From Service to Startup: Veterans Making Their Way as Small Business EntrepreneursCarolyn Crummey
Jacob McShea, Founder and CEO
Returning from combat duty in Iraq, U.S. Army infantry veteran Jacob McShea struggled to adjust back to civilian life. Calling on his inner entrepreneurial “spirit animal”, Jacob decided to forge his own path and create the work environment and job that he wanted to do. Having always been drawn to pop culture heroes, Jacob decided to follow the passion and in June 2014 he enlisted his brother Zachary and launched HeroCrate, a new “mystery package” service themed around beloved heroes from comic books, video games, movies, television and pop culture.
“I was struggling with my return to civilian life, worrying about circumstances and past events I could not change. For me diving headfirst into my own business was exactly what I needed to distract myself,” said Jacob. “When you’re starting a business that you are passionate about, you don’t have time to worry about much else but to make it successful. The exhilaration I now feel, having built something from the ground up that my family shares with me and that provides financially for my family is great. Having it also bring joy into the lives of others was worth every painful moment and often excruciatingly long days.”
“My brother and I came up with the idea and wanted to do something different. We wanted to focus an entire box on one character rather than a general theme for each month,” said Jacob. “We have always been drawn to hero characters and wanted something to highlight our favorites while encouraging our community with the message that we ALL have the potential to be heroes. Using our motto ‘Defend Your Inner Hero,’ we moved forward on the idea and took to social media to build awareness.”
Building the business has been tough for these brothers, but through strong mentorship and advisement from others, they’ve been able to build the business and launch their first three crates to a growing customer base. “Having mentors while starting-up, in my case and in my opinion, is the single most important thing that will lead you or your business to success”, offers Jacob.
And while creating an amazing product, changing an industry and creating a successful business is a huge motivator for getting up every morning, Jacob and Zachary are more concentrated on creating a happy experience and keeping a new generation interested in comics and heroes.
“The best moment thus far was getting to see an unboxing video from an 8 year old girl,” says Jacob. “If you can bring a smile to a child’s face and more importantly keep a generation interested in comics and heroes, well then – that’s what it’s all about for me.”
Jacob’s advice to other veterans considering starting a business: “Figure out what you know and what you don’t – find supportive people to help mentor in weak areas. Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is what leads to success.”