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Episode 197: The Challenges of Becoming a Veteran Entrepreneur; Myths, Hacks, Tips, and Resources to Win with Joe Giordano – The Ambitions Vet Show 

In this episode, Joe Giordano, retired Army Master Sergeant and founder of Project Opportunity- a free ten-week entrepreneurship training program for veterans based in Salisbury, Maryland shares the challenges to overcome to become a successful veteran entrepreneur. In a world where entrepreneurship is COOL, to be a true success it goes deeper than just an idea. We discuss things like, business plans and the components of them i.e. market research, financial modeling, SWOT analysis, and competitor analysis. Along with how to test your assumptions of product market fit and forecasted revenue growth and fundraising.

By the end of this one Ambitious VET, you will understand what it takes to be a TRUE veteran entrepreneur and why it’s important to take programs like Project Opportunity to ensure you aren’t wasting your time or resources on a pathway with no GOLD at the end of the tunnel!

SALISBURY, Md., December 13, 2021 – On November 18, 2021 Project Opportunity conducted its Second Annual Business Pitch Competition for graduates of our program. We are pleased to announce the winners of the competition:


Start Up Category:

  • Broderick Neel-Feller, Founder Jammin’ Together and Baltimore Fall 2020 Class Graduate – $2500.00 Award
  • Michael Wilson, Founder/CEOL MP Fitness and Prince George’s Fall 2020 Class Graduate – $1500.00 Award

Established Business Category:

  • Toni Tomlin, DOE Faith to Felicity LLC and Prince George’s Spring 2021 Class Graduate – $10.000.00 Award
  • Jesse Sieff, Founder Sieff Studios and Howard County Spring 2021 Class Graduate – $5000.00 Award

Non Profit Category

  • Patricia Wells, COE WeModel USA NWECalre, Inc. and Prince George’s Spring 2021 Class Graduate – $4000.00 Award
  • Katie Kilby, Founder Reveille Grounds and Military Spouse Spring 2020 Class Graduate – $2000.00 Award

We would like to acknowledge and thank the Business Pitch Competition Judges:

  • Carlene Cassidy – CEO Philip and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.
  • Ryan Del Gallo – Business Consultant, Maryland Small Business Development Center, Northern Region.
  • Tim Wilson – Manager, TEDCO Builder Fund.
  • Tiffany Davis – Owner, Washington Accounting Services, Inc., and Project Opportunity Facilitator for Southern Maryland and Prince George’s County.
  • Joel C. Bakal, Chief Financial office, H&M Wagner and Sons Foodservice 

Project Opportunity has formed an Educational Partnership with Pitch Creator to provide the Pitch Creator Foundation Course to program graduates to assist them in preparing for the Project Opportunity Annual Business Pitch Competition.  Business pitch participants were provided the Pitch Creator Foundation Course at no charge along with eight (8) hours of individual coaching/mentoring by our facilitators.  Special thanks to our Business Pitch Coaches:

  • Brenda Dilts, Owner Next Step LLC and Senior Project Opportunity Facilitator for Anne Arundel and Howard Counties.
  • Patricia Newby, President Strategic Business Partnership and Project Opportunity Precentor for classes in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, and Howard Counties.
  • Warline Bryant, Chief Executive Officer, BHL Group, LLC. and Project Opportunity Facilitator for Harford County

Funding for the Business Pitch Competition was provided by the  Philip E and Carol R Ratcliffe Foundation. The Ratcliffe Foundation is based in Annapolis Maryland and operates as a charitable organization designed to encourage and reward entrepreneurship, create jobs and expand economic opportunities.

To learn more, visit the Ratcliffe Foundation at https://www.ratcliffefoundation.com/

Hosted by the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs

When: November 5th, 2021 at 10:00 AM.

Where: Zoom

Guest: Joe Giordano, Founder of Project Opportunity

ATTENTION VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS!

Veterans and military spouses have access to free training, coaching and support in pursuit of owning and operating a successful small business.

Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program designed solely for veterans (Active Duty, Guard/Reserve Personnel, and Veterans) who want to start their own business or expand their current small business. Program graduates are in various stages of their business ventures, ranging from finalizing their business plan to actual launch and earning income. They have successfully conducted this program for over 250 veterans all of which are currently pursuing their dream of owning a small business. Military spouses are welcome, too!

What you need to know:

  • This is a quick overview; we promise to keep it under 1 hour.
  • There is no cost to attend; advance registration is required.
  • This session will be recorded; by registering, you are consenting to be recorded.
  • Upon receiving a registration confirmation, you will be given a unique link to join the event.

SALISBURY, Md., April 1, 2021 – Project Opportunity, an entrepreneurship training program for active-duty military, reserve personnel, and veterans who reside or are stationed in Maryland, announced today that it has formed an Entrepreneurial Partnership with Chow Corp. (“Chow”) to provide vocational and business formation / planning education to participants in Chow’s Food Truck Fellowship.

“Project Opportunity is excited to begin working with Chow Corp. to afford those veterans and military spouses enrolled in their program business plan preparation and business planning tools and resources said Joe Giordano, Retired US Army Master Sergeant and Founder of Project Opportunity”.

“Chow partnered with Project Opportunity because it is the perfect capstone for our Food Truck Fellowship. Chow is rethinking vocational training. Our Fellows are on a track to become business owners in the culinary industry. With Project Opportunity’s help, it is only a matter of time before a Chow Fellow becomes a James Beard Award winner,” said Jordan Foley, Founder and CEO of Chow and active-duty Navy Officer.

Chow has partnered with Project Opportunity, a free entrepreneurship training program designed for veterans, active duty, reserve personnel, and military spouses who want to start their own business or expand their current small business. Chow’s Fellows will concurrently and after completion of the Food Truck Training Program enroll in Project Opportunity. Chow offers the vocational culinary experience and Project Opportunity provides the business skills. This partnership is a major step in preparing Chow’s Fellows for successful business ownership in the culinary industry!


About Project Opportunity

Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program for active military and veterans who want to start their own businesses. The ten-week (30 hour) intensive course is designed to prepare veterans to research and complete a business plan. Founded on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2010, Project Opportunity has since expanded to Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. Contributions from county economic development authorities, local banks, fraternal organizations and private foundations help ensure that the classes are free to veteran participants. To learn more, visit www.project-opportunity.com.

SALISBURY, Md., February 1, 2021 – On January 21, 2021 Project Opportunity conducted its initial Business Pitch Competition for graduates of our program.  We are pleased to announce the winners of the competition:

  • Adrienne Sommerville, CEO Talent and Technical Solutions Corporation and Southern Maryland Fall 2019 Class Graduate – $8000.00 Award
  • Kristen Earp, Owner Kristen Earp, LLC, and Military Spouse Fall 2020 Class Graduate – $5500.00 Award
  • Vanessa Kadiri, Owner Kleanliness Services, LLC and Anne Arundel Spring 2019 Class Graduate – $5000.00 Award
  • Tiffany Daniel, Founder CTLDom Group, Inc. and Southern Maryland Fall 2017 Class Graduate – $1500.00 Award

We would like to acknowledge and thank the Business Pitch Competition Judges:

  • Carlene Cassidy – CEO Philip and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.
  • Candace Pruett – Business Consultant, Maryland Small Business Development Center, Corridor Region.
  • Wynne Briscoe – Regional Director, Maryland Small Business Development Center, Southern Region.
  • Tim Wilson – Manager, TEDCO Builder Fund.
  • Tiffany Davis – Owner, Washington Accounting Services, Inc., and Project Opportunity Facilitator for Southern Maryland and Prince George’s County.

Project Opportunity has formed an Educational Partnership with Pitch Creator to provide the Pitch Creator Foundation Course to program graduates to assist them in preparing for the Project Opportunity Annual Business Pitch Competition.  Business pitch participants were provided the Pitch Creator Foundation Course at no charge along with three (3) hours of individual coaching/mentoring by our facilitators.  Special thanks to our Business Pitch Coaches:

  • Brenda Dilts, Owner Next Step LLC and Senior Project Opportunity Facilitator for Anne Arundel and Howard Counties.
  • Patricia Newby, President Strategic Business Partnership and Project Opportunity Precentor for classes in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, and Howard Counties.

Funding for the Business Pitch Competition was provided by the  Philip E and Carol R Ratcliffe Foundation. The Ratcliffe Foundation is based in Annapolis Maryland and operates as a charitable organization designed to encourage and reward entrepreneurship, create jobs and expand economic opportunities.

To learn more, visit the Ratcliffe Foundation at https://www.ratcliffefoundation.com/

Project Opportunity - Logo

TowerCares Foundation

SALISBURY, Md., December 14, 2020 – Project Opportunity, an entrepreneurship training program for active duty military, reserve personnel, and veterans who reside or are stationed in Maryland, announced today that it has received a grant from the TowerCares Foundation to support classes scheduled for the Spring of 2021.

“Funding for Project Opportunity is key to our success in supporting military personnel transitioning to the business world as they learn what it takes to start their own businesses,” said Army Master Sgt. (retired) and founder of Project Opportunity, Joe Giordano. “We are very grateful to TowerCares Foundation for their continued support and generous grant to help us provide our free course of instruction.”

Established in 2010, Project Opportunity has graduated more than 300 military personnel and veterans from classes held throughout Maryland.


About Project Opportunity

Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program for active duty military and reserve personnel and veterans who want to start their own businesses or expand a current small business. The ten-week (30 hour) intensive course is designed to prepare veterans to research and complete a business plan. Founded on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2010, Project Opportunity has since expanded to Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. Contributions from county economic development authorities, local banks, fraternal organizations and private foundations help ensure that the classes are free to veteran participants.

Project Opportunity - Logo

Pitch Creator

SALISBURY, Md., November 17, 2020 – Project Opportunity, an entrepreneurship training program for active duty military, reserve personnel, and veterans who reside or are stationed in Maryland, announced today that it has formed an Educational Partnership with Pitch Creator to provide the Pitch Creator Foundation Course to program graduates to assist them in preparing for the Project Opportunity Annual Business Pitch Competition

“This partnership with Pitch Creator will allow our graduates the opportunity to enroll in and complete the Pitch Creator Foundation Course which will help them learn how to communicate with investors and raise capital,” said Army Master Sergeant (Retired) and Founder of Project Opportunity Joe Giordano.

“Project Opportunity graduates who wish to compete in the Project Opportunity Business Pitch Competition will be able to utilize the Pitch Creator Foundation Course in conjunction with three (3) hours of individual coaching/mentoring by our facilitators and selected subject matter experts to develop their business deck and pitch “Giordano stated.

“We believe business pitch competitions are an opportunity for experiential learning that is important for entrepreneurs and are honored to be part of the amazing work that Project Opportunity is doing with active-duty military and reserve personnel, and veterans, throughout Maryland,” said Jason Tagler, Founder of Pitch Creator.


About Project Opportunity

Established 2010, Project Opportunity has graduated more than 300 military personnel, veterans, and military spouses  from classes held throughout Maryland.

Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program for active duty military and reserve personnel and veterans who want to start their own businesses or expand a current small business. The ten-week (30 hour) intensive course is designed to prepare veterans to research and complete a business plan. Founded on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2010, Project Opportunity has since expanded to Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and Harford County.  Contributions from county economic development authorities, local banks, fraternal organizations and private foundations help ensure that the classes are free to veteran participants. To learn more, visit www.project-opportunity.com.

About Pitch Creator

Pitch Creator’s mission is to help create jobs in geographic areas that need them the most by teaching entrepreneurs how to communicate with investors and raise growth capital for their businesses. We do that through our “education platform,” which is a combination of our website, free resources, online courses, presentations, workshops, and related services.

Pitch Creator is a social impact organization and our financial goal is to be cashflow break even (zero profit) each year. Please see our About page to learn more.

Project Opportunity - Logo

The Kahlert Foundatino

Project Opportunity was awarded a grant in the amount of $15,000.00 from the Kahlert Foundation to support our Howard County and Harford County Spring 2021 Classes.

“We are very grateful to the Kahlert Foundation for their generous grant and continued support so that we may continue to offer this program at no cost to those veterans and military personnel selected to participate. The commitment of the Kahlert Foundation to supporting veterans is a great part of the continued success of Project Opportunity.”,  said Army Master Sergeant. (retired) and founder of Project Opportunity, Joe Giordano.

Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program which has been designed solely for veterans, active duty, and reserve personnel who want to start a small business. The prerequisite for those who wish to be considered to participate is they must have a solid idea of what business venture they want to start because the course is designed to develop and complete a comprehensive business plan instead of exploring the possibility of entrepreneurship. The program is a 10 week (30 hour) intensive cohort style course designed to prepare participants to research and complete a business plan.

The program also accepts veterans who have a small business and are looking to expand. The prerequisite for these candidates is they must demonstrate the need to expand their marketing efforts or the need to review and revise their financial plan.

Project Opportunity was awarded the Veteran Small Business Champion Award by the SBA Baltimore District Office in 2014. It provides veterans an alternative to traditional employment and offers them a chance to hone and utilize the skills and training they received while on active duty.

Project Opportunity has had a total of 90 businesses registered with the Maryland Department of Business and Taxation creating a total of 225 jobs.

Project Opportunity - Logo

You can find the original newsletter at: https://techportsomd.org/newsletter-display/September 2020

With the unemployment rate among veterans in Maryland hovering between 14 and 18 percent in 2010, Joe Giordano decided to do something about it. He understands how tough the transition from military life to civilian life can be. Sometimes traditional employment just isn’t the right fit after leaving the service.

A retired master sergeant with 20 years in the U.S. Army and 17 years as owner of Consulting, Training and Development Services, Giordano wanted to tackle the challenges of unemployment among veterans and introduce them to the possibility of starting their own veteran-owned small business, like he did. He founded Project Opportunity, a free entrepreneurship training program designed solely for veterans, active duty or reserve personnel who want to start or expand their own business.

Since then, some 270 veterans have completed and graduated from the 30-hour training course. He knows of at least 88 who have registered their business with the Maryland Department of Business and Taxation. From those Project Opportunity graduates, at least 225 jobs have been created. Giordano sends a survey every year to graduates of his course, but he doesn’t always hear back, making exact tracking difficult.

“I haven’t run across any graduates that aren’t running their own business or employed,” Giordano says.

Giordano, a Salisbury, Maryland resident, began offering the course on the Eastern Shore. It has expanded to Southern Maryland, Baltimore City, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Anne
Arundel County and next spring will also be offered in Harford County. The class meets for three hours, one night each week for 10 weeks. A session is currently being held at TechPort.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get more entrepreneurs working in our Southern Maryland counties,” says Tommy Luginbill, director of TechPort. “It’s incredible the talent that Giordano brings to teach participants all they need to know to get their business off the ground and running.”

Project Opportunity uses a nationally recognized entrepreneurship curriculum called NXLeveL and Giordano supplements with subject matter experts presenting weekly. They cover market research and analysis, credit for small businesses, legal aspects of business entities, basic aspects of salesmanship, commercial insurance and web design. Additionally, he brings in someone to introduce local resources and a small business administrator.

“We teach our participants how to research, write and develop a comprehensive business plan,” Giordano says. “At the end of the course, we offer review sessions with experts in marketing and financial fields. They review their business plans and offer 15-20 minutes of feedback.”

The course concludes with a three- to five-minute PowerPoint business pitch and an opportunity to share what they’ve learned in the course.

“After graduation, we continue to offer free business counseling and coaching,” Giordano says. The class size usually ranges from about six to 14 people. With social distancing in place due to the pandemic, they are currently a bit smaller. Four classes are underway this fall on the Eastern Shore, in Southern Maryland, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, with some classes and speakers participating virtually.

With the economic troubles created by the novel coronavirus, Giordano sees this as a great time for veterans to try Project Opportunity.

“There may be veterans who want to start a business or who are struggling and want to expand to recover from COVID-19. Some may already have a business plan and they need to update or revise it,” Giordano says


About Project Opportunity

Established 2010, Project Opportunity has graduated more than 250 military personnel and veterans from classes held throughout Maryland. Project Opportunity is a free entrepreneurship training program for active duty military and reserve personnel and veterans who want to start their own businesses or expand a current small business. The ten-week (30 hour) intensive course is designed to prepare veterans to research and complete a business plan. Founded on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2010, Project Opportunity has since expanded to Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. Contributions from county economic development authorities, local banks, fraternal organizations and private foundations help ensure that the classes are free to veteran participants.