Inaugural Veteran EDGE Conference a Rousing Success

First Data Highlights Multi-Dimensional Impact on Veteran Entrepreneurs

By: First Data

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), military veterans are the most successful business owners in America.  Currently there are over 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses, employing more than five million U.S. citizens and generating more than $1.1 trillion dollars in revenue.

“We know from research by the Small Business Administration that veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to pursue business ownership,” said Ryan Caldwell, First Data Veteran Business Engagement Analyst. “And we also know that the 5-year success rate of businesses owned by veterans significantly beats the national average. The data backs up what we have known for a long time: veterans are good for the economy.”

The Veteran EDGE conference was launched to cater to the needs and challenges of veteran business owners looking to grow their venture by bringing them together with companies ready to finance, do business with, and help them expand. The supplemental Vet50 Awards, Powered by First Data, in partnership with Inc. Magazine, recognized the first-ever list of the fastest-growing veteran-owned businesses in the country based on revenue. The event was strategically held in Austin, Texas – a state with the second largest population of veteran-owned businesses and brought together more than 300 stakeholders, including researchers, thought leaders, veteran services, and small business organizations.

“The work First Data does to support veteran entrepreneurs is creating a legacy of value and impact on small business owners throughout the country,” said Caldwell. “Creating innovative events such as the Veteran EDGE conference and the Vet50 Awards reinforces the commitment to support this growing and thriving population.”

Education and training is the foundation of any successful entrepreneur’s path. By better informing future entrepreneurs, First Data and valued partners such as the IVMF will play a leading role in increasing the likelihood that entrepreneurs will succeed in taking their idea beyond the start-up stages to grow and scale their businesses. Among the veteran entrepreneurs in attendance were some First Data clients who were able to share their success stories with other business owners.

“First Data is proud of our longtime partnership with the IVMF and excited to be a major part of this inaugural conference focused on veteran entrepreneur success,” said Vivian Greentree, Navy veteran, Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship. “As a founding member of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Businesses (CVOB), we are committed to providing access to education, training, resources, and mentoring for these veteran entrepreneurs.”

First Data leveraged the opportunity to gather its distinguished Military Advisory Council (MAC), including keynote speakers NASA astronaut retired Navy Capt. Scott Kelly, and guest speaker Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs. MAC members met with and addressed Military Affinity Group chapter leaders to collectively strategize how to increase First Data’s impact of veterans, military spouses, and Guard and Reserve members at First Data through entrepreneurship, employment, and experience.

First Data brought a multi-faceted approach to the conference, bringing representatives from a variety of lines of business to support and participate in the event including supplier diversity, government affairs, sales and corporate citizenship. Supplier Diversity representative Darretta Whitfield spoke on a panel about corporate supply chains. She represented First Data brilliantly; highlighting what our company looks for in prospective suppliers, offering professional advice to business owners looking to break into Fortune 500 supply chains, and also was able to engage with partner companies like Walmart, USAA, and Apple. Through her participation, as well as the participation of our other colleagues, First Data demonstrated its commitment to the military community and supplier diversity efforts first-hand.

With such positive feedback and overall view of the Veteran EDGE Conference as a resounding success, we look forward to bringing it to other cities around the country. To learn more about First Data’s military community programming, check us out at To learn more about, and join, the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, please visit We hope to see you at our next event!


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