Stephen Hays

@stephenhays

A Memorial Day Message from Deep Space Ventures— We Need More Veterans in Tech!

This is a message I sent out to our DSVC email list this weekend. It is a message I’d like to share with everyone. We need more Veterans in tech/startups.

At the bottom of this message is a list of resources that can help Veterans find their way into the tech ecosystem, please, share with anyone you know who has served our country. Original email message follows:

Dear Friends of DSVC,

Memorial Day is a dichotomy of feelings for many people. It can be a Veteran’s favorite holiday, or least favorite. Some spend the weekend reflecting on loss, and some spend it having a blast with their friends (as those who have gone before us would highly encourage them to do so — carry on by welcoming the beginning of summer). It’s a great day to remember the legacies of those who have gone before us, and a heavy day of wishing they were still here. So many of our friends are in Section 60 at Arlington or along the outer edges of the Cadet Cemetery at West Point among other places.

Arlington National Cemetary

I am grateful to have my freedom and thankful to those who have made that possible by making the ultimate sacrifice. I’m also thankful for the spirit of selfless service and willingness to sacrifice that exists among a special population of our society. Where would we be today without those people?

This weekend is about remembering the fallen, but at the same time I am grateful for the Veterans we are in business with as members of the Deep Space Ventures family. Thank you each for your service and for letting us be apart of what you are doing now. We are truly fortunate to be your partner and to have invested alongside you and your teams (Craig Cummings, Kelly Perdew, Joshua Montgomery, Mike Pratt, and Erik Treutlein).

I’m constantly reminded about how much work we still have to do in order to get more Veterans to find their way to the startup community. There are some great people, highly focused on this, and I wanted to say thank you to the handful that I have had the privilege of working with in the last year (Brady Beauchamp, Craig Cummings, Anthony DeToto, Phil Dillard, Ian Faison, Joseph Kopser, Ryan Micheletti, Kelly Perdew, William Treseder, Sabrina Wojtewicz, Johnathan Wojtewicz).

— End of email to DSVC email list —

Why are veterans a good fit for startups? Glad you asked! There are some traits that align well with running a startup that I find very consistently among the Veteran community (the ones below come from specific experiences I have had with Veteran founders in my portfolio):

  1. Ability to Persevere — relentless types who only fight harder when they run into an obstacle. Oh, and they do it without having to be told (and without needed coddling post failure or struggle).
  2. Service Oriented — working at a startup requires a bit of humbleness, and an ability to consider others before you get to rest, get paid, get to eat.
  3. Operating in Ambiguous Environments — in the military you almost never have a perfect set of information and even if you do, as soon as you make contact with any resistance the plan goes out the window. When things are uncertain, you want people who will make the best decisions they can with the limited information available while aligning with the broader mission. Veterans get it and can bring that trait to a startup.
  4. Integrity — Vets don’t have a corner on this market, but you know what you’re getting when you work with a Veteran here. See number 5 below as well, as an investor, I want to know when there is bad news, so I can help, not sweep it under the rug or sugar coat it.
  5. Communication (bad news) — the ability to not shy away from communication regarding struggles and failures is huge for a founder. The military fosters a sense of self awareness and a desire to seek self improvement — obviously this is helpful as a founder of a struggling startup as investors and advisors can’t help a founder who keeps saying “everything is cool” when it isn’t!

There are other reasons, but these are top of mind as I reflect on the positive experiences I’ve had working with Veteran founders in our portfolio and in the startup ecosystem more broadly.

We need more of those traits in the startup community. If you want to get plugged in, and help some Veterans find their way to the startup ecosystem, then here are a few resources I would recommend:

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great weekend!

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