Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Here's Why Shark Tank's Daymond John Believes Veterans Make Great Entrepreneurs

By Danny Vena - Feb 27, 2020 at 7:05AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Any budding business owner can benefit from John's advice to vets.

Before Daymond John was a celebrated investor and "the People's Shark" on the Disney (DIS -0.71%)-owned ABC hit reality series Shark Tank, he was an entrepreneur.

Now, the founder and CEO of hip-hop clothing company FUBU is putting his name behind the Heroes to CEOs competition, hosted by Bob Evans Farms, a subsidiary of Post Holdings (POST -1.55%). The contest invites military veterans to pitch their entrepreneurial idea or business. Three finalists will fly to New York City and refine their pitches with John. The winner will be awarded a $30,000 business grant and an additional two-hour mentoring session. The two runners-up will each receive $10,000 grants for their businesses. 

Former U.S. Army Ranger Johnathan Norton was the winner of last year's contest, and used the grant money to ramp up development of functional, life-saving equipment for military, first-responders, and rope-access professionals. 

Three people sitting at a conference room table looking at papers.

Lindsey Norton, Johnathon Norton, and Daymond John. Image source: Bob Evans Farms.

I spoke with John recently about the unique challenges experienced by veteran entrepreneurs and what they bring to the table.

"This is my fourth year working with Bob Evans Farms and their commitment to supporting veteran entrepreneurship," John said. "Over that time, I have learned immensely from the veterans who have participated in this contest and truly feel like I am the winner by being able to work with them and mentor them as they take on the new challenges in their business lives."

A unique set of strengths

John says he believes that veterans bring a lot to the table, a fact that may not be fully appreciated by the business community. "They dedicated their lives to service," John said, "so they come with the perspective of, 'what can I do,' for this customer."

They're also no strangers to hard work, and are tenacious when it comes to completing a task. "They're never going to not finish a task," John said. "There's not [just] one way to complete a task in entrepreneurship and neither is there, I'm sure, when they're on the field serving ... and no matter what, [veterans] never quit." 

"I also think they're problem-solvers," and are willing to seek help if they need it because they realize "they don't know everything, and they know they have to keep trying to figure out ways to solve [problems].

A distinct set of challenges

John said that some veterans are hesitant to mention their service, for fear there's a stigma attached to former members of the military. "I've heard from some of the veterans I've worked with, they didn't want to tell other people that they served their country," John said. "It's heartbreaking ... [they felt] it was more beneficial for them not to tell people."

Veterans also come to the table with a mindset of serving others, John says, but sometimes they need to think a little closer to home. They need to "provide the best they can for their customers, but they [also] have to place themselves and their business first."

Advice for any entrepreneur

Some of John's observations can be helpful to anyone looking to start a business.

One of the things John took away from the veterans he's worked with is the power of networks. "I've also learned that a lot of [veterans] have tapped into their existing base of people that they served with, who know and understand them," he said. "It made me say to myself, 'I also need to tap into the people that I know and go back into my community as well.'"

Another lesson budding entrepreneurs can take from veterans: "They do their research," John said. "They do their homework. They have a plan of action ... They over-educate themselves, so they know that anything that comes up, they're as prepared as they can be in that moment."

Veteran entrepreneurs can sign up for the Heroes to CEOs contest Feb. 18 through March 20 by submitting a video detailing their business plan and demonstrating a solid business concept to OurFarmSalutes.com.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
DIS
$95.92 (-0.71%) $0.69
Post Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
Post Holdings, Inc.
POST
$81.54 (-1.55%) $-1.28

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
332%
 
S&P 500 Returns
115%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.