That former U.S. Marine Marc Hunter came back from Iraq and, later, Afghanistan is, in many ways, remarkable. “Our company hit improvised explosive devices every single mission. We made enemy contact every time out,” he says of his time in Afghanistan. “But, everyone came home one way or another. It really was a blessing.”
But the blessing was not without its costs. Hunter’s ears have had persistent tinnitus since 2010, he has balance problems and he’s struck by thunderclap headaches. After getting out of the military, Hunter moved to Los Angeles and found a job as a production manager at a glass factory. But, he began having trouble at home and with his emotions. “L.A. wasn't a good place for me,” he says. “I got out of town.”
That experience helped Hunter refocus on what was important in his life. So, he and his wife moved to Flagstaff, Ariz., where took the opportunity to get his master’s degree in applied geospatial sciences at Northern Arizona University on the GI Bill. “Geographic information systems studies has always been a passion,” Hunter says.
He and a partner have turned that passion into a business opportunity and hope to officially launch Elevated GIS later this summer. To Hunter, the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) at UCLA Anderson — which took place last week — is a chance to bring the leadership strengths he learned in the military in line with his dreams as he sets off in a new life and career direction. “This is my chance to make the best of both those worlds,” he says.
Hunter believed he had a pretty solid business concept coming into EBV, but he’s learned more than he expected. “EBV has helped me greatly to focus on key success factors during execution and how to posture the company to make short-term decisions that are in line with our long-term future goals,” he says. But, it also helped in less business-centric ways. He said his fears about earning a living from his startup venture have eased at EBV. “You come here with others who are doing the same thing, and you go, ‘Oh, ok. It’s going to be alright.’”
In fact, the camaraderie has been a great bonus. “It has been one of the best surprises to see how much we can help each other, both with our businesses and through the learning process,” he says. “This cohort has come together extremely quickly, and I have many new friends and peers that I will keep in contact with.”
For those thinking of participating, he says absolutely an EBV residency is well worth the effort — with one exception. “The only ones I would not recommend it to are those without the desire to see it through to the end,” he says. “If running a business is only a passing thought or interest, the rigorous curriculum and expectations will probably be too much.”
To learn more about the EBV program, visit the program page.