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Operation American Dream: From Battlefield to Boss

Army and Air Force veterans may enter contest for business start-up funding

Signal 88 Security seeks veterans to open franchises. Photo courtesy of Signal 88 Security

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If you've ever wanted to start your own business but were hindered by the funding, there's a way to secure some seed money.

Over the next six weeks, Army and Air Force veterans are invited to submit a video explaining why they want to open their own business. Entries will be automatically entered into the second annual Operation American Dream: From Battlefield to Boss contest, sponsored and operated by Signal 88 Security, in order to win upwards of $5,000 in start-up funding.

Signal 88 Security, which offers community-based security personnel while incorporating state-of-the-art technology to provide customized security services via its franchises, has been listed among the top 10 percent of military-friendly franchises by G.I. Jobs. Franchise Business Review also recognized it as a "Top 100 Franchise for Veterans."

"We noticed that quite a bit of the people interested in this industry had military backgrounds and we thought there was a need for servicemembers to get that extra boost," said Dan Cisar, vice president of Franchise Standards for Signal 88 Security.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, veterans own 2.4 million small businesses, which translates to approximately one in 10. Furthermore, in the private sector, veterans are 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.    

"A lot of companies can give lip service about being military friendly or even demonstrate it through hiring practices, but very few are going to invest this type of money to create entrepreneurs who are heroes," Cisar said. "We are happy to be at the forefront of this initiative."

The contest is open to Army and Air Force veterans, or soldiers or airmen who will be ending their time of service soon. Although last year the contest included four branches of the military, Signal 88 Security decided to divide the group and actually offer two prizes for the 2014 year; Marine and Navy veterans will get a shot in October.

Such a generous gesture made sense for the rapidly growing Nebraska-based company, which has over 100 franchises nationwide and services more than 35 states.

"That growth has allowed us to in turn do this sort of thing for the military community," he said.

Last year, Cisar stated that they received hundreds of video submissions and they are hopeful that the turnout will continue to grow. The 2013 winner, an Army veteran who had spent 22 years in uniform, stood out because he was a leader that came across as being capable of making decisions.

"We're looking for someone who can really demonstrate a passion for starting a business and someone who is really dedicated to taking this money and starting something on their own. You'd be surprised, but the knowledge and the passion really come through on the videos," he said.

Submissions will be accepted online at The deadline for entry is May 15; on May 22, the top four videos, as decided by the Signal 88 Security main office, will be posted to the company's Facebook page ( and the public will be invited to vote for the best one. The winner will then be announced in late May.

The contestant with the most votes will receive $5,000 to start their own business, or $10,000 if they choose to open a Signal 88 Security franchise.

"All they need is a chance and we are here to provide that to them," Cisar added.

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