Leadership: Garrett FitzGerald Headquarters: Milwaukee What it does: Connects veterans with colleges Founded: 2013 Employees: 10 Next goals: A complete virtual access transition plan for veterans. Helping them determine what they should study, where they should study and what they should do afterward. Funding: $250,000 seed round, 2013; $200,000 series A round, 2015.
From Aug. 18 to 24, about 9,000 American Legion members from around the country descended on Reno, Nevada for the organization’s 99th national convention.[caption id="attachment_328876" align="alignnone" width="770"] Garrett FitzGerald
At the conference, the American Legion rolled out a web platform that will help up to 55,000 veterans across the country find and apply to colleges that match their field of interest. That website was developed by Milwaukee startup Home Front Alliance LLC.
While there are a variety of services available to veterans and service members as they transition out of active duty, they’re mostly focused on employment and financial services. There is less help available in the secondary education arena, said Garrett FitzGerald, founder of Home Front Alliance.
The company got its start with its own platform, CollegeRecon.com. The site launched last year after two-and-a-half years of development, and has been growing steadily by connecting veterans with on-campus admissions representatives. But the partnership with the American Legion will help the 10-employee firm take flight, FitzGerald said.
To put the sheer scale of the American Legion’s reach in perspective: There are about 1,000 average monthly users on CollegeRecon.com. The American Legion expects the new platform to attract 35,000 to 55,000 users from among its 2.3 million members just this year.
“With this new added tool, what they expect just based on their own marketing outreach and efforts and what they do with schools, that’s their target,” FitzGerald said of the American Legion. “It will be definitely our biggest platform so far.”
Home Front Alliance earns its revenue from colleges and universities, which pay for a subscription that allows them to create a profile on the site, post content, advertise and send newsletter promotions to users on its CollegeRecon and American Legion platforms.
The cachet associated with the American Legion has already been beneficial to Home Front Alliance. Instead of calling on colleges, Home Front received more than 50 calls from colleges in the first two weeks of the American Legion platform launch.
“For a while, it was a lot of just us banging down (the American Legion’s) doors,” he said. “It took a year of nonstop calling, emailing, trying as hard as you can to get in.”
The platform is expected to help the American Legion reach veterans fresh out of the military, a group it has been working to target.
“The American Legion, their big focus right now, they have an issue with bringing in new and younger members,” FitzGerald said. “They looked at education as a vital thing to focus on because they’re targeting that younger demographic.” ν