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In honor of U.S. Veterans Day in November 2021, the Founder Institute hosted our first-ever $100,000 Veteran Pitch Competition, and over 500+ entrepreneurs, investors, media, and tech executives registered to watch the live pitches from the up-and-coming veteran business finalists.

We were pleased to welcome Navy Seal, Author, and CEO Mark Divine as the special event's keynote speaker. Mark Divine served 20 years as a Navy SEAL officer, retiring as a Commander in 2011, and is an expert in human performance, mental toughness, leadership, and physical readiness. He is also the founder of several highly successful enterprises, including but not limited to SEALFIT and - watch his keynote talk here: 

Applications were open to any U.S.-based company that (1) has an Active Service Member, Veteran, or Military Spouse on the Executive team, and (2) has raised less than $2MM in funding. After receiving pitch entry applications from more than 130+ veteran entrepreneurs, just seven finalists were selected to pitch live in the final event - see each finalist founder’s pitch and investor Q&A below! 

Watch All 7 Finalist Veteran Pitches + Investor Q&As:

Herbert Dwyer, CEO at EMPEQ

EMPEQ is an integrated mobile and cloud-based app to help the $2.7B market of energy engineers, asset managers, and building owners to digitized their historically pen-and-paper-heavy commercial equipment data capture processes. 

Aaron Davis, CEO at Mountain Aerospace Research Solutions

Mountain Aerospace Research Solutions is the manufacturer of new design of jet engine called the Fenris (Mark 2 X-Ray), which aims to change the aerospace industry by reducing emissions and launch costs through the engine’s efficiency gains.

Margo Baines, Founder at Enrichly 

Enrichly are experts in self-esteem development, strategically leveraging technology and data to help the 60+ million children around the world who suffer from unhealthy low self-esteem. 

Clark Yuan, Co-Founder at Candelytics

Candelytics is democratizing access to 3D data, to enhance interactions with the physical world through Lidar digital infrastructure and analytics, making clear and quantitative sense from complex 3D data sets. 

Dr. Matthew Provencher, CEO at Proven Performance Technology

Proven Performance Technology has given battle-tested data to the fans, provide a competitive advantage in fantasy sports and wagering through use predictive analytics and behind the scenes information. 

Matthew Shieh, Founder at Canopy Aerospace

Canopy Aerospace is protection at scale for space exploration, composites manufacturing that provides commercial thermal protection systems for the emerging space and hypersonic industries through advanced manufacturing processes. 

Brian Ferguson, CEO & Founder at Arena Labs

Arena Labs offers proven tools and human know-how in performance science platform that allows medical industry professionals to better manage their workplace stresses and pressures, and ultimately prevent clinician burnout. 

Congratulations to Co-Founder Clark Yuan and team Candelytics, who were named the winner of the live pitch event finale on Wednesday, November 17th by the panel of distinguished investor judges below, and offered the $100,000 investment from the Founder Institute’s special event partner!

The panel of distinguished investor judges for the $100k competition finale event included: 

  • Mike Sherbakov - CEO of Greatness Collective and General Partner at The Veteran Fund
  • Emily McMahan - Deputy Director at Common Mission Project and Co-Founder & General Partner at Academy Investor Network
  • James Africano - Startup Advisor, National Security Investor, Air Force Reserve Officer, and currently a Partner at Regolith Ventures
  • Taylor Mclemore - Founder & Board Director for Patriot Boot Camp & Managing Director at TechStars

You can see the complete, uninterrupted event replay below, which also includes the some additional event setup and full investor panelist introductions, and final remarks from the event winner, Candelytics Co-Founder Clark Yuan:

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Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $1.5 billion in funding, and building products people love across over 200 cities worldwide.

See the most recent news from our Grads at, or learn more about their stories at

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