Independence day is a national call-to-arms, of sorts, to take pride in, remember those who have served and be grateful for the amount of time and lives given to create a country founded and forever growing on the principles of democracy.
This holiday is a chance for all of us united by the stars and stripes to celebrate what each of us holds dear: the opportunity to live in a country which is ideally guided by virtues so inherent as freedom of speech, religion, love and, ultimately, happiness.
In that vein, we are launching a short series of posts over the next few days highlighting American businesses who make it their mission to give back to the veteran community.
Today, meet Jen, co-founder of Bottle Breacher, an online store selling hand-crafted .50-caliber bullet bottle openers. Together with her veteran husband Eli, this duo was able to take a garage side-project all the way to Shark Tank — landing a deal that would change the rest of their lives.
But, Shark Tank isn’t the biggest inspirational story associated with Bottle Breacher. Read on to see how they continue to give back to veteran causes, starting with ensuring that all veterans have a career after their service worth their hard work and dedication.
Bigcommerce: How did Bottle Breacher get started and how do you make giving back to veteran causes a core aspect of your business strategy?
Eli, the company’s founder and my husband, knew that he had a cool product to sell, but had no experience with selling online. He took his product idea of a .50-caliber bottle opener to me and asked to help sell them. I had already seen some success with my own online storefront on Etsy. Within six months, we both knew we were on to something — and were selling hundreds of them out of a one car garage. We decided to try out for Shark Tank, and ended up partnering with two Sharks, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban, in November 2014.
But, our mission at Bottle Breacher is not just to sell as much product as we can. Our mission is to use this platform to provide for our family and bless others, including Veterans and organizations giving back to active duty service personnel and Veterans alike.
Can you talk to why veteran charities and missions are the social cause of choice for Bottle Breacher?
Giving back to the military and veterans, and hiring them, is so important to Bottle Breacher because these are the people that provide the protection for the very freedoms that allow Americans to enjoy the things that we commonly take for granted.
Bottle Breacher didn’t look to hire people with engraving or packaging experience; we knew we could teach them whatever skills they needed to learn. It’s more important to have the skill sets above, because at the end of the day, hard work trumps all.
How does Bottle Breacher give back?
We’re Veteran owned and operated with a 20% veteran hire rate. We feel strongly in giving back to those who have sacrificed by supporting nonprofits that give back to Veterans and Active Duty Soldiers, including Wishes for Warriors, Joggin for Frogmen and the Jesse Pittman Memorial Fund.
Do you have any cool stories about active military men and women or veterans engaging with your brand?
A former Marine and Shark Tank fan reached out to us on our contact us page asking if they could come take a tour of our facility, while they were visiting relatives in Arizona. We, of course, said yes and scheduled a tour.
We took over an hour out of production to stop and make them feel special. It was really exciting because when they were leaving, the former Marine teared up and said this was the best part of their vacation. We made sure to send them off with plenty of customized Bottle Breacher gear, engraved on the spot. It was the least we could do for a man and his family that served our country.
If you could give one piece of advice to those starting businesses for a cause, what would it be?
Realize that you cannot do everything yourself. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and surround yourself with people that are strong where you are weak. Entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do everything on their own to save money and keep control. This usually leads to them getting burned out and making mistakes.
Stay strong. Though it will take a lot of hard work, it’s worth working for yourself. It can be a 24/7 dedication at times, but in the end it’s yours. You’re making the choices. Becoming your own boss is priceless.
For more information on Bottle Breacher’s online success, read their success story here.
Do you have a business for a cause story to share? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll be in touch!
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