About once a day, Drew and Heather Gomer come up with a new idea for a business — so often that there isn't enough time for them to move forward with all of them.
As it is, there's barely enough time for the Oklahoma City couple to help each other with the ideas they are pursuing, Drew Gomer said. But each understands how demanding owning and operating a business can be.
Although the ideas have come naturally, the two needed help from more experienced entrepreneurs to put them into practice. For that, they found an Oklahoma State University program designed to help disabled veterans launch their own businesses.
Heather Gomer served in the U.S. Army for five years as an air traffic controller. Drew Gomer, also an Army veteran, was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. The two met in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and married a year later in Australia, between Drew Gomer's deployments.
Today, Heather Gomer is the CEO and co-founder of Advanced Flight Training Solutions, a company that offers flight training at Sundance Airpark in Yukon. She launched the company in May.
“It is fairly new, but it's growing really fast,” she said.
Drew Gomer works for Chesapeake Energy, and is launching a job placement service for veterans leaving the military. The company, called Military Morph, will help veterans find work that suits their abilities and interests, he said.
When they left the military, the couple moved to Oklahoma and found jobs — Drew Gomer at Chesapeake Energy, and Heather Gomer at Wiley Post Airport. The two had no lack of business ideas they thought could succeed. But they didn't know what it took to launch a business.
So last year, Heather Gomer went online and began looking for programs that help veterans start their own companies. One of the first programs she found was OSU's Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. The two applied and were accepted to last year's session.
“Lo and behold, it's right here in Oklahoma,” she said.
The yearlong program brings a group of qualified veterans to OSU for a so-called entrepreneurship “boot camp” that includes speakers and training on how to launch a business. The program is free of charge, and covers transportation, lodging, books, meals and instruction.
The participants begin the program weeks before the boot camp, going through online training to prepare them. Participants then come to campus for the eight-day program, where they work with OSU faculty members and experienced entrepreneurs to develop their business plans.
After the boot camp ends, each participant is teamed with a business owner from the Rotary Club of Tulsa, who acts as a personal mentor for the next 10 months.
Instructors told them early in the program that they would be expected to take what they'd learned and go on to start their own business, Drew Gomer said. The program also provided all the knowledge they'd need to turn their ideas into viable companies, he said.
The two took that message to heart — a month after attending the boot camp, Heather Gomer quit her job at Wiley Post to focus on her aviation company. Although Drew Gomer still works at Chesapeake, he said he's excited about his new company, as well.
Heather Gomer said she's looking forward to seeing her husband's business plan in action. Although his company is in its early stages, she said she expects her husband will be a serial entrepreneur, going on to start several more companies.
“I can tell already,” she said.
Check it out
Oklahoma State University's Riata School for Entrepreneurship is accepting applications for the 2013-14 Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. The deadline is Oct. 1. To apply, go to http://