This article originally appeared in Franchising World, May 2013. Read the Original →
Nine years ago, Shilo Harris had probably never envisioned becoming a franchise business owner.
At that point, Harris was just beginning his deployment in Iraq, where he served two tours as a cavalry scout in the U.S. Army. Three years later, in February 2007, his life changed completely when the Humvee he was riding in hit a roadside bomb near Baghdad. He miraculously survived, despite severe injuries.
Harris, who now lives in San Antonio, made an incredible recovery and retired for medical reasons in 2010. Then he thought about what was next.
“I knew that readjusting to civilian life wouldn’t be easy,” he said. “After taking some time to think through my options, I realized that my experience in the Army helped me develop a unique skill set that I wanted to apply toward running my own business.”
Fast forward to today, and Harris is now the owner of a WIN Home Inspection franchise, which was an ideal match for him for some key reasons. WIN is recognized as being a very veteranfriendly franchise brand, with veterans representing over one-quarter of its franchisee base, and it offers a great deal of support to franchisees.
However, before Harris could open for business, he faced a significant obstacle that is not uncommon among small-business owners: access to capital.
To secure the financing he needed, Harris used BoeFly, an online marketplace where his loan application was matched to more than 3,600 lenders nationwide. He connected with Deryl Schuster, president of Midwest Community Bank in Plainville, Kansas – more than 800 miles away from San Antonio – for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, which closed in March 2013.
“Owning this business would not have been possible without the adequate financing, and BoeFly was immensely helpful in connecting me with the loan I needed to get started,” Harris said.
Schuster was just as glad to have met Harris, a relationship he says would not have been possible without BoeFly.
“Shilo had the whole package, not only in terms of the loan package he provided but also the incredible service he has offered to our country,” he said.
In addition to the loan Harris secured through BoeFly, he obtained additional capital from the Veterans Business Fund, a nonprofit established by philanthropists Robert Tannenhauser and Alvin Sarter, to support veterans who lack sufficient equity capital to qualify for a small-business loan – an issue that is all too common among otherwise qualified veterans seeking the path of entrepreneurship.
As a result of the financing support Harris received, Harris was able to open his WIN Home Inspection franchise and create a few new jobs in San Antonio.
“WIN is honored to have Shilo as a franchisee, and his story is a testimony to our commitment toward ensuring that hardworking veterans find success at WIN,” said Steve Wadlington, president of WIN Home Inspection. “We appreciate that BoeFly effectively matched Shilo with the financing he needed.”
By Mike Rozman CFE, co-president of BoeFly, LLC.