ASU Venture Catalyst Announces the Line Up for Military and Veteran Themed Rapid Startup School

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Veterans, entrepreneurs and industry experts join entrepreneurship class

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Many veterans are returning from combat and are unable to secure employment. RSuS is an opportunity for veterans to collaborate with individuals in the security and defense industries, to create solutions, companies and jobs

The Venture Catalyst at ASU SkySong has announced its keynote speakers and program line up for the Military, Defense and Veterans (MDV) installment of its Rapid Startup School program. The free program, offered from 6:00pm to 8:30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at ASU SkySong, will begin on Sept 18. The course will provide an overview of launching a startup company, entrepreneurial resources, licensing opportunities for security related products and opportunities to network and form founding teams.
Headlining the course is entrepreneur and former TOPGUN Instructor pilot, Mant Hawkins. Colonel Hawkins is CEO of the Fort Worth, Texas, based startup Kaonetics, a technology company specializing in national security, law enforcement, and private sector security solutions. Colonel Hawkins’ 25 year career in the U.S. Marine Corps included serving as Director of the United States Central Command, the Commander’s personal think thank studying the Iraq, Afghanistan, and African conflict areas, engaging key influential experts in those areas and proposing policy level solutions.

Also keynoting the program is local veteran and entrepreneur, Jay Rogers. John “Jay” Rogers is President, CEO and Co-Founder of Local Motors, a next-generation car company that is changing the way cars are designed, built, and owned. Founded 5 years ago, Local Motors is home to over 60,000 car design concepts, 25,000 community members, over 30 full time employees, 1 production vehicle, the Rally Fighter, and 1 vehicle co-created for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Local Motors is the first automotive co-creation community, and the first company to produce an open source vehicle. Mr. Roger’s career includes startups, 9 years in the US Marine Corps, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Jay will speak at RSuS to share his experiences and his passion for open-source design and local manufacturing.

The objective of the RSuS-MDV program is to help create new startups in military technology and related fields, as well as equip veterans with the resources and skills they need to launch successful, viable startups.

“We see Rapid Startup School-MDV as the much needed tool to put our under and unemployed veterans back to work,” said Wiley Larsen, Venture Manager at ASU’s Venture Catalyst. “Many veterans are returning from combat and are unable to secure employment. RSuS is an opportunity for veterans to collaborate with individuals in the security and defense industries, to create solutions, companies and jobs ”.

The program is free and open to the public. Space is limited, and interested parties should register to attend at

The MDV program will also provide entrepreneurs with information and strategies for winning the AZ Furnace competition. Furnace is being administered by ASU Venture Catalyst and will provide up to $550,000 in seed funding to IP-based startups in Arizona. The deadline to apply for the AZ Furnace program is Sept. 30.

The Schedule for Rapid Startup School - MDV is as follows:

Sept 18, 6pm: Introduction to New Venture Creation
Speakers: Gordon McConnell, Executive Director of ASU Venture Catalyst and VP for Venture Creation, Acceleration, and Entrepreneurship.
Maj. Gen. Carl Schnieder (Ret.)
Rob Winkle, Black Diamond Advanced Technology
Russ Clark, Veterans Boot Camp

Sept 20, 6pm: Technology Assessment and Resources
Speakers: Charlie Lewis, Arizona Technology Enterprises
Bill Loux, Arizona Technology Enterprises
Dr. Werner Dahm, Director, ASU Security & Defense Systems Institute

Sept 25, 6pm: Legal and Financial Strategies for Startups
Speakers: Eric Spencer and Brian Burt, Snell & Wilmer
Michael D’Hoostelaere, Arizona SBDC

Sept 27, 6pm: Identifying Market Opportunites in Defense and Security
Chris Stalzer, Juggernaut Defense, Inc
Speaker: Mant Hawkins, CEO, Kaonetics Inc.

Oct. 2, 6pm: Financing Options and Resources for Vets
Speakers: Paul Smiley, CEO Sonoran Technologies
Tom Plachecki, General Dynamics EDGE Innovation Program
Dennis Merens, Venture Capitalist and former Managing Director, Dow Ventures

Oct 4, 6pm: Made in the USA: Manufacturing and Delivery
Jay Rogers, CEO, Local Motors


About Venture Catalyst at ASU (
ASU Venture Catalyst equips high potential startups for success. The Catalyst assists university students, faculty and staff, as well as local and global companies, with launching startups or accelerating existing ventures. Based at ASU SkySong, The Catalyst offers investor connections, technology road maps, go-to-market strategy consulting, mentoring opportunities, and several other programs and services, all designed to identify and develop investment-grade companies.

About AZ Furnace (
Arizona Furnace is an innovative startup accelerator designed to incubate and launch new companies created by licensing technology and intellectual property from Arizona's premiere research institutions. In partnership with Arizona Commerce Authority, BioAccel, Dignity Health Systems, NAU Innovations, and Thunderbird Global School of Management, Furnace is an intensive, six-month accelerator experience for startups; providing them with initial seed funding, office space, and access to top industry mentors. Participants in Furnace will have access to the top discoveries made in Arizona laboratories and the opportunity to commercialize those technologies into high-potential startups.

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Meagan Garrett
ASU SkySong
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