PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Sean Maloney is hoping his new hot sauce business, 13 Stars, sizzles.
“Our first official batch is going to be this Saturday,” Maloney said. “Very, very excited for that.”
13 Stars is one of at least 850 veteran-owned small businesses in Rhode Island, according to R.I. Secretary of State Office.
“Small businesses across Rhode Island, they drive our economy,” said Kasim Yarn, director of R.I. Veterans Affairs. “To see yesterday’s warriors become our future entrepreneurs is an amazing journey.”
The journey isn’t always easy, according to Marco Capaldi of the Veterans Business Outreach Center.
“For a veteran, it’s hard because a lot of folks have not had traditional business training,” Capaldi said. “A lot of times the skills that you have in the military don’t necessarily translate that easy into business.”
“Rhode Island specifically has an excellent opportunity,” Capaldi added. “We have a lot of Naval Station folks who are transplants from other places that decide to start businesses here and begin their life.”
In an effort to help veterans overcome some of the unique challenges of going from the battlefield into business, R.I. Secretary of State, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Veterans Business Outreach Center and the R.I. Office of Veterans Affairs teamed up to host the first annual veterans small business fair in Providence Thursday.
“We want to make sure our veterans in Rhode Island know there are a lot of different ways we can help them start and grow their business,” said Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. “These are people who gave to our country. We should be giving back to them.”
Maloney said he has relied on strong mentorships and partnerships through veterans programs to launch his business.
“Anybody that’s in business knows that networking is key,” he said. “It really just gives you all the tools.”