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November 11 is Veterans Day. It is an annual United States holiday honouring military veterans. This Day is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

To mark this Day, we bring to you five innovative businesses launched by the Veterans.

Prospect Equities
In 1999, at age 25, U.S. Army veteran and Southern Illinois University graduate Rich Killian started his business career. Not finding work as a Civil Engineer, he started selling Real Estate during the week, worked in demolition as a labourer on weekends, and attended night school for his MBA at Roosevelt University in Chicago. In 2000, he incorporated his first company, Prospect Equities and has been a successful entrepreneur since then averaging an acquisition or formation of two companies per year and now controls over 20 companies and corporations. Rich founded The Hardship Home Foundation, a public charity which assists people in keeping their homes. Today, Rich Killian is Chairman of the Board for ICH and its 23 companies which produce over $1/2 million in annual sales.

Veteran Franchise Centers
Veteran Franchise Centers – a business by Veterans, for Veterans, about Veterans – was co-founded in 2010 by Drew Myers, a Marine veteran and the founder of RecruitMilitary, and Lonnie Helgerson, an Army veteran and noted franchising pioneer. The company, founded and operated by veterans, provides free matching services to veterans seeking franchise business opportunities.Veteran Franchise Centers is an affiliate company of RecruitMilitary, LLC, headquartered at Loveland, Ohio. It provides free guidance to veterans and military families entering into franchise opportunities available through the International Franchise Association VetFran program and other viable channels.In late 2010, Veteran Franchise Centers launched nationally seeking franchised offices throughout the United States. All Veteran Franchise Centers offices are veteran-operated; providing veteran-to-veteran business counselling. In addition, Veteran Franchise Centers maintains strategic partnerships with financial institutions, banks, and other supplier entities that can provide special veteran financing options and business programs.”We are expanding through franchising ourselves and now have five offices in four states. We have assisted many veterans in starting franchises,” says Lonnie Helgerson.

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Ears Of Experience, LLC
Ears of Experience, LLC is a family run Disney Travel Company, and a current member of National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA).While Jon, a veteran and reserve pilot, manages the website, Disney legal compliance, and business licensing, his wife Amy Sinclair runs the day-to-day business (booking, customer service, planning, dining, etc).Set up from home in 2009, Amy was looking for something she could do from home, since Jon was an Air Force Reservist (prior active duty, if she needs that too) and gone a lot. Amy had experience as an executive in the cruise industry and was very familiar with the Disney product. After planning many family vacations to Disney, she knew how much time and research it took to make sure the vacation ran smoothly. Since most people don’t have that kind of time, she decided to start a company that would help them, and Jon joined hands.The company provides its clients with the ultimate Disney experience, customized to their specific likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. It books vacations to all Disney destinations: Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Lines, and Adventures by Disney.Ears Of Experience is a current member of the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.

Engineering Services Inc. (ESN)
Raymond F. Lopez Jr., the 29-year Navy veteran, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Engineering Services Inc. He has seen his company’s revenues rise from $21 million in 2006 to over $36 million today. Proving something to himself means not only being a successful businessman, but also having the ability to help other business grow much like Anteon did for him. Raymond F. Lopez, Jr. (63) has served the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1994, Commander (O-5).Founded in 1995, ESN is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company and is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia with regional and field offices throughout the U.S. and in Japan. “A leading engineering and technology company, we apply our depth of customer knowledge and technological and management competencies to deliver trusted solutions to the U.S. government. Our customers include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, Military Sealift Command, the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other federal government agencies,” says Raymond.For more than a decade, the company has been providing its military and government customers with mission-critical services in the areas of engineering and technical support; strategic and program management; testing and evaluation; operations support; and information technology.

ElliptiGO Inc.
Bryan Pate, Co-Founder and Co-President of ElliptiGo Inc. has served as an infantry and intelligence officer in the US Marines from 1995 through 1999. In 2005, he lost the ability to run for fitness because of hip and knee injuries, so he started working with a friend on a low-impact fitness device that would let him experience running again. They have spent the last six years developing and refining that device, now called the ElliptiGO. “We got the idea to build the ElliptiGO really out of necessity. We started selling them last year and have generated more than $4 million in revenues and have a company with 13 employees now,” says Bryan.

Do you know any veterans who have started a business? If so, what business?

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