Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

Nancy Preston, who was deployed in Iraq in 2007, always wanted to be her own boss but didn’t have the courage to start until she personally experienced fear while continuously working 21-hour days in her Army operational unit for nine months.

Preston, 43, realized that “if I can do this for God and Country, then I can do this for myself.” She started Milk Money Kitchens in May 2018. She applied and was selected to the 6-month WeWork Veterans in Residence (VIR) powered by Bunker Labs.

The 6-month VIR program is exclusive for military veterans and members who have business ideas.  The program matches entrepreneurs with mentors and resources  to help hasten growth.

The VIR Program taught Preston to “make the most of every opportunity” and to progress from the start-up phase into steady growth.

Her VIR cohort, Green Beret Steve Forti, turned his vision to develop a mobile app that promotes fitness competition into a business.

The idea about FitFight, started when Forti was deployed to Romania in 2013. He had a group email chain with military friends scattered in various places and one time he showed his workout by sending videos.

WeWork VIR mentors introduced Forti to a development team and a former Nike designer. Now, FitFight has 10 employees, is growing at 68 percent a month with an average of 1,000 submissions of fitness competitions from around the world. They even sponsor challenges.

Bunker Labs Northeast Regional Executive Director Katherine Kostreva said that they try to help businesses meet experts for legal aid and contracts “at low to no cost.”

Forti said that the “institutional experience and the guidance that was offered” by the program was “immeasurable.”

The veterans in the VIR program are connected with resources and get a 25 percent discount for WeWork office space rental in their first year.

About 10 people are chosen for the program in each city. The program is looking for candidates who already have a business plan in mind but need mentorship in specific areas.

The WeWork VIR powered by Bunker Labs is operating in New York City and 14 other cities

Veterans interested in the VIR program may apply at we.co/veterans