COVID-19: The Role of Veteran-backed Startups

StartingUpGood Magazine
5 min readMay 22, 2020


Written by Leah Brody

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the implications of COVID-19 on startups and impact investing. In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, and in reverence of those — past and present — serving in the U.S. military, we’re going to pivot slightly and highlight the incredible role veterans play in the startup ecosystem (hint: it’s significant).

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, over 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. are operated by veterans, generating revenue of over $1 trillion. And the number is growing — out of the approximately 250,000 service members who transition out of the military each year, one in four wants to start their own business.

This isn’t surprising; many of the traits held by military personnel, like discipline, flexibility, honesty, and strong collaboration skills, fare well in the startup environment. Despite the fact that the size of our military has been on the decline over the past few years, it’s more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before, which only serves to spur innovation and drive business growth in years to come.

From our earlier articles, you’ve seen that even with the current climate, some startups are experiencing unexpected wins amidst COVID-19, while others are well-positioned to support in recovery. Here, we’ll celebrate a few veteran-owned startups who’ve shifted gears to support relief efforts, seen recent success, or whose mission is particularly relevant in these times. And, if you come from a military background and are interested in building your own business, here are some helpful links to get you started:

- The U.S. Small Business Administration offers support for veterans starting their own businesses through funding programs, training, and federal contracting opportunities.

- NerdWallet has compiled a helpful guide on business creation/development, funding opportunities, and training programs.

- also has a comprehensive list of veteran resources for funding, training, and other support.

- Google has an ongoing commitment to the military community — helping with transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses as they grow their careers and businesses. They’ve partnered with Bunker Labs, Patriot Boot Camp, and Veteran Capital to expand mentorship, training, and experience for veterans and their partners.

Shifting Gears

One veteran-owned company that has been able to successfully transition to support relief efforts is Battle Sight Technologies, a patenting firm that can rapidly commercialize products for military personnel, first responders, and emergency management professionals.

“When this whole COVID thing started,” said Nick Ripplinger, President and former Army NCOIC, “we were having some beers at the shop, trying to figure out what to do with personnel and how to keep our guys employed. We eventually realized we probably had the equipment in-house required to bottle hand sanitizer. We reached out to an amazing equipment supplier of ours, and they were able to ship us the hand sanitizer in 55 gallon drums. We got some bottles from another Ohio company in Lima. Right now we’re up to about 4,000 bottles.”

Half of those bottles were donated to local first responders and hospitals; the rest of the inventory was sold to businesses, the U.S. Air Force, and the general public.

Born Out of Necessity

Glenn Godsey, a former Military Police officer, created Critical Clean to address the safety of first responders in his New Jersey community. Initially intended to assist fire departments, and expanding over the past few weeks to include other essential businesses like police stations and nursing homes, Critical Clean now serves the entire tri-state area, and hopes to offer its customers peace of mind.

“We saw a need for disinfecting buildings. People will pay attention to that and have some sort of comfort in walking into a building or business that has been professionally cleaned,” Godsey said.

New Opportunities is an award-winning company that provides secure identity proofing, authentication, and group affiliation verification for government and businesses across sectors. Started by Blake Hall, a decorated Army Ranger, with the goal of making personal verification easier and more secure, works with hundreds of companies within the retail, government, healthcare, and financial industries.

Since the pandemic hit, has been able to help secure safe, virtual interactions for medical professionals using Slack. In this workspace, accredited health care providers can talk and share information about COVID-19. Using a quick medical credential verification process, ensures that only accredited providers have access.

“With COVID-19 infections continuing to rise, now is the time to come together and leverage the collective expertise of the U.S. health care community,” said Hall. “With this new, real-time collaboration workspace on Slack, health care professionals can help each other with smart, actionable, accurate information and learnings.”

Support for Veterans and Civilians Alike

As we discussed previously, Americans are reporting significant and sustained increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the pandemic. Together with the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched COVID Coach, a mobile app designed to help veterans and civilians cope with feelings of stress and anxiety stemming from COVID-19. The app helps users track their own well-being, and provides those in need with direct links to supportive resources.

“We know mental health, mental wellness, matters for everybody at all times. This time, going through this pandemic, just heightens that,” local recovery coordinator Christine Cooper said.

This Memorial Day, we remember our fallen service members and thank our military community. We hope everyone has a safe, and healthy, weekend.

Leah Brody has nearly ten years of nonprofit and corporate responsibility experience, specializing in program strategy and implementation, employee engagement, and communications. She is a Senior Director at Changing Our World and a consultant to StartingUpGood. Contact Leah at



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