Featured EBV Alumnus: Edgard Sanchez
C'est Tout Bon 2 Eat
Edgard Sanchez was working a secure warehouse job. A veteran of the U.S. military having transitioned back to civilian life, he could easily have stayed where he was, comfortable in the day-to-day routine of earning a steady paycheck for an honest day's work. But he knew there was something more for him.
"My partner Milton and I worked in a warehouse together, and we often spoke of goals and dreams," says Edgard. "So it was a mutual decision to chase our dream of being entrepreneurs."
Today, Edgard and Milton operate a food truck in the Atlanta metropolitan and surrounding areas. Edgard is a New Orleans native and an alumnus of culinary school, and he created the food truck's New Orleans-fare-based menu. "Meeting new people every day is exciting, but getting them to try something new is the most challenging. The ability to put a smile on someone's face after they bite into something I've created is the most fulfilling thing."
Although he and Milton already knew they wanted to pursue a food-truck concept, Edgard credits the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) with giving him the fundamentals to succeed, saying, "EBV is a great opportunity to set yourself up for success by being educated about aspects of the business that were never considered."
EBV is a national program, implemented by the institutions in the EBV Consortium. The Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA) has been a consortium member since 2012, bringing unparalleled expertise in hospitality and food-and-beverage entrepreneurship to the program.
EBV recognizes that U.S. military veterans with disabilities not only face unique challenges, but also offer unique skills and perspectives. The program is built to both acknowledge and make the most of that reality, aiming to guide participants through the key principles of—and transition to—self-employment, and giving them the tools and resources to get started on the path to success in often-crowded marketplaces.
Asked what influence his military experience had on his entrepreneurial ambitions, Edgard says that without it, he may have postponed opening a business. "I was taught to achieve, lead from the front, adapt to change, and never accept defeat. A lot of my training and mentality have made entrepreneurship easy."
EBV-Cornell is coordinated by the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at SHA, which channels SHA's unique business-grounded-in-hospitality ethos into numerous programs and events throughout the year. When Edgard was looking into EBV and considering the various participating institutions, his specific interests were what drew him to SHA. "Since my decision was a mobile restaurant, the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell was the obvious choice," he says.
EBV-Cornell also benefits from being taught by SHA's renowned and accomplished faculty. "Attending a prestigious school, with the quality and enthusiasm of every instructor, was the most memorable for me," recalls Edgard. "The personalized advice and feedback for my concept and plan for business ownership is what I took away."
Today, Edgard is confident in his decision to attend EBV and pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. "My partner and I left our secure jobs to start this adventure and haven't looked back," he says. "Attending EBV was instrumental in our success and we are happier for it."
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