Huge thanks to guest contributor and fellow unicorn, Sabrina Marshall-Wojtewicz, for writing this inspiring piece that couldn’t be a more perfect way to celebrate Independence Day. Home of the free because of the brave and I find it so incredible that Rodney served our country in battle and then came home to serve it even more by helping to grow our economy with his entrepreneurial venture. Please join me in supporting this hero. -Krista
In honor of July 4th today, we wanted to put a spotlight on an entrepreneur who has fought for the independence we will so proudly celebrate today. Not only is it a unique product that will appeal to a mass market of Dad’s, service-members and outdoors enthusiasts, it just launched on Kickstarter THIS WEEK in celebration of a veteran owned business bringing independence to Dad’s everywhere, who have ever been forced to carry the pretty floral brands us Mommy Unicorn’s so often love!
Enter, TacTikes: The Last Diaper Bag you will ever buy! Founded and run by Rodney Curry. We asked this Army veteran-Daddy some questions:
What ignited the spark in you to start TacTikes?
I had just been laid off from my corporate job and I was looking for my next gig. Upon exhausting every job listing in Austin, I came across the Entrepreneurial Boot camp for Veterans with Disabilities. I presented my idea of a modular diaper bag as my business idea, and the excitement and great feedback I received fired me up. The encouragement and support I received in the EBV program gave me the fuel I needed to start TacTikes. Six months later I joined The Bunker @ Austin, and the network of community support there kept the fire burning. My fellow veterans empowered me to become an entrepreneur, and pursue my dreams.
How did the idea for TacTikes come about?
I was sitting on my couch one day, thinking about how much I want to take my daughter to an upcoming festival. I was looking at her diaper bag with busted zippers and no backpack straps, dreading taking that with us to the festival. My Army bag was sitting next to it, and I had an “Aha” moment to merge both bags and create a durable, functional bag with a baby and toddler focus.
What motivates you?
During my 12-month tour in Iraq, too many soldiers in my unit made the ultimate sacrifice. The brotherhood we forged in combat left a permanent mark on me, and one I will always cherish. Every day, I think about those soldiers no longer here to pursue their dreams. Pursuing my dreams is my way of honoring their sacrifice.
What is TacTikes up to these days?
This is a VERY exciting time for TacTikes. We are launching our Kickstarter campaign on July 1st! The month of July is filled with engagements to continue spreading the word of our launch on Kickstarter, and I plan on being very busy come August 1st, fulfilling tons of pre-orders after our successful campaign.
What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
· Get and keep a day job. Your startup’s revenues will not support your salary.
· Don’t go at it alone. Find a partner(s) with which to pursue a venture.
· Wherever you are, be there.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
My day starts at 7am and typically goes until midnight or so. I split the hours up between MBA classes and projects, TacTikes operations and events, and spending dinner with my family. I’ll typically work 12-14 hours a day, but I carve out a couple of hours here and there for fun time like going to the shooting range, catching a movie, or hitting up a driving range.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being an entrepreneur has taken a lot of hours away from family time. That is not easy to deal with, but my hours are fluid, so it gives me the ability to accomplish things during the day when places aren’t crowded. It’s a night and day difference in how we are able to spend time in the military. As an entrepreneur I get to see my daughter and wife every day and can rearrange my schedule for important events. This is another way I honor the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters: by never taking for granted the time I am able to spend with my family.
How do you define success?
To me success is happiness. It may sound cliché, but to me it really is that simple. I spend a lot of hours every day to reach my goal of making TacTikes successful. Empowering parents to spend more time on outdoor adventures makes me happy. Accomplishing tasks and having a creative outlet make me happy. TacTikes allows me to do a lot of things that make me happy.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My daughter. She inspires me every day to be a better person than I was the previous day. I would have never thought to create the best diaper bag known to man if I was never a parent.
What are your hobbies?
I have loved shooting all my life. I started with a bb gun, moved to tournament competition paintball, and the army allowed me to become proficient in firearms. I am now venturing into 3-gun competitions. Shooting is a place, for me, where nothing else exists. Controlling my breathing, trigger pull, and sight picture take a lot of concentration, and that concentration is what I love about it.
TacTikes is based in Austin, Texas and will be manufactured in the USA. You can find everything you need to know at the website, www.TacTikes.com, or through the Kickstarter campaign launched TODAY! Stay updated by following @TacTikes on Twitter and Facebook.
If you are a veteran or military spouse interested in starting or growing your own business, you can contact The Bunker Labs location nearest you. The mission of The Bunker is to catalyze the entrepreneurial potential of the military experience to lead innovation in the American economy by initiating immersive entrepreneur & venture development programs, connecting current and former military service members with thriving, diverse, and relevant networks and creating a laboratory environment for military service members to build & test new solutions for customers, veterans, and the American economy.
About the Author: Mother, military spouse to a Marine, and entrepreneur – in that order, Sabrina Marshall-Wojtewicz is a digital marketing and communications professional with a passion for entrepreneurship, innovation and personal, professional and leadership development. Her interest and enthusiasm in these areas coupled with the desire to empower others and give back to her community led her to found and organize a local Austin women’s networking group from 2006-2010. She has served on the Board of the Lakeway/Lake Travis Rotary Club and has most recently joined The Bunker @ Austin and The Bunker @ Texas teams where she will continue contributing her time and talent towards an innovative startup community of military veterans as they launch and accelerate their businesses. You can keep up with her on Twitter @GlamGirlSabrina.