[in nearby Bristol, CT] and vintage car shows to serve food and spread the word,” Mele said. “Through this organic growth, I am now proud to be booked out through the entire summer of 2016 for events including birthdays, farmers’ markets, and music festivals.”
Much of this success has arisen from the Deli Rescue’s unique menu, which changes based on each event. Customers are pulled in by the unique exterior of the vehicle— which features flashing lights and bright colors—and they stay for the crowd-pleasing food. The truck’s menu is never the same twice and is planned to cater to the palate of the audience attending a particular event.
The groundwork for Mele’s success was laid during his time at EBV, and he could not be happier about discovering the program.
As he says, “If you are absolutely serious about running your own business or even want to get involved in a leadership role, this program is a necessity. For many veterans, college experience is limited, and it is difficult to find the time and money to invest in an entrepreneur’s business education. This program removes those hurdles and wraps everything into nine days, and the connection goes far beyond your time in the program. I am still in regular contact with many of my classmates and mentors who I made connections with while at Cornell.”
Moving forward, Mele would like to grow the vintage and classic brand image of his business, and he is always on the prowl for vintage trucks to eventually build a fleet and create a Deli Rescue family. The serial entrepreneur also hopes to transform the venture into a self-sustaining business, and pass off the reins to start his next entrepreneurial adventure.
EBV is a unique initiative designed to equip veterans with the skills, resources, and support to start their entrepreneurial businesses. Founded at Syracuse University in 2007, EBV programming now exists at ten other universities nationwide. Neil Tarallo, senior lecturer and EBV-Cornell program director, brought EBV to SHA when he left Syracuse University.
At SHA, the annual EBV program starts with a three-week online program focused on providing general business education to veterans. Veterans then come to the Cornell campus for one week with all expenses paid to further develop their business plan, network, and grow their business acumen.
Veterans are also supported by a one-year technical assistance program, which includes mentorship, advice from large law and accounting firms, graphic design, and website development. More importantly, the veterans leave SHA with the lifetime relationships they have developed with other veterans, faculty, and students.
SHA’s EBV program is extremely competitive, seeking applicants who are ready to start their businesses within the next 18 months. Every year, SHA’s EBV program accepts 25 veterans to participate. However, those who aren’t accepted still receive support materials, so they are more prepared the next time they apply.
The focus on food and beverage (F&B) and the veterans’ access to experienced SHA faculty sets this EBV program apart from other institutions.
“It is really amazing to connect expert F&B faculty members with veterans,” Tarallo said. “[SHA]…is all about service, and the military veterans are examples of the utmost service anyone can provide.”
Thus, the EBV program has really benefited everyone involved: Cornell University, veteran entrepreneurs, and the customers that their wonderful businesses serve.
The EBV program has helped veterans start their entrepreneurial journeys and has helped faculty members and student volunteers “gain a sense of appreciation for the role military plays in our society.”
The businesses and approaches of these two EBV alumni are unique, but they are just two of many EBV success stories. SHA continues to support veterans who have concrete business ideas in the F&B sector, encouraging motivated individuals to join this entrepreneurial family, united by a commitment to duty and passion for service.