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Friday, January 24, 2014

Marine Corps Vet Finally Opens His Own Business

Here & Now’s Robin Young first met Matt Victoriano at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte. He was struggling with PTSD and also struggling to open his own business. We’ve been following him ever since (hear Robin’s October interview with him here).

Now, his dream has finally come true, thanks to a lot of his own hard work and financial help from his family. Intrepid Life Coffee And Spirits, a combination coffee shop and bar, is opening in Durham tomorrow. Robin Young paid a visit.

Interview Highlights: Matt Victoriano

On his frustrations over financing

Matt Victoriano and Robin Young pose for a photo in front of Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits. (Robin Young/Here & Now)

Matt Victoriano and Robin Young pose for a photo in front of Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits. (Robin Young/Here & Now)

“Like a lot of people, I assumed there was veteran financing. There’s a VA home loan, and I, like so many other people, thought there would be a small business loan. And there wasn’t, and I wasn’t in a position financially to give banks or investors a reason, I guess, to invest in me. So I had to put it on credit cards, and my wife had to put it on credit cards … And her parents took out money from their retirement. And that’s what got us to this point.”

On why he wanted to start a business

“It was the only hope I saw for myself. I had tried so many different ventures and jobs over the last 10 years that they wouldn’t fit for me, I wouldn’t fit for them. My mind state wasn’t right … [the PTSD] is still there. And that’s why – I mean, it’s given me the strength for this. This process has enabled me to look inside and become humble and do a lot of evaluating, and I want to provide that for other veterans and help them out.”

On getting through it 

“When I started this, I was like, ‘I’m a veteran, I can do anything. Look at what I did in the military. I can accomplish anything.’ And time dragged on. Money went away. Everything was a problem … And then I got to a point where I thought, ‘It can’t get any worse. I’m gonna lose the space. I’m gonna get divorced. Nobody likes me. I failed at this. The inspection failed. What am I doing?’ And then, that left me the choice: I can kill myself, I can run away, or I can push through it and make it a success. After those failures, I couldn’t keep looking at people and saying, ‘I’m a badass,’ because I wasn’t. I messed a lot of things up. And so at that point, I had to laugh and be like, ‘Yeah, I messed it up, but I’m gonna keep going until I can’t go anymore.'”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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