Veterans Venture Challenge

The 2021 Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge will support entrepreneurs who are veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star Families around the country. The program will be virtual in 2021, consisting of a Semi-Final Round to select Finalists, executive mentoring, a Go-to-Market Strategy program, and Business Bootcamp Accelerator focused on cutting-edge business training methodologies, connections to experienced advisors, and sources of capital. The 2021 program builds on the success from 2020 and has over $160,000 in prizes, including seed grant funding for winners and the value of in-kind support services for Finalists and winners. The Challenge will give back to the brave veterans who have fought to defend and protect the United States.

Apply Now

Rules FAQ


Kevin Hesselbirg

Kevin Hesselbirg

Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Center for Entrepreneurship

Kevin Hesselbirg has long supported Hofstra University’s entrepreneurship programs as an Executive-in-Residence and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and is a successful corporate executive CEO of three growth-oriented financial technology companies resulting in combined exit values in excess of $1.5 billion.

Read more about Kevin Hesselbirg

2020 Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists of the Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge, who will compete for $100,000 in seed capital and in-kind prizes on August 6, 2020:

At Ease

At Ease - A two-sided marketplace that connects hosts with homes that meet federal lodging criteria to federal and military travelers during business travel. Austin, TX


CathWear - An all-in-one medical undergarment for catheter leg bag users. Lawrence, MA

Custom Donations

Custom Donations – A secure donation platform with customizable, mobile-friendly forms to optimize fundraising efforts while using your own organization’s branding. Florence, SC

Eqwal Footing

Eqwal Footing - Military grade combat boots sized especially for the female foot; to facilitate optimal performance and equal footing. Memphis, TN

Explorer's Guide

Explorer’s Guide Online - Offers digital maritime licensing courses that meet all federal licensing requirements and can be taken anytime, anywhere. Milwaukee, WI


knowRX - A digital health platform that delivers relevant data and tools to empower patients to better assist physicians, health institutions, and caregivers in providing the best possible care. Austin, TX


LegionX - LegionX’s flagship solution is a cloud-based tool capable of rapidly analyzing millions of emails for patterns with the use of applied AI and features advanced, customizable visualizations. Centerport, NY

Revolution Agricultural

Revolution Agriculture - A scalable logistics platform that sources excess land within communities to grow all crop types year-round with less water within 10 miles of consumers. Tacoma, WA

RopeSafe Edge Protection

RopeSafe USA - A dual use rope protector and anchor strap that protects military and first responders serve our country and keep our families safe. Killingworth, CT


Rownd - A Data Ownership Platform that is simple to integrate into any app or website, provides easy data privacy and security for developers, and elegant data control for every consumer end-user. Durham, NC

2020 Semi-Finalists

In addition to the finalists above:

13 Stars

13 Stars – A hot sauce company serving premium hot sauce and giving back to U.S. veterans, first responders, and their families.  Warren, RI


Biao - A digital skincare line for environmental protection. New York, NY


CavnessHR - CavnessHR delivers HR to small businesses with 49 or fewer people to help small business owners recover the 25% of time they are spending on HR. Dupont, WA


Custobee - We protect online shoppers' orders from porch pirates. Hampton Roads, VA


FitFighter - A complete strength and conditioning system originally designed for firefighters and now available to coaches, athletes, and the general public, with Steelhose weights, iOS app, and Live workout training platform. Port Washington, NY

K9 Salute

K9 Salute - Natural dog treats that honor and give back to K9 heroes. Tacoma, WA


PIACET - A digital solution for managing employee credentials. Colorado Springs, CO

Supply IQ

Supply IQ - A technology platform that eliminates transparency issues in logistics and provides increased quality of procurement of courier services through improved provider and supplier collaboration. Baldwin, NY


UPROOT Homes - A financial technology-driven mortgage services platform that reduces barriers to homeownership for active duty service members. Washington, DC.

Veterans Venture Challenge FAQ

Ten finalists will each receive mentorship and a go-to-market strategy team devoting time to develop a strategy, each package is valued at $4,000, for a total of $40,000.

First Place Total Package: $56,670
$47,000 – Seed capital funding
$7,500 - In-kind go-to-market strategy value
$1,000 – Advertising credit
$1,170 – Virtual services at the ideaHUb value

Second Place Total Package: $36,670
$28,000 – Seed capital funding
$7,500 - In-kind go-to-market strategy value
$1,000 – Advertising credit
$1,170– Virtual services at the ideaHUb value

Third Place Total Package: $26,670
$17,000 – Seed capital funding
$7,500 - In-kind go-to-market strategy value
$1,000 – Advertising credit
$1,170 – Virtual services at the ideaHUb value

Additionally, the Hofstra University ideaHUb will offer a six-month virtual services agreement at no-cost for three additional finalists ($1,170). For more information please visit ideaHUb. Please note some services are only available to companies based in NY.

The elements developed during the GTM phase are leveraged to enhance and mature their business through a focus on customer acquisition and market awareness. These initiatives validate their business vision, accelerate the initiation/growth of revenue, and mature their valuation proposition.

Key elements of the GTM Program, which will include a team of marketing professionals, includes:

  • Develop: Buyer Profiles and Messaging
  • Strengthen: Engagement Campaigns for B2B, B2C and Distributor Audiences
  • Scale: Network and Cadence/Velocity of Outreach

In the 2020 Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge, many companies booked their first sales, and launched digital marketing programs that, so far, have resulted in over 154,000 ad impressions and views.

January 31, 2021.

The CEO of the company and/or the Team Leader participating in the Challenge (as defined below) must be a veteran of the United States military (as defined in 13 CFR § 125.11), the spouse of a veteran, or a Gold Star family member (family members eligible to receive the gold star lapel button as set forth in 10 USC § 1126.) Companies must be 50% or more veteran-owned.

Yes, if they meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, if you are within six months of end of active service, on TDY, on personal leave, or in a Warrior Transition Unit you may be eligible. Please email veteranschallenge[at]hofstra.edu with more details about your service so we can verify your eligibility.

The rules state, “Companies do not need to be revenue-producing to apply, but must not have revenues greater than $250,000 annually to participate. Companies can be in existence for no longer than three years. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Please email veteranschallenge[at]hofstra.edu to verify your eligibility if you have been in operation for more than three years. The company will be asked to demonstrate that it is still in the early stages through financial history.

Yes, a nonprofit organization can apply to the Challenge.

Contestants need to have formed a company to participate and demonstrate visibility to revenues in the next 12 months.

Entrepreneurs must participate in a virtual program that will require a significant amount of time. The same entrepreneur must attend the virtual sessions.

No, you do not have to live on Long Island or New York State, but the company must be incorporated in the United States.

The mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship is to provide Hofstra University's students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community with the skills and training necessary to become accomplished entrepreneurs and to serve as a leader in Long Island's entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Follow the Center on Twitter and Instagram at @HuideaHUb.

Any type of business can be submitted, as long as it is meets the eligibility criteria and is an early stage business with high growth potential.

There is no cost to participate in the Hofstra Veterans Venture Challenge.

Applicants will be notified by March 1, 2021 if they are invited to pitch in the Semi-Final Round.

We will select ten finalists at the Semi-Final Round, who will participate in the GTM, mentorship, and Bootcamp program. The finalists will be eligible to pitch in the Final Round Competition for the seed capital funding.

Email Veteranschallenge[at]Hofstra.edu. All questions and responses will be posted to this website as they come in.

Participants in the 2020 program are eligible unless they placed in first, second, or third and received prize money.