BTU# 40 – Annie Taft: Founding a company while in the Army and following your passion

“They kept saying: “forget about what job you want, what do you want to do?” It dawned on me and that day I ended up applying to culinary school. That’s what I want to do! Forget about this corporate route I’m headed to, forget about business school. Unfortunately, the culinary school I was enrolled in when out of business a month before I left the Army. But it was a great sign that I had already made that jump, that the options were so much broader than I was giving myself credit for. In that sense, the floodgates were already open in terms of telling myself that I could do this type of work full time. That was the distinct moment from it being a hobby to knowing that I could do this.”
 – Annie Taft

Annie Taft is the Founder & Executive director of The Brazen Gourmand, which is a Lifestyle brand for the culinarily curious. She started out at West Point, where she graduated 17th in her class and served in the Army for over five years as part of the intelligence community. When she left the Army, she participated in the Stanford Ignite Program, after which she started three different companies, of which The Brazen Gourmand is one.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • What it was like starting a company while still on Active Duty, and advice for veterans seeking to do the same
  • What Annie’s day-to-day life looks like as an entrepreneur
  • How Annie knew when to turn her hobby into a business
  • An overview of the Stanford Ignite program, and why veterans aspiring to entrepreneruship should consider it
  • Additional resources Annie would recommend for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs
  • And much, much more…

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Links

  • A startup podcast that Annie has listened to and really enjoyed is called Startup: https://gimletmedia.com/show/startup/
  • The Brazen Gourmand – http://www.thebrazengourmand.com/
  • Stanford Ignite – https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/stanford-ignite/campus/post-9-11-veterans
  • Vet Tech Trek
  • Boots to business
  • 1 Million Cups – weekly meeting of entrepreneurs (every week someone pitches their idea, surrounded by likeminded people

Show Notes

  • 2:03 – Annie’s background
  • 2:30 – An overview of Annie’s current company, The Brazen Gourmand
  • 3:40 – What Annie’s day-to-day life looks like as an entrepreneur
  • 10:00 – What it was like starting a company while still on Active Duty, and advice for veterans seeking to do the same
  • 11:36 – The point at which Annie knew she could turn a hobby into a business
  • 20:30 – Some of the challenges Annie faced while starting her company
  • 24:30 – An overview of the Stanford Ignite program
  • 35:10 – Why veterans should consider the Stanford Ignite veteran track
  • 39:05 – Additional resources Annie would recommend for aspiring veteran entrepreneurs
  • 42:30 – Final words of wisdom