Startup America Veteran's Working Group


Communities all over the country are seeking ways that startups can be useful in better serving our returning veterans and/or providing support for veteran entrepreneurs in their community. Startup America is convening this working group in response to a tremendous level of interest from our regions across the country in this issue. The working group will be led by entrepreneurs who are region champions working on making their communities stronger for startups. Membership is open but all participants are expected to be active and engaged in the actions of the working group. The working group will highlight the most promising practices for helping veterans become successful entrepreneurs and the startups that are successfully serving our nation's vets. This group will be the eyes and ears for the Startup America regions, helping to make sure communities across the country have immediate access to the most promising ideas, programs, activities and events to help veterans.


The working group is lead by a team of entrepreneurs from across the country, who are passionate about helping veterans and committed to increasing the number of veterans that pursue the successful entrepreneurial path as they return from active military service.

Paige Craig, Angel Investor

Paige Craig is a rabid Angel Investor with 60+ tech investments and a leading proponent of Silicon Beach and entrepreneurship. He spent the first half of his career in the Marine Corps and US Intelligence Community and later launched a Strategic Communications company by driving alone into Iraq in 2003. 



Dawn Halfaker, President & CEO, Halfaker and Associates, LLC

A retired U.S. Army Captain, Dawn was wounded during a combat patrol near Baghdad in 2004 and earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After serving in the military, Dawn founded Halfaker and Associates, LLC, a professional services and technology solutions firm that advises and assists government organizations on issues of national and global significance in 2006. With 120 employees and growing, Dawn has positioned the company to be a technology-driven, agile organization that develops leading-edge solutions to complex problems. Dawn currently serves as the President of the Wounded Warrior Project Board of Directors and also remains very active with several Advisory Committees and veteran service organizations. Recently, Dawn received the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Greater Washington Award and a 2012 Aspen Institute Scholar Award. She has been featured on several media outlets including HBO, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Huffington Post and The New York Times.

Blake Hall, CEO, Troopswap

Blake Hall is the Founder and CEO of Troop ID, the first authentication platform that verifies military affiliation online. An Airborne-Ranger qualified officer, Blake led a battalion reconnaissance platoon in Iraq for fifteen months during 2006 – 2007. He has written for The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Forbes and Vanderbilt Magazine.Thanks to The Economist, he is also the first Google result for the phrase "muscly entrepreneur." Blake attained a Bachelor of Science magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Harvard Business School."


Kelly Perdew, Co-Founder & CEO, Targetclose

Perdew is the CEO of TargetClose, a performance-based marketing company comprised of successful, serial entrepreneurs, with deep direct marketing expertise and technology experience.  Prior to TargetClose he was the CEO of Fastpoint Games, a leading developer of live data-driven games for the fortune 500 brand set.  Fastpoint Games’ award-winning, highly scalable platform and games-as-a-service model has powered web, social and mobile friendly games for clients including Sony Online Entertainment,’s “American Idol”,,, Turner Digital, ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Sporting News,, Fox Espanol and the AVP.  Fastpoint Games was funded by Allen & Co., Mission Ventures, DFJ Dragon (China Fund), and Sports Capital Partners Worldwide. 

Perdew acts as an advisor or Board member for UStream,, and The DuMont Project and was previously an advisor or board member for LinkedIn (LNKD), eteamz (ACTV) and Pandora (P).  He is also a mentor for The Founder Institute ( and helps entrepreneurs launch and build companies.

Nick Wichert, Co-Founder, CEO, VETransfer

Nick Wichert is CEO and Co-Founder of, the first business accelerator for U.S. Military Veterans sponsored by the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Recently, VETransfer was recognized by Forbes as one of top 5 programs for Veteran Entrepreneurs as well as has been recognized by the White House, Nick is an entrepreneur who has started multiple companies focused on product development and customer development. Nick has a Bachelor of Science from UW-Milwaukee and an MBA from Lakeland College.


Working Group Members

The Working Group Membership is open to any entrepreneurs and supporters who are committed to making time to play a leadership role in driving stronger support for our nations veteran entrepreneurs. 

Roy Beavers, Fenix281
Alexander Borisov, Team Rubicon
Megan Brunaugh, Combat2Career
Charlotte Creech, Combat2Career
David Cohen, TechStars
Nick Frost, Startupperz
Brittany Laughlin, Incline HQ
Taylor McLemore, TechStars Patriot Bootcamp
Alana Muller, Kauffman FastTrac
Nigel LeBlanc, HairSlayer
Avery Robinson, RepayVets
Robert Rosenbaum, Maryland Technology Development Corporation
Kip Steele, Entrepreneur
Richard Swart, Grow America
Marlon Terrell, RepayVets
Katherine Webster, VetsinTech



VA Innovation Initiative



Kauffman FastTrac


 Pat Tilman Foundation

Interested in Joining?

If you are interested in being part of the Startup America Veteran Working Group please e-mail with your name, title, company, and contact info so we can list you above.

Inagural Initiatives

  • Troop ID For Valdidation of Military Credentials 
    Troop ID has agreed to donate software to all of the launched Startup America Regions on a pro bonobasis so that community organizers can validate the military credentials of participants in these types of Veteran-centric events. Troop ID is groundbreaking technology that allows Service Members, Veterans and Military Spouses to digitally verify their military credentials to military-friendly brands and reputable organizations in order to claim discounts and benefits. 

  • Multicity Hackathon in Tandem with Vet Transfer
    In conjunction with VETransfer, the Veterans Working Group will be organizing a multi-city hackathon, in which any of the Startup America Regions may participate. VETransfer is a nonprofit business accelerator for America’s military veterans, which has seen incredible demand from Veterans who want to start a business. The hackathon will take place in early spring, and it is designed to encourage the community at large to connect with Veterans and build a stronger entrepreneurial community.

  • Other exciting initiatives to be determined by the working group