Air Force pilot, Gregory Coleman, and fellow MBA candidate, Benjamin Young, realized they faced a problem while they attended the prestigious Wharton School of Business. Both men juggled family obligations, full-time work, and a rigorous academic schedule and had little time and energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They needed a solution.
Coleman, a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a pilot with over 60 combat and combat support missions, decided to solve this problem with the help of Young’s tech expertise. Together, the men founded Nexercise, a technology company that makes the popular Sworkit mobile app. Sworkit provides a simple way to workout anywhere, anytime with no need for equipment.
But, their entrepreneurial journey wasn’t easy. Coleman and Young graduated from business school in 2009 at the height of the global economic recession. Though their first product gained impressive traction, they wanted to create a breakout app and eventually pivoted their focus to the Sworkit project. Both men worked on the business during nights and weekends while maintaining other careers. In fact, Coleman still served as an active duty pilot in the Air National Guard when the two applied and were rejected from the famous Techstars accelerator.
However, the rejection led Coleman to a sister program called Patriot Boot Camp which targets Veterans involved in technology start-ups.
Coleman was able to attend the three-day Patriot Boot Camp in Washington, D.C. in 2012 and was exposed to a host of mentors and resources. More importantly, the program served as a community and support network for him. Entrepreneurship can often be a lonely journey and through the Patriot Boot Camp, Coleman was encouraged by the camaraderie of Veterans who were on a similar journey.
Armed with the experience and support from the Patriot Boot Camp, Coleman and Young reapplied to Techstars and were accepted to the 2013 cohort based in Chicago. This three-month program was a huge catalyst for their Sworkit app and propelled Coleman to eventually resign his full time role with the Air National Guard to focus solely on the business.
Since then, Sworkit has been a resounding success. In 2015 alone, it has grown from 200k monthly users to over 1.8 million. Today, Coleman serves as the COO of the company and manages execution and business operations. Like many Veterans, he brings valuable skills such as innovative problem solving and perseverance to the founding team. He also credits the great mentorship provided by Patriot Boot Camp and Techstars with providing key ingredients to Sworkit’s success.
Coleman’s story is a prime example of how military members can leverage their skills and “no fail” mentality to solve problems and make an impact. Coleman firmly believes that Veterans make great entrepreneurs, but that “taking the leap” is also where many Veterans stall..
Veterans can’t forget that the roadmap to entrepreneurial success is often marked with setbacks and obstacles. However, resources like the Patriot Boot Camp and finding mentors are essential to becoming a success story like Sworkit.
Visit http://sworkit.com/ to learn more about Sworkit. And if you’re an aspiring Veteran entrepreneur, check out Patriot Boot Camp!
Author: Cameron Smith is a former Army Officer who is taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
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