FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla – Ten veteran-owned businesses presented their companies to a crowd of investors, corporate leaders, government officials and the community of Fort Walton Beach during the second Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach SWARM! held May 24 at the Fort Walton Beach Civic Auditorium.
The SWARM! was the culminating event of the 12-week business training program hosted by Venture Hive. The Program is focused on recruiting and cultivating veteran and military family owned businesses in sectors closely aligned with Fort Walton Beach’s economic future.
“It is inspiring to see the level of homegrown talent that the Venture Hive Veteran program has developed here,” said Mike Anderson, Mayor of Fort Walton Beach. “It is these veteran owned-businesses that will continue to grow economic future of Fort Walton Beach as we look forward to seeing great things out of this class of graduates and future classes.”
Of the 10 companies that presented at the SWARM! Demo day, seven were local veteran or dependant owned businesses from the Fort Walton Beach area.
The first of these businesses to present was Tami Carr, CEO and Founder of Holy Kidz Camps – a camps and events-on-wheels nonprofit business that focuses on providing families with safe and educational camps and events throughout the year.
Next to present was Clarice Lopez, a military spouse to a 7th Special Forces soldier, presented her company, Decurator. Decurator serves as a complete front to backend software and mobile selling tool for interior designers and furniture stores.
Mike Percy presented next by showcasing his company, Airtime Aircraft’s flagship product – the Cygnet. A personal recreational aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water as well as an additional passenger. Airtime Aircraft not only builds the aircrafts in Fort Walton Beach, but also uses local businesses for additional parts and resources.
With colorful beach props in hand, Samantha St. Raymond presented her innovated beach going solution – the Beachside Table. A patent pending compact portable table ideal for the beach goers of the Emerald Coast.
The next local presenter was Heather Burleson of High Caliber Lady. High Caliber Lady focuses on educating women on both firearms and non-lethal training. While her training courses are open to both men and women, High Caliber Lady looks to empower women through various course offerings.
Michael Veth, a recently retired Air Force Lt. Col. presented next with his company Aerial Autonomy. Aerial Autonomy looks to become the future for drone technology by building software for self piloting drones. According to Veth, the ability for fully autonomous drones can save the safety and inspection industry thousands if not millions of dollars per year.
The final presenter of the evening was Esther Hemphill with Sharing Hands Network. Hemphill was a member of Venture Hive’s first pre-accelerator program in 2015, a program for early stage concept companies. Since then Sharing Hands Network was accepted into the 2016 Accelerator class. Sharing Hands Network works as a mobile device enabled platform for at-risk or needs based services or agencies to provide a one-stop solution to those in need.
The Fort Walton Beach Venture Hive was created by a private-public partnership between Venture Hive and the City of Fort Walton Beach in 2015. Together, Venture Hive and Fort Walton Beach have created a new home for the veteran entrepreneurship movement that is unique not just in the region but as part of a national constellation of veteran business training programs. The partnership is now connecting veterans with innovative, scalable businesses to the resources and support they need to grow on a global scale.