Historically, Industry City, located in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, was a typical 19th-century warehouse. Today it has been transformed into an arts, culture, manufacturing and start-up business mecca – with a side of shopping and great food. But inside resides a state-of-the-art business incubator hub that is helping to transform the lives of dozens of United States military veteran entrepreneurs.
The Veterans Future Lab (VFL), a partnership between Barclays and New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, founded in 2017, provides access to NYU Tandon’s faculty, Barclays’ experts, a co-working and prototyping space, and legal and marketing services for fledgling veteran entrepreneurs.
Programming at the VFL consists of two tracks: Apex, a one-year incubator program for early-stage startups, and Veterans Entrepreneurship Training (VET), a 12-week skills program for veterans looking to transition into entrepreneurship.
Both efforts directly address a Pew Research Center report that highlights only 4.5 percent of the 3.6 million Americans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 11th, 2001 have become entrepreneurs—compared to almost 50 percent of World War II veterans and 40 percent of Korean War veterans. It’s a gap that both NYU Tandon and Barclays are seeking to close by providing resources to veterans and supporting their entrepreneurial goals.
Barclays is proud to partner with NYU in support of the Veterans Future Lab and we are constantly inspired by the veteran entrepreneurs we work with and the impact of the programming.Mark Thain, Director, Barclays Citizenship
By leveraging the resources, skills and networks of colleagues, Barclays aims to help accelerate the growth of these startup companies, drive job creation and support more veterans to successfully transition into entrepreneurship. Hands-on coaching by Barclays colleagues is one of the most beneficial learning environments for the entrepreneurs.
There are opportunities where entrepreneurs can talk one-on-one with colleagues, often around a particular theme or business need. Weekly guest speaking sessions are also valuable ways that entrepreneurs can gain exposure to Barclays business leaders — many of whom volunteer their time and expertise.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for our veterans to get the attention they need from a top financial institution, no matter what their socioeconomic background or level of experience is. The feedback we get is incredibly positive for everyone involved,” says James Hendon, Director at Veterans Future Labs. "Veteran entrepreneurs are thrilled with the access to Barclays’ expertise and the level of business experience that the volunteers are able to bring to the VFL," he adds about the program.
Since its inception, the VET Program has grown from 15 graduates in the first cohort to 41 graduates in the last, with 22 startups in industries spanning healthcare and logistics to social enterprise. Companies in the Apex incubator have earned close to a half million dollars in revenue and donations to their ventures, approximately $2.3 million in capital raised with close to $2.0 million in equity reported.
“The numbers speak volumes,” says Hendon. “This is just the beginning of helping our service men and women realize their dreams by taking charge of their business futures under the tutelage of NYU and Barclays.” The first class of Apex entrepreneurs graduates in June 2019.