I have always hated the term 'networking', it just seems something grown ups do and spending 8 years in the Marines I have never truly felt like growing up!! However lets reframe it and say we are going for lunch at TGI Fridays (other restaurants are available) with Ben and Gaz from Offensive Veteran and Becoming the 0.1% respectively and now you have a deal.
I should say that I have been friends with these guys online for a while now, and they seemed like my type of people. However, it's like online dating, you could meet and they just don't laugh at your jokes (note for civvies, not all veterans are buddies). The military tends to have some big personalties and inevitably sometimes they clash and egos are bruised.
Luckily for the three of us that wasn't the case, with introductions made and the obvious piss taking out of each other's rig it was down to the important stuff, ordering food!!
Over the course of the next couple of hours, we spun dits in between mouthfuls of scran or scoff as Ben likes to say and shared ideas for how each of our own Veteran Owned businesses could improve and services we could offer. Time flew by and our next challenge was navigating the bill, with two Marines and an engineer sat round the table, it was never going to be easy but between the three of us we got there in the end.
All in all a successful day was had by everyone involved, and as I write this we have our next lunch - ahem networking day - firmly in the diary, but with John from Robustours joining us.
In summary, business can be a harsh environment and as Veterans we owe it to each other to support, push and when required to listen to our mate vent his frustrations.
In our way to support our friends and veteran owned businesses we came up with twelve questions for them to answer to help spread their message via our platform. We are calling this segment 'Eyes On'.
When Ben & Andy started the brand it was forged by two like minded individuals cut from the same cloth. Their mission is to put their own spin on clothing, introducing their own military inspired apparel.
They bring their military background into the foundations of Offensive Veteran, designing some of their products from time served but also experimenting with themes based round different periods in history & events.
If you hadn’t have joined the military, what would you have done instead? Ben: Prison... Jokes. I have no idea most likely a civi plumber.
Andy: No idea Army life was always for me
What was the highlight of your military career? Ben: Serving with my brothers in the Royal Engineers & smashing the green keen life. Andy: The guys you serve with!
When did you leave the military and have you had any other jobs since then? Ben: I was MD (medically discharged) in 2015, after leaving I set up my first hobby/business in 2016 doing scrap motor dismantle. After a year of that I found it a hard niche to keep up to & moved on to another hobby/business in 2017 bespoke furniture which I still do in my spare time.
Andy: I left a few years ago and just basically been enjoying retired life.
Whats the best thing about being a civvy? Ben: Nothing jokes, family & doing my own thing. Andy: There is good parts ?
What made you want to start your own business? Ben: I just like the thought of being my own boss & its always being a life goal to smash it as my own boss. Andy: Ben made me
What is you’re business ethos/mission statement? Ben & Andy: We want a successful business, we want to change the view & relationship between Veteran Owned businesses bringing everyone together as one like we once was. Competition is good but a solid working relationship & network is worth more than profit!!!
Scratching each others backs rather than seeing each other as threats.
What is your favourite and least favourite part of running your business? Ben: Everyday is a school day, mistakes are made but we learn what works & what doesn’t. I love being my own boss. I also like the engagement from customers & other vets. Andy: It keeps me busy. I have not really been doing much since I left the military so this is a new adventure for me.
Have you a favourite item in your store and if so why? Ben: It's a flip between 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' just because its an ally tee or the truckers cap, who does not like a trucker!! Andy: Gotta be our new Emerald Green emblem tee or the truckers caps we have.
What do you do to relax from the stresses of life?
Ben: Scuba diving, shooting, gym & a bit of PS4 Andy: Scuba, shooting, getting fat & a lot of PS4
Have you any epic adventures planned for 2021? Ben: No Covid has pretty much fucked up planning anything, possibly a trip to Canada and paddle the Yukon or maybe scuba somewhere exotic. Andy: A quiet one for me I don’t have any trips planned so far but I’m sure I’ll think of something, all depending on the Covid situation.
Any advice for veterans thinking about starting their own business? Ben: Fucking do it! Get stuck in, reach out to us lot doing it already, theres a lot of pricks out there, up their own arse that will shut you down but do not give up! Reach out to more than one of us and we will give you any advice & assistance possible. Andy: Go for it. We have had a lot of support from our friends, veterans and other veteran companies, there is always people around you who will support you
Finally, what’s the best way to drink coffee? Ben: Theres only one way! The Green Beret Coffee Co way Andy: Probably Hot & In A Cup (I Don’t Drink Coffee )