Catching Up with Our 2017 Winners – Athletes of Valor

Meet Athletes of Valor, a 2017 alum and $50K winner that helps veterans transition from service to careers by leveraging the power of collegiate sports.

Inspired by his own journey re-adjusting to civilian life, Alex Stone (Founder & CEO) and his team had a realization that sports provide the support structure and camaraderie that veterans need when returning home. The platform is free for service members with hopes to increase veterans' retention/engagement on campus and improve employment outcomes.

We had a chance to catch up with Alex about his experience going through the MC accelerator:


Take us back to MassChallenge Awards... what was going through your mind when you heard your startup name called to the stage?
I was lucky because I was the last one to pitch in my group, so by the time I was getting backstage and back over to area where I was supposed to be, they were already starting to announce the first winner... which was Athletes of Valor! It was exciting, rewarding, and a relief all at same time. I’m glad I didn't have time to sit back there and sweat it out!

As a winner, how do you plan to use the cash prize to further accelerate growth?
At our stage of a startup, cash always fuels growth in multiple ways. We constantly have to watch cash flow and evaluate every expenditure to ensure it’s growing our business. We had some tools and resources we can move from the ‘back burner,’ which will drastically increase our efficiency and help grow our business.

What would you say has been the key driver of your success throughout the program?
It’s 100% the access to the mentor network. We had access to some really great mentors and resources that would have otherwise taken months to track down. To have whiteboard sessions on an as-needed basis with experienced entrepreneurs was extremely valuable.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
Things take time! As a founder, you want to move at 120 MPH as at all times, but you might have a customer that wants to schedule a meeting a month out or take weeks to sign their contract and process payment. It’s a good lesson, but always assume everything will take way longer than you plan for.

What advice do you have for startups thinking about applying to MC?
Why wouldn't you? Show me a downside about being part of MC and I’ll buy you a beer. If you do apply, be ready to maximize the experience, have clear goals you want to accomplish, and go crush them!