thrives on sugar, Barnes turned to raw almond butter to help curb his cravings for sweets — and that, too, turned into a business. In June 2016, his company Life Butta was born.
He now makes three flavors — original, matcha green tea and turmeric and black pepper, which include healthy doses of superfoods such as chia, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds, along with a touch of coconut sugar and sea salt.
Arron’s product has found modest success, online at www.lifebutta.com as well as in four retail locations: two Chuck’s Produce shops in Vancouver and two New Seasons Market locations (one in Vancouver and one in Portland).
Arron also participated in the veteran entrepreneur incubator, Bunker Labs in Seattle, which helped him with a jump start Life Butta.
Ken and Heidi Robbins, Army Veteran and Spouse
Ken and Heidi, StreetShares members who were driven to continue serving the country as small business owners. Ken Robbins started his career as an entrepreneur in 2015, the day after he officially retired from the Army, and radically change the way military families move.
MILLIE came from the idea that veterans and military spouses are uniquely qualified with their experience in both the military and in real estate to serve fellow veterans and military members. Heidi became a top real estate agent in the Norther Virginia area. In Fact, 75 percent of her clients were veterans and active military. Because of her experience as a military spouse, her clients trusted her because she had been in their shoes.
Today MILLIE has grown to provide three crucial services to PCS’ing military families: Installation Guides, Scouts and AgentHeroes. Through these three pillars of the organization, Ken and his team at MILLIE are able to make his vision a reality: to ease the PCS process for military families through a trusted network of military spouse and veteran professionals.
Ken Robbins is the co-founder and CEO of MILLIE and a West Point Graduate who retired from the Army as the speech writer for the Chief of Staff of the Army.
Heidi Robbins is a real estate agent with Buck & Associates and a member of the AgentHero network. She was recently named a Northern Virginia MagazineTop Real Estate Agent for 2017. She's a 3-year Multi-Million Top Producer for the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®, was Rookie of the Year in 2014, a President’s Circle Achiever.
Support Veteran Small Business through Veteran Business Bonds
StreetShares has developed a way for everyone to support veteran-owned businesses like the ones above. Through the Veteran Business Bonds 5% fixed interest investment bond, anyone can put funds in their accounts that go to work directly funding veteran-owned businesses through our business loans, lines of credit and government contract financing. For a limited time, we’ll give you up to $1,000 on your investment. Click here to learn more.
*Veteran Business Bonds are a non-deposit investment product, which are not guaranteed, nor are they FDIC insured. Veteran Business Bonds may lose value. StreetShares is not a bank and Veteran Business Bonds are not a deposit product. See Offering Statementand related SEC Filing Documents. Early withdrawals are charged a 1% fee.