USAA’s ‘Service to Startup’ contest aims at finding, funding next generation of veteran entrepreneurs

Competition is a chance for veterans to showcase product or idea

USAA is celebrating its 100 year anniversary and for it they’ve kicked off a national pitch competition called “Service to Start-up”.

SAN ANTONIO – USAA is celebrating its 100 year anniversary and for it they’ve kicked off a national pitch competition called “Service to Start-up”.

Thousands of Americans enlist into the armed forces each year and at the same time, thousands of service members transition into civilian life.

Assistant Vice President of Military Affairs Mike Kelly said transitioning to civilian life is hard, but having a plan helps.

“it’s very important for veterans to understand what they’re going to do with their lives. A lot of folks can translate their military skills into a very meaningful career, but other people might not want to work in corporate America. They might want to be their own boss, might want to create their own business,” Kelly said.

And for those who want to be their own boss, Kelly said USAA has teamed up with Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit organization who helps veterans and their spouses start and grow successful businesses.

“So, it’s going to be a national pitch contest that’s going to allow us to find those creative people out there who want to start their own business,” Kelly said.

The service to start up competition is a chance for veterans to showcase their product or idea.

Army veteran A-Jay Orr, who is also CEO and founder of his own IT company, said this is an opportunity that doesn’t happen often.

“If you’ve got an idea and you’re trying to get it to market and you think that you want to take it to market or you’ve got an existing business that’s doing less than a million dollars in revenue or you’ve raised less than $5 million in capital in private equity or VC funding, then this pitch competition would be a great fit for you,” said Orr.

The service to start up pitch competition will award a $100,000 grand prize and $180,000 in cash prizes to a small business start-up.

The contest will be taking place in six cities across the country, starting in Los Angeles in February 2022. The competition will also be held in Seattle, Washington D.C., Charlotte N.C., and Austin.

Finals are expected to be held in San Antonio in November 2022.

Applications are being accepted now, and you can apply by clicking here.


About the Author:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.