Babson Graduate Student Business: DropZone – Veteran Resources Vetted by Vets
To honor those who serve this Veterans Day, and to thank one of our very own Babson graduate student veterans for her service, we caught up with Courtney Wilson M’17 about her newly-launched startup – DropZone: Veteran Resources Vetted by Vets.
What is DropZone?
Courtney: DropZone is a mobile app that connects veterans with non-government resources, programs and benefits, all of which have been rated and reviewed by fellow veterans. The resources are presented using a swipe-left, swipe-right interface so veterans can quickly identify and connect with relevant organizations.
Today, on Veterans Day, DropZone has officially launched its IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds and help launch the business. Click here to learn more and support the cause!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the inspiration behind the app?
Courtney: I am a former Army Engineer Captain and combat veteran. I served for six and a half years, and since returning home last August, I’ve used over $20,000 in resources available exclusively to me as a veteran. These have included an all-day resume workshop with the hiring managers at Google, a free year’s membership to LinkedIn premium, 20 pro-bono neurofeedback sessions from a Harvard-trained scientist, and more.
Yet when I talk to my fellow veterans, they’ve used nothing – $0. This is common. Of the 21.8 million veterans in America, 53% have never used a single resource that’s available to them.
The idea for the app came when I went on a five-day, all-expenses-paid, outdoor healing retreat. It was so amazing, helpful, and life-changing that I told all of my veteran friends about it. I wanted all of them to experience it. I got one of my former squad leaders to sign up, and he was like a whole new person when he got back. He could not stop talking about what a great program it was and how his entire outlook on life had changed.
I thought, if knowing about this one resource can make such a difference in a veteran’s life, what if he knew about all the resources that were available to him? And so DropZone was created.
What led you to Babson?
Courtney: I wanted to focus on social entrepreneurship and so, to me, Babson was the obvious choice. My Dad also graduated from Babson’s MBA program, so I grew up hearing about everything the college had to offer.
What are your goals for DropZone and as a student here at Babson?
Courtney: I am focused on getting a working prototype into the market to do beta testing and market research. By the time I leave Babson, I want to be launching, officially, nationwide. I’m hoping to use Babson’s Summer Venture Program to help get me there. As a student, my goal is to take advantage of Babson’s many resources and create lasting, meaningful friendships and professional connections.
What advice would you give a fellow veteran looking to pursue an entrepreneurial venture?
Courtney: For any veteran looking to get into entrepreneurship, I’d say…COME TO BABSON! For real. Babson is incredibly veteran-friendly, and for me – it has already proven to be especially helpful as a female veteran given all of the initiatives the college has for women entrepreneurs. If you want to pursue entrepreneurship, I can’t imagine going anywhere else but here.
For those not looking to get back into a school system, I would say leverage your network. The military network is incredibly strong. You might not know the right people now, but you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. Veterans love to help each other out, as do entrepreneurs! Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Anything else you’d like to share about yourself and your startup?
Courtney: Creating DropZone has helped me acquire new-found appreciation for the world, my education, entrepreneurship, and so much more. Every person I’ve talked to about my venture, regardless of whether or not they’re a veteran, has practically fallen over backwards trying to help me – offering to introduce me to people, new resources, and anything else they can think of that may support my efforts and help ensure my success.
I feel incredibly supported and just so lucky to be a part of the Babson community.