Originally posted on 11/05/2013 at Patriot Startups
As any active duty service member or veteran knows, the support of friends and loved ones can make all the difference during your military career. Deployments and jumping around to different duty stations places a significant amount of stress on relationships. In my opinion, many military relationships are successful because of the strength and commitment of the military spouse.
I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with veterans in entrepreneurship. Perfect segway to Jen Pilcher. I had the pleasure of meeting Jen this past summer at the 2013 TechStars Patriot Boot Camp. She’s a tenacious and motivated woman, exemplifying many of the qualities you would expect from an officer who has led a company of soldiers. I never would have guessed she was a military spouse until she told me.
The Patriot Boot Camp is open to not only active duty service members and veterans, but also their spouses, and Jen Pilcher is an awesome example of why. Military spouses make great entrepreneurs for many of the same reasons that veterans do. They understand risk, leadership, sacrifice, and responsibility. One responsibility many military spouses must accept is managing family affairs without the help of their significant other. That’s a huge undertaking, arguably more difficult than being the deployed soldier.
For these reasons and more, Jen Pilcher makes a great entrepreneur. Starting at a young age she knew she wanted to be her own boss. While in high school she started a tennis lesson program called Racket Time Tennis, the only such service in her home town. Later, she became a Speech-Language Pathologist with the goal of starting her own practice; however, the nature of being a military spouse made this difficult. She’s been married to her husband, an O5 Navy pilot, for the past 16 years and raising 2 children, ages 10 and 7.
Like most good entrepreneurs though, Jen was always on the lookout for the next opportunity to fill a market need:
“As a military spouse for over 15 years, I was frustrated with military resources and opportunities being spread across the internet. I wanted to create an extremely user friendly platform for everyone who is connected to the military to access and get the information they need…in one click. I also worked for a large social media company in NY and saw how large companies and brands wanted to connect with the military community … but they did not have a platform to do this successfully.”
Jen connected the dots and started MilitaryOneClick by bootstrapping it in January 2011. It is a content marketing platform creating brand influence throughout the entire military community. They are able to reach millions in this community by socially sharing the best opportunities and resources through their website, social media, e-news, news media and boots on the ground events.
Some recent highlights for Jen and MilitaryOneClick include being accepted as the first military spouse owned company to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership through the Department of Defense awarded Joint Base Andrews Military Spouse of the Year 2012, SCORE DC client of the year 2013, pitch contest winner for Count Me In and Capital One, member and alumni of TechStars Patriot Boot Camp, and an Inc. Magazine Military Entrepreneur Alumni and Special Delegate 2011, 2012, 2013. Being part of these organizations has dramatically improved the success of Military One Click. They have actually grown over 700% in the past year.
One major challenge for Jen has been the hours of dedication required to run her company:
“I thought this would be a nice part time project I could work on as a stay at home mom. I was wrong. I completely underestimated how long everything takes and how hard this is. But, I am hooked.”
I think that’s the case with most entrepreneurs. Her advice to handle the demanding life of starting your own business is to “keep a sense of humor and outsource everything but your soul!”
“Communication is my strength and I have “outsourced” everything else to amazing military spouses who have talents and strengths in other areas. Build your team one person at a time. You can’t do it all – grow your team as your budget allows. I now have a team of 7 military and civilian spouses stationed throughout the Country and together we make one powerful team!”
Connect with MilitaryOneClick.