VetStart is helping veterans find a new call of duty after serving their country.

A University of Louisville business start-up program, VetStart is a free class to help Kentucky veterans start their own businesses. In its fifth year, it has helped more than 60 local vets become entrepreneurs, according to the Director of Nucleus Program Administration, Dr. Mary Tapolsky. 

The founder of Thermonator Inc., Kevin Stevenson, used the class to help sell his athletic headband. Athletes use the Thermonator on the sidelines to stay cool and prevent heat stroke.

“It's a pretty easy product to use,” Stevenson said. “Generally speaking, a football player would wear these for about 10 or 15 minutes after coming off the field, and then when he goes back on the field, the trainer would put it back in the freezer. When they come back, it's cold again and it would last throughout the ball game.”

Before Stevenson served in the Kentucky Air National Guard, he invented the Thermonator. 

“I was in avionics and instrument repair,” he said.

He tried to sell his product for years, but ran into some problems. That’s when he applied for the VetStart program to finally get his product off the ground.

“Any military veteran with a DD214 and an interest in entrepreneurship is eligible to apply,” Tapolsky said.

The program helped Stevenson find a local manufacturer, it helped him identify and grow his customer base and it advised him with marketing and advertising.

“After the program was over, they also gave me $1,000 to cover invoices of my expenses, so it's an amazing program for vets,” Stevenson said.

Now, when Stevenson watches college football teams like Alabama, Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky on TV, his headband will occasionally make an appearance on the sidelines.

“I think it's a really great idea to get in the VetStart program,” Stevenson said.

The program is now accepting applications for the spring semester. To apply, click here

The class at iHub on Floyd Street in Louisville every Thursday for ten weeks starting February 16.

Applications are due on Friday, Jan. 27. 

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