Great Evening with Veterans in Innovation!

Contributor: Mackenzie Leveque, Digital Marketing Associate

Last night CONNECT held a panel featuring veterans in innovation, the latest event in a series of CONNECT ALL Talks.

The panel was moderated by Christian Braemer, CEO of Benefunder. Christian is a serial entrepreneur with a diverse background in wealth management, digital media, and non-profit. A CONNECT incubating company, Benefunder is the first marketplace that matches philanthropists directly with research and other programs at top institutions. Prior to that, he served in the Royal Danish Army as a sergeant/section commander in the 1st infantry regiment where he was also elected vice national spokesman for enlisted personnel. 

Speakers on the panel included the President of Fuse Integration, Sumner Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Faveo, Abel Martinez, and CEO of Elliptigo, Bryan Pate. 

Sumner Lee is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Naval Aviator, entrepreneur, and alumnus of USC Marshall School of Business, having graduated as part of the second EMBA class in San Diego. Sumner used his USC MBA to accelerate the launch of CONNECT Springboard grad and 2017 MIP Finalist, Fuse Integration, which is a warfighter focused engineering and design firm in San Diego. Lee advises aspiring entrepreneurs to take the leap of faith when it comes to starting their own businesses. "You have to go and take some risks and be able to step out and get the job done. I think that can be the difference between being a success or a failure."

Abel Martinez was born in the Dominican Republic with a passion to create a legacy. As a young man, he joined the United States Marine Corps where he sought to continue pursuing his dreams. After his deployment, he attained a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in International Business with an emphasis in Latin America and created CONNECT ALL company Faveo – an on-demand moving platform that allows people to connect to help each other move. Martinez encourages veterans to get involved in startups after they return to civilian life. "Just like in the military, you never know you can do something until you do," said Martinez.

Bryan Pate joined the Marines after graduating from Stanford University in 1995. From 1996 - 1998, he led a platoon of USMC Scout Snipers. In 2008, he co-found CONNECT Springboard graduate ElliptiGO Inc. where he helped commercialize the world’s first elliptical bicycle. ElliptiGO was also a 2010 MIP Winner and a 2016 MIP Finalist. Pate urges veterans to take advantage of any free resources and opportunities that may be available. "Make as few mistakes as possible while spending as little money as possible." 

Topics of the discussion included the challenges of transitioning between military and civilian, raising capital, and choosing to work in a field that you love. 

The panel was followed by CONNECT's monthly Entrepreneur Happy Hour, catered by Culinary Concepts.

Thank you to everyone who attended! Look out for more All Talks in the coming months and please join us at other upcoming events, including the 30th Annual Most Innovative Product Awards!

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