FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business


Boost a Hero uses veteran business model

Tom Perez
Navy veteran Tom Perez has raised nearly $7,000 through Boost a Hero. He closed on a deal to buy a Meineke Car Care Center franchise in the Panhandle in May. [Photo: Hana Frenette]

Entrepreneurs Mark Mohler and Todd Jones have created an online fundraising program called Boost a Hero that gives honorably discharged veterans a platform for raising money to buy a franchise of their choice.

Sprigster, the Melbourne-based business launched early this year to oversee the program, signs up qualifying vets. Once approved by a franchisor, the vet’s story is posted at the Sprigster.com website. Veterans generally qualify for financial aid, small-business loans and discounted franchise fees. But Sprigster makes the hurdle easier to clear because friends, family, groups and private donors can contribute online. The concept is called “crowd funding.”

Sprigster charges a 5% fee of total funds raised and provides coaching to help veterans promote their fundraising goal through social media and other resources. Navy veteran Tom Perez, in Pensacola, is one of the first participants and hopes to raise $30,000 for a Meineke Car Care Center franchise in the Panhandle, where thousands of active-duty and retired military reside. Through early May, more than 30 people had pledged nearly $7,000 toward his goal.

Jones, Sprigster’s senior vice president of business development, says that the company plans to expand in the next year by helping entrepreneurs raise equity online, now that the federal JOBS Act has been signed into law. The regulations are still being written, but the Jumpstart Our Business Startups law would allow small businesses to raise up to $1 million a year in stock sales without Securities and Exchange Commission registration. “That’s going to really be huge,” Jones says, “and we want to be in the forefront of that.”