Military American Dream Blog

Military Entrepreneur Challenge: Austin, TX

The Second Service Foundation’s first 2023 Military Entrepreneur Challenge cohort of nine Finalists was fierce. After a lengthy review of one-pager submissions, nine military-connected entrepreneurs were chosen and invited to Austin, TX, to pitch their businesses. We knew we had chosen incredible entrepreneurs, but who would win? 

Each Finalist was interviewed the week before the pitch competition. After every interview, our Community Outreach Manager would respond “wow, they are brilliant!” to the team. Every business was meaningful and personal. Every pursuit recognized a gap and filled a need. Every entrepreneur was well spoken and passionate.

Nine Finalists were whittled down to the Top Three by a phenomenal panel of judges: Cameron Cruse, Cofounder and COO of R. Riveter, Daniel Sylvester, partner at Holland & Knight LLP, and Curtez Riggs, Director of Military Events at Recurrent Ventures. Though it was a tough choice for our judges, Kayla Corbitt of Operation Child Care, Jaden Risner of Family Proud, Inc., and Hannah Simms of Rise Alone Therapy, LLC, moved on to the final round of the Military Entrepreneur Challenge, where they pitched live on stage in front of an audience. The audience held the power of the vote, and when they were tallied, we had our winner: Hannah Simms!

A licensed clinical social worker who always knew she wanted to provide independent therapy, Hannah identified the specific need within the military community for mental health care. After engaging with many military families who wanted to seek mental health help but were fearful of repercussions, she was driven to make it a reality. Hannah worked tirelessly for two years to get Rise Alone Therapy off the ground, and within a week, her schedule was nearly full. With multiple requests for marriage counseling, and recognizing that military life is difficult on marriages, her plans for the Second Service Foundation grant and pro-bono legal services from Holland & Knight LLP are to pour back into the business to help others. Hannah says, “I’ve gotten multiple requests for marriage counseling, and I am not a marriage counselor. I would love to hire an LMFT [licensed marriage and family therapist], or a PsyD [Doctor of Psychology], whoever can do marriage counseling … I view the more we grow as the more lives we’re able to impact, so that would be the first thing. That’s my goal. That’s actually a goal that I would like to get done by mid this year is get someone hired.”

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