[quote style=”boxed”]Break down your ultimate goal into sub-goals that can be achieved in stages. This makes the task at hand seem less daunting, and it will also aid you in creating a logical approach to success.[/quote]
Lt. Marlon Terrell is a member of the U.S. Navy and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Maryland. In May of 2011, Marlon and his business partner, Avery Robinson, came up with a solution to many frustrations they were both experiencing as they were starting to get their own businesses off the ground.
Marlon and Avery discovered that there were many veterans who were interested in starting their own businesses, but when it was time for them to pursue their dreams, they often lacked the necessary funding and/or the appropriate channels to connect to capital sources. The duo founded RepayVets, LLC in order to fund more veterans’ dreams.
RepayVets is an online funding platform for military veterans. Every week, amazing people pledge to help military veterans live out their dreams in a variety of business ventures. Research shows that when a veteran-owned business flourishes, its community gets stronger as well.
What are you working on right now?
Our efforts at RepayVets have recently been focused on increasing the visibility of our platform, as well as preparing for the upcoming regulatory changes for crowdfunding.
Where did the idea for RepayVets come from?
The idea behind RepayVets was originated by me and my partner, Avery Robinson. We came up with the idea when I realized how many of my military peers were exploring entrepreneurial ventures but didn’t know how to access capital. We were impressed with the opportunity that crowdfunding is now providing, but we felt that our veterans deserved their own distinct platform. Therefore, we created RepayVets.
What does your typical day look like?
Each day is unique. At this point, we spend much of our time pursuing ways to get the word out about our platform. This includes having meetings with complementary organizations that are also focused with aiding veterans, as well as having meetings with potential investors.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We map out a plan and execute it. Between my partner’s business background and my military experience, we were able to get the business off the ground in a relatively short amount of time. We continue to make material progress in growing the company by simply planning out our next moves. It’s like creating your own mission.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What excites us is the growing popularity of crowdfunding as a nontraditional source of capital. We believe the overall acceptance of this as a legitimate means of finance is vital to the growth of RepayVets.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
It would have to go back to my high school days. Pretty much any of the jobs I held at that time in my life weren’t the greatest. However, given my limited skills, I now view it as a fair trade. My experiences at those unrewarding jobs motivated me to focus on continuing my education.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Everything I’ve done has gotten me to where I am today. Sure, we all make mistakes and choices we later see weren’t the ones we should have made. But those experiences give us knowledge we couldn’t have otherwise gained, and that’s invaluable. Everything we go through is worthwhile. I honestly feel that we prepared accordingly, so I don’t have any regrets.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
I keep learning. It’s easy, once you’re out of school, to think, “That’s it, I never have to crack another book.” But the most successful business people keep finding new people and sources to learn from. You grow stale if you don’t seek out new perspectives.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We don’t see crowdfunding going away anytime soon, and as it grows, there will be a need for complementary services and education. An idea that focuses on this budding opportunity has significant potential.
Tell us a secret.
We’ve had direct conversations with representatives from the White House about ways to partner and to promote RepayVets. We are extremely excited about this—we’d love to have the federal government help us help veterans.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
I applaud any crowdfunding source out there. It’s hard for people who are starting out to find sources of capital, and these platforms can be invaluable. I also rely a lot on search engines for everyday use; who doesn’t Google new ideas or terms? And, of course, I can’t overlook tools that help veterans. It’s hard to transition back into the workforce, and anyone who makes the process easier—on veterans or on employers—is a big asset.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It’s a classic that can really impact the way one looks at the worlds of income and finance.
What’s on your playlist?
I listen to everything from Stevie Wonder to U2 to Prince to Jay-Z. I’m all over the place when it comes to music.
If you weren’t working with RepayVets, what would you be doing?
I’ve always had a passion for giving back to underprivileged kids, and I still have side projects that focus on these efforts. More of my time would be spent in that arena if I wasn’t working on RepayVets.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I’m not a big Twitter user, sorry!
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed just earlier today. My business partner, Avery, and I were reminiscing about our days playing football in high school. Let’s just say we didn’t have the best team!
Who is your hero?
It’s hard to choose just one, but my uncle, who is also a veteran, has always played a key role in my life. He was one of the inspirations for my own military career.
What’s the outlook for RepayVets?
Over the coming years, we see RepayVets not only serving as the preeminent platform for crowdfunding military veteran projects, but also serving as a network of information and contacts for military-related ventures. This will range from referring our users and supporters to complementary organizations to facilitating relationships that will be mutually beneficial.
Do you have any advice for veteran entrepreneurs?
Avoid getting caught up in paralysis by analysis. It can easily become overwhelming thinking all at once about everything that establishing and running a successful business entails. Break down your ultimate goal into sub-goals that can be achieved in stages. This makes the task at hand seem less daunting, and it will also aid you in creating a logical approach to success.
Lt. Marlon Terrell on LinkedIn:
Follow RepayVets on Twitter:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.