Veterans starting businesses in Phoenix get a helping hand

Dec 20, 2016, 5:06 AM
A business incubator is getting set for the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix, with its target aud...
A business incubator is getting set for the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix, with its target audience being veterans. (Photo by Sharon Mittelman/KTAR News)
(Photo by Sharon Mittelman/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — Starting a business is hard.

Now, help is on the way through a business “incubator” gearing up in the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix.

And the target audience is veterans. It’s meant to be a haven for veterans starting their own businesses.

A support team and resources will all be in one room, called the Armory, thanks to Air Force veteran and tech entrepreneur Phillip Potter.

“We’re starting off with eight veteran-led start-up teams. Those teams will learn how to not make critical mistakes that they can’t recover from, but more importantly, to get product services and technologies out into the market,” said Potter, who founded the Armory Incubator.

Cyber security expert and veteran Paulo Shakarian has a start-up that’s about a year old … and growing. Cyr3con focuses on cyber reconnaissance.

Shakarian will be one of the first to work from the Armory Incubator.

“We’re looking at raising money, how to deal with customers, creating contracts,” Shakarian said.

Shakarian joined the military in 1998 and served until 2014. He started out at West Point, then served as a military intelligence officer in Germany, Iraq, New York, and Arizona. He’s currently an assistant professor at Arizona State University in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The Armory will be giving the veteran entrepreneurs free office space, business mentors, and access to capital. In turn, the owners of the Arizona Center are donating the space to the Armory for the first 18 months.

“They’re going to set up tables, they’re going to have access to internet, whatever else they need,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who is supporting the effort.

“They’re going to provide them the space, the mentoring with other successful entrepreneurs, coaching them about how to advance their business, and obviously, access the capital, which is so necessary to grow your business,” Stanton said.

Stanton said he wants Phoenix to be known as the most veteran-friendly city in the United States.

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Veterans starting businesses in Phoenix get a helping hand