Count Me In and Capital One Host National Conference to Help Women Veteran Entrepreneurs Accelerate the Growth of their Small Businesses and Create New Jobs

First African-American Female Combat Pilot Will Inspire Women Entrepreneurs from Across the Country and Provide a Motivational Speech on Leadership and Success
Apr 24, 2013 12:00 PM ET
Press Release

MCLEAN, Va., April 24, 2013 /3BL Media/ - To help women veteran entrepreneurs fuel the growth of their small businesses and create new jobs for veterans and civilians across the country, Capital One Financial Corporation recently partnered with Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence to develop the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC), a new training and mentorship program designed to help established women small business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans conquer daily business challenges and plan ahead for future growth and success.

As part of its $800,000 commitment to supporting the WVEC program, Capital One today announced that it will bring together women veterans and business growth experts from across the country to participate in the inaugural WVEC Conference on April 29 through April 30, 2013 at Capital One’s headquarters in McLean, Va.

The conference will feature a business pitch competition that will give the winners an opportunity to join Count Me In’s celebrated Business Accelerator Program. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of panels and workshops, some of which will be led by established women veteran small business owners and Capital One professionals will offer coaching and mentoring during the event.

“The skills and qualities that made these women outstanding military members – a strong work ethic, discipline, the creativity needed to overcome obstacles – are precisely the qualities that can translate to business success,” said Tatiana Stead, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Capital One, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), United States Air Force Reserve. “Through our partnership with Count Me In, Capital One is combining our expertise in small business development with our commitment to help entrepreneurial women vets grow their businesses –– a step that not only benefits them personally but also supports local economies and job growth.”

At the WVEC Conference and Competition, participating women will:

  • Learn growth strategies from nationally renowned small business experts.
  • Meet women who have built their ideas into million dollar successes through Count Me In programs, who will offer advice and insights on how to think like a CEO, position a business for success, improve work-life balance, and more.
  • Pitch their businesses for a chance to join Count Me In’s celebrated Business Accelerator Program, a six-month intensive business education program designed to help women grow their businesses significantly within 18-36 months.
  • Connect with motivated women veteran entrepreneurs from across the country in a variety of business sectors – new clients, vendors and peers.

To help women prepare for the conference, Count Me In has been hosting a series of free Pitch Parties for the past six months in select cities across the U.S. for interested business owners. At these events, participating women practice their two-minute business pitch and receive expert feedback and network with other women veteran entrepreneurs.

The WVEC Conference and Competition will feature an exciting roster of informative and inspiring speakers and small business growth experts from the military and civilian business world, including:

  • Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour, VAI Consulting and Training, LLC; America's First African American Female Combat Pilot;
  • Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Retired) and Board President, Women In Military Service For America Memorial;
  • Nicole Baldwin, Owner & Founder, BAIO Skincare;
  • Amanda Crow, Owner, PostNet Business Services;
  • Harvetta Spann, Co-Founder, The “WAVE” Women as Veteran Entrepreneurs, US Army Veteran;
  • Tatiana Stead, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Capital One, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), United States Air Force Reserve;
  • Alicia Marie, Managing Director, PeopleBiz Inc.;
  • Heather Cox, Executive Vice President, Operations, Capital One;
  • Cassaundra St. John, CEO and Founder, F7 Group;
  • Susan Wilson, Founder & CEO, The Judgment Group, Spouse of US Military Veteran;
  • With Dawn Halfaker, CEO, Halfaker & Associates, Board President, Wounded Warriors Project;
  • Cassaundra St. John, CEO, F7 Group;
  • Theresa Daytner, CEO, Daytner Construction Group;
  • Leah Brown, Lead Innovator, A10 Clinical Solutions;
  • Stacey Schieffelin, CEO, YBF Beauty, and
  • Dr. Garnett Newcombe, CEO, Human Potential Consultants.

“The energy and motivation that women veterans bring to their business ventures is unmatched, and we are very excited to use our experience helping women reach their entrepreneurial potential to help this important - and growing - group of new entrepreneurs,” said Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In. “Through the WVEC Conference, women veteran entrepreneurs are being given the opportunity to be trained and mentored by established women veteran business leaders who have faced similar obstacles and are committed to helping fellow veterans address their biggest challenges and successfully grow their business.”

Forty-six percent of U.S. women veteran business owners say that being a business owner has helped them transition to civilian life after military service, according to a survey conducted by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Capital One Financial Corporation. More than half (55 percent) of women vets said it was their leadership experience in the military that inspired them to start their own business, according to the survey.

Women vets face a number of challenges to growing their businesses, found the Count Me In and Capital One study. For example, nearly half of the women surveyed (46 percent) report that they do not have business plans in place for the next one to two years, a shortcoming that can impact growth and profitability. They also recognize that they have more to learn about building and expanding their business. Twenty-eight percent say their greatest need is learning about securing new customers, while 24 percent say they need guidance in gaining access to capital. Other issues women veteran business owners report facing include managing finances and cash flow (19 percent), creating a marketing strategy (15 percent) and developing a clear strategy for growth (14 percent).

The WVEC program builds on Capital One’s three-year, $4.5 million commitment to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, a program that provides job fairs and workforce training initiatives across the United States for veterans and military spouses. In March 2012, Capital One, the U.S. Chamber and National Chamber Foundation announced “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.

Capital One’s partnership with Count Me In is aligned with its commitment to helping aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses of every size grow and thrive – whether it’s directly through their products and services, or through innovative partnerships and programs like WVEC that provide tailored business training, mentoring, and other professional support and resources.

About Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence
Count Me In is the leading not-for-profit provider of business education and resources for women interested in growing their micro-businesses into million-dollar enterprises. Founded in 1999, the organization inspires and instructs thousands of women business owners online, at live events, and through peers, coaches and experts to significantly increase revenues and create new jobs. CMI has developed a reputation nationally and internationally for accelerating business growth and positioning women in the forefront of global economic recovery. For more information on Count Me In programs and resources visit

About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 900 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A. offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities - good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families - benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

Shelley Solheim, 917-589-6203,

Jodi Brockington, 212-245-1245 x201,