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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Marine Veteran Struggles To Start His Own Business

Matt Victoriano, a former Marine sniper, and founder of Intrepid Life Brewing. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)

Matt Victoriano, a former Marine sniper, and founder of Intrepid Life Brewing. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)

Matt Victoriano served two tours of duty as a Marine sniper team leader in Iraq.

Since he came home in 2004, he has battled post-traumatic stress disorder.

He has also struggled to find meaningful work.

We met Victoriano a year ago, when we were covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

He told us about his business plan to open a microbrewery. This brewery would also serve as an incubator for fellow veterans, to help them open their own businesses.

Today, Victoriano is getting ready to open a combination coffee shop-bar in Durham, North Carolina, called Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirit.

Although the microbrewery idea did not pan out for Victoriano, he did not let that deter him from becoming an entrepreneur.

“Part of my training as a Marine was to improvise, adapt and overcome, so I have been able to take the biggest part of my business plan — the social aspect — and carry that over to a new business plan that actually is about to start, hopefully,” Victoriano said.

Victoriano says getting a loan was the hardest part of getting his business off the ground, and part of the reason he was unable to pursue the microbrewery.

Victoriano thought that a loan from the Small Business Administration would be streamlined and easier for veterans, through the Patriot Express Loan.

“It’s extremely, extremely difficult to get financing,” Victoriano said. “I don’t know how many times people have asked, ‘Why don’t you use the V.A.’s small business loan?’ And I’m like, ‘They don’t have one.'”

When the micro-brewery fell through, Victoriano adapted.

“When I realized I wouldn’t be able to get the necessary funding, I looked at all my financial options,” Victoriano said. “It was a combination of having credit card access, having my wife’s parents give me a good portion of their retirement … and then the City of Durham actually had a competitive business grant, and fortunately, I won it.”

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