GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) – At the University of Florida, dozens of veterans are getting tangible tools, tricks and tips on how to run their own businesses.

Every veteran in the room has served our nation in one capacity or another, but on Tuesday, they were the ones being served entrepreneurial know-how. One of those veterans was U.S. Army veteran, Rod Nelson, 39, of Orlando. He served in Afghanistan and wants to eventually open his own boat repair shop.

“It’s not about making a ton of money,” Nelson explained. “It’s about that freedom to be in charge of my own life and spend time with my family.”

Another is U.S. Army veteran, Matt Franz, 31, of Orlando. He served in both Iraq and Korea.

“My particular business is focused on transportation,” Franz said. “It’s essentially another trucking company.”

They all applied and were chosen to be part of UF’s Veteran’s Entrepreneurship Program for disabled veterans and veteran who are distinguished. Only two other universities in the United States offer the program.

Nola Miyasaki is the Executive Director for Outreach, and Incubation at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Incubation at UF.

“Statistically, veterans have very good skill sets that are transferable to business,” she explained. “They really are good business owners.”

Eight months in total, this section is almost like an entrepreneurship master’s program in an eight-day “boot camp.” Veterans learn things like marketing, profit and loss, finance, accounting, and leveraging resources. These are real-world, practical things that can be put into practice at their new small-businesses. Everything including travel, lodging, meals, and materials is free for the veterans in the program.

“This is a way for us to help them, because I think disabled veterans and all veterans deserve our heartfelt thanks,” Miyasaki said.

It is help that will hopefully make the dreams of Nelson, Franz and all of the veterans in the program a reality.

Nelson said, “It’s been awesome. Dr. Morris and his team have been top notch.”

About the program, Franz said, “For all of us, it’s really a blessing.”

After they complete the program, these veterans will have access to their own mentors for six months.

For more information about the program, contact the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at 352.273.0330 or send an email to

You can find an application online by clicking here:

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