Academy Investor Network – Solving an Ecosystem Problem

The Academy Investor Network (AIN) is an investment syndicate of service academy graduates (SAG’s) from the five 100% publicly financed U.S. Military Institutions. AIN’s mission is to expose SAG’s to the venture asset class, while ensuring startups that fit within our thesis receive funding, guidance and mentorship. AIN’s investment thesis is to invest in i) veteran-led startups and ii) civilian-led startups in the Government Technology (GovTech) sector. AIN believes veterans and companies building products in the GovTech sector face a unique set of challenges. AIN is taking an ecosystem-building approach in order to solve these challenges.

The Problem for Veteran Entrepreneurs: A large number of veterans are interested in entrepreneurship, but the number of veterans pursuing this path is declining.

Studies by the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicate that up to 25% of military members exiting service are interested in starting a business. However, in the last 20 years the amount of veterans pursuing this path has actually decreased ~33% according to U.S. Census data. (Source: Financing Their Future: Veteran Entrepreneurs and Capital Access — New York Federal Reserve and Small Business Administration)

AIN believes this data holds true and is even worse for veterans seeking venture capital funding and the low level of VC funding is due to several factors including: i) a lack of social capital within the venture ecosystem, ii) a lack of mentors for veterans within the ecosystem and iii) VC capital in the U.S. is geographically concentrated and veterans are often not located near these VC-rich areas.

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