The Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship — known as VIBE — hosts three weekly workshop series Monday through Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to help students apply their education outside of the classroom. Grit City Mondays deal with mental toughness, Technical Tuesdays discuss leadership and pitching ideas, and the Brown Bag series on Wednesdays allows students to hear from successful entrepreneurs.
Each series is held in the VIBE office located in the Tioga Library Building, room 307A.
VIBE began in 2013 with late Chancellor Debra Friedman’s vision to help veterans apply their unique skills to entrepreneurship. Thomas Kuljam became Director of VIBE in 2015 after 20 years in the U.S. military and 24 years in commercial banking.
According to Kuljam, VIBE needed “clarity, consistency and legacy.” While VIBE has a special focus on veterans, their programs are open to all students.
“Students get their formal education in the classroom, I put it into practice,” Kuljam said.
During Grit City Mondays, Travis Daigle — who has experience as an Army Special Forces medic, an engineer and entrepreneur — helps students develop mental toughness and put their ideas into action. Kuljam explained that this series helps students deal with the “why” of going into entrepreneurship and avoid burnout.
Technical Tuesdays help students with leadership skills, confidence and pitching ideas. This series is headed by Kristina Maritczak, who has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer, and Heidi Grace, founder of Heidi Grace Designs.
The Brown Bag series allows students to hear stories from local successful entrepreneurs. Each week is a new speaker but Kuljam explained, “it’s the same story: purpose, purpose, purpose.” Suzanne Boyd — founder and CEO of Olympia-based Anthro-Tech — will speak at the next Brown Bag series on Feb. 28. Each talk is also posted online for students to view.
While many of VIBE’s weekly programs seem to be aimed towards business students, Kuljam believes all students can benefit from their focus on practical knowledge. Kuljam explained that earning a degree is important, but learning how to apply those skills in the world is also necessary. His goal is to get students to think outside of the box.
“I want them to push the envelope,” Kuljam said.