• Six and Twenty

Meet David Raad - EBV Accelerate Graduate and VeteranEDGE Acceleration Challenge Winner

Nicolette Hoffman

Powdersville, a quaint, farming town nestled eight miles away from the popular town of Greenville, South Carolina is home to Six & Twenty Distillery.

David Raad, the owner of Six & Twenty, saw a need for local, fine aged spirits not only in the United States, but all over the world. He vowed to produce the best of the best in an industry known for being notoriously difficult to break into, where established brands have been operating for the last decade.

Six & Twenty produces premium, locally sourced whisky, bourbon, vodka and gin. After opening in 2011 as a local South Carolina distillery, Six & Twenty has now grown into a national company with spirits being sold throughout the United States. “If you can make sugar to yeast and call it a spirit, we will make it,” said Raad.

Raad credits many of his company’s accomplishments to his participation in the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) Accelerate program.

“When you are in the weeds dealing with the day-to-day challenges of a small business, it forces you think of your tactical versus strategic path to success. The EBV Accelerate program gave me a great chance to share thoughts and challenges with peers, rethink my strategic plan, and most importantly review the strengths and weaknesses of my business,” said Raad. “A strong SWOT review presented by the programs talented and experienced presenters led me to change my path to market, my sales planning and budgeting, and wholesale expansion process.”

Developed in partnership between the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University and the Jim Moran Institute, the EBV Accelerate program provides veterans with the tools and coaching to propel their business to the next phase: sustainable growth. Offered at no cost to its participants, graduates of other IVMF programs are also eligible.

Raad recently won the D’Aniello Family Foundation Acceleration Challenge at IVMF's Veteran EDGE Conference March 5-8 in Dallas, Texas. The annual conference is an opportunity for stakeholders, IVMF program graduates, and veteran and military-spouse business owners from around the country will gather to network, and learn about the latest opportunities, best practices, and resources available to their growing companies.

Sponsored by Dan and Gayle D’Aniello, the acceleration challenge is a one-day event where 10 selected veteran or military-spouse business owners have the opportunity to work with business experts to redevelop their business plan and determine what they can do in order to continue on a trajectory of growth and success.

“The D’Aniello Acceleration Challenge is a unique and exclusive opportunity for veteran entrepreneurs like David to take their business to the next level,” says Misty Stutsman Fox, director of the ARSENAL entrepreneurship and small business programs at the IVMF. “Through the generosity of Dan D’Aniello, a veteran and entrepreneur himself as well as a longtime friend and donor of the IVMF and Syracuse University, the challenge pushes businesses to work collaboratively in order to look critically at what is holding them back, and then break down those barriers with the help of financial and social capital.”

Each business owner is nominated and must go through an application process before being selected for the challenge. The selected companies are required to have participated in one of IVMF’s programs to be eligible. “We are looking for businesses that have been in business for a couple years, have had scaling, and may have hit a plateau,” said Fox.

“The best way to prepare for a challenge like this is to ask yourself a series of questions such as do you understand your business, do you understand what it is you are trying to accomplish, and do you have a clear vision in mind?,” said Raad. “Once you ask these questions, you will find the missing pieces, or where you aren’t as efficient in your business model and be able to pivot from there.”

Upon completion of the acceleration challenge, each company is eligible to apply for up to $10,000 in grant funding from the D’Aniello Family Foundation. The D’Aniello family graciously donates $100,000 each year for the challenge. Raad received the original $10,000 grant prize and an additional $10,000 from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) charity bringing his total earnings to $20,000.

“The Jim Moran Institute team would like to extend a congratulations to David on this wonderful accomplishment and win,” said Melissa Roberts, managing director for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship. “We are always thrilled to see participants of our programs find such tremendous success in their industries.”

For more information about the EBV Accelerate program contact Lindsey Boomer lboomer@jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu.

About the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship
The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship cultivates, trains and inspires entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research. Jim Moran was an automotive pioneer and an entrepreneur at heart, who at the age of 7, sold soda pop at sandlot baseball games in Chicago. With a career that spanned more than six decades, he built an amazing chronicle of achievements in the automobile industry. His vision for the Jim Moran Institute was to provide opportunities that would help others become more successful business owners. A 1995 contribution from Jim and Jan Moran and JM Family Enterprises established the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business. Since 2011, further enhancements to the Jim Moran Institute and its outreach have been made possible by Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation.

About the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Accelerate (EBV Accelerate)
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Accelerate is a first-of-its-kind initiative that equips veteran business owners with the tools and coaching needed to sustain growth. Delivered by Florida State University and Louisiana State University, in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, EBV Accelerate is among IVMF's Arsenal of programs designed to meet veterans wherever they are on their entrepreneurial journey. The program leverages the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans and transitioning service members. Assistance from the US..S Small Business Administration (SBA), corporate partners and donors allows participants to attend the program at no cost. For more information, visit ebv.vets.syr.edu.