For some veterans, transitioning out of the military and into the workforce can be a challenging task. And for veterans who are interested in entering the tech world, it can feel isolating and unclear on how to successfully integrate into the field. Luckily, there are amazing entrepreneurs that are invested in veterans employment that provide support and mentorship to make the transition more successful.
I had the privilege of attending an event called Vets in the Valley in Menlo Park, California on May 22nd with Mark Leslie, managing director at Leslie Ventures which was hosted by Andreessen Horowitz’ a16z general partner Peter Levine. Mark Leslie has been in the tech industry for over 30 years and has run three Silicon Valley startups. He was the founding CEO of Veritas and one of his greatest professional accomplishments was building the company from 12 employees to 5,500 and increasing revenue from $95,000 per year to $1.5 billion per year. In 2000, Veritas was the 10th largest independent software company by revenue, third largest by market capitalization, and a Fortune 1000 company.
The Vets in the Valley event brought together around 50 veterans and representatives from veteran focused companies invested in providing pathways and access for the veteran community into the tech world. Mark Leslie led a conversation about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, the problems and opportunities faced by startups today, and how to leverage skills from the military to build a career in the tech industry. The objective of the event was to build and strengthen the network of veterans in tech, expand that network within Silicon Valley and encourage inclusivity within the broader technology community.
Mark Leslie provided insights, wisdom and encouragement for veterans building careers in the tech industry and shared his perspective on how Silicon Valley has changed over the years and his observation that breaking into the tech world today is easier than it was when he began his career. He supports the military and veteran communities and recognizes the importance of building and utilizing a network of support so that veterans have a strong community to tap into as they integrate into careers in tech. Mark Leslie also highlighted the importance of transparency and authenticity as it relates to running a company, business and the professional world in general, and made parallels between the importance of loyalty and trust in the military and in successful business.
I had meaningful and thoughtful conversations with veterans in attendance that are in the process of progressing their own startups and elevating their careers. I also had the opportunity to connect with Katherine Webster, the founder of VetsInTech, an impactful and powerful organization that supports veterans with re-integration services and connections with the national technology ecosystem. I also had the pleasure to connect with Ian Faison, Chief Content Officer at The Mission, a company that helps mission-driven companies build trust and connect with customers and provides audiences with ways to upgrade their health, wealth, wisdom, tech and careers. Ian is also the co-founder of VETCON, the largest conference for military veteran startups in Silicon Valley.
Support and powerful insights from top CEOs like Mark Leslie are critical in actualizing a successful network for veterans. And this support paves the way for connections and relationship building in the tech world, fostering a community of support and a thriving network for veterans to further their goals and dreams.