Lt. Marlon Terrell is a member of the U.S. Navy and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Maryland. In May 2011, Marlon and his business partner, Avery Robinson, came up with a solution to many frustrations they were both experiencing as they were starting to get their own businesses off the ground.
Marlon and Avery discovered that there were many veterans who were interested in starting their own businesses, but when it was time for them to pursue their dreams, they often lacked the necessary funding and/or the appropriate channels to connect to capital sources. The duo founded RepayVets, LLC in order to fund more veterans’ dreams.
RepayVets is an online funding platform for military veterans. Every week, amazing people pledge to help military veterans live out their dreams in a variety of business ventures. Research shows that when a veteran-owned business flourishes, its community is stronger as well.
MO: Where did the inspiration for Repay Vets come from?
Lt. Terrell: Our inspiration to create this platform was predominately driven by our affiliation & admiration of military veterans and a true desire to help them achieve their goals. In addition we were further driven by the knowledge that we are using proven, albeit newly accepted model in crowdfunding, with enormous potential for growth. The result is a nice marriage between our personal passion and our generation’s innovation.
MO: What previous experiences have you and your partner had that has prepared you to start this venture?
Lt: Terrell: We’ve known each other well since junior high school and have been through quite a bit together since then. This has created a strong bond where we both know we can rely on each other, which is vital for a successful partnership. We have both held leadership roles and are passionate about our business idea and being successful. The rest takes care of itself.
MO: Why do you think veterans are the perfect niche to help fund?
Lt. Terrell: Veterans possess inherent skills and traits that are a natural fit for the entrepreneurial world. The discipline, attention to detail and leadership skills that the military demands are fully transferable fully transferrable to the private sector, so we believe veterans are well poised to be successful. We also like the niche as we believe that veterans are underserved with opportunities when you consider the sacrifices that they’ve made, so they are well deserved to have their own niche crowdfunding platform.
MO: What obstacles have you had to overcome since you have started Repay Vets?
Lt. Terrell: We’ve had to overcome several obstacles, but our biggest was probably just gaining the confidence to officially launch our site. We reached a stage where we were trying to make it perfect in our eyes, forgetting that our customer’s feedback is ultimately what determines what is “perfect”.
MO: What are you goals for the company in the next year?
Lt. Terrell: Our company goals over the next year are to increase the awareness of the platform as well as further identify partnership opportunities that will be mutually beneficial. The feedback that we have received thus far has been overwhelmingly positive, which is encouraging. This has not only come from those who could be potential customers, but also from those who are involved with other organizations that benefit veterans and would like to collaborate with RepayVets. We view this as a viable way to accelerate our efforts.
MO: What advice do you have for veterans out there who are interested in starting their own business?
Lt. Terrell: Avoid getting caught up in paralysis by analysis. It can easily become overwhelming thinking about everything that establishing and running a successful business entails all at once. Break down your ultimate goal into sub-goals that can be achieved in stages. This make the task at hand seem less daunting and will also aid you in having a logical approach to success.
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