First Veterans Entrepreneurship Day

November 9, 2015

Veterans, many say, make ideal entrepreneurs. They’re disciplined. They take ownership. And they bring a certain maturity and global perspective to the table.

And yet, the number of veterans starting their own businesses upon returning to civilian life has plummeted. Veterans represented just 6 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2011, down from 12.3 percent in 1996, according to the Kauffman Foundation. After World War II, that rate hovered near 50 percent.

To support veterans in their entrepreneurial endeavors, Harper College will hold its first Veterans Entrepreneurship Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

“Starting a business takes a lot of hard work and persistence, and no group embodies those qualities more than veterans,” said Marie Lapidus, coordinator of Harper’s business administration and entrepreneurship programs. “We want to celebrate their success and support them any way we can.”

The event, which is free and open to the community, will feature a panel of successful veteran business owners. There will also be a business expo, refreshments and networking opportunities.

Among the panelists will be Mark Quigley, who founded Deziner Software in Naperville with his son, Matt Quigley, and Greg Syme. All three are veterans of the U.S. Navy. The company’s software helps new and existing businesses create financial planning and business development models.

Matt Quigley, who was in surface warfare, said a two-week transition assistance program for people leaving the military spent just a few minutes talking about starting a company. He thinks veterans are suited to be entrepreneurs and wants to see more head down that path.

“A lot of it has to do with education,” he said. “We need to emphasize the importance of veteran entrepreneurship, help them pitch their ideas and understand what it’s all about.”

The event will take place in the Wojcik Conference Center on Harper’s main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. For more information or to register, visit or contact Marie Lapidus at 847.925.6978 or

Media contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159