Haynie is a military veteran himself, and came to Syracuse University as an entrepreneurship professor. Shortly after arriving at the school, he created the bootcamp to bring veterans who have a desire to become business owners to the campus and provide them with the “tools, training and resources to go out and actually make that happen,” he said.
The program began in 2007 and has grown every year, Haynie said.
“One of the things we did not expect was we had other universities from around the country take notice of the bootcamp, so we started expanding the bootcamp through partnerships with other schools.”
The program is centrally managed in Syracuse, but there are eight partner universities around the country that operate the bootcamp today, and since 2007, approximately 700 veterans have gone through the program.
On May 12, “60 Minutes” aired a segment about the EBV. A team began working on the story in the spring of last year, filmed at Syracuse University last summer during the program and then followed a group of the program’s veterans to document the work they were doing to launch and grow their businesses.
“They should have prepared us with a crisis response team,” Haynie said, as the EBV received “quite literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails and phone calls” after the segment aired.
With so many veterans now experiencing success after completing the EBV program, Haynie said the selection process for the Richard L. Haydon Veteran-Entrepreneur of the Year Award requires a lot of thought, and the criteria is two-fold. While EBV wants to recognize business success in traditional ways — for sustained growth in revenue and profit, for example — more than that, the award goes to a role model for the new bootcamp class, Haynie said.
“We give this award out at the very opening dinner of the bootcamp, and we do that very purposefully,” he said. “We want to put up there, in front of the vets who are just starting this journey, exemplars. So we want to make sure that it’s not just about numbers … but it’s also about somebody who has demonstrated the moral, ethical and social set of values that we ascribe to being important in entrepreneurship.”