Andy Gibbs was told it couldn’t be done when he founded the Veterans Business Institute and offered draft language for a GI Bill that Congress is mulling to help veterans apply their educational benefits toward a start-up business.
Gibbs heard it again when he designed an intellectual property business model called, Duty1.com
Now, Microsoft is knocking at his door.
Gibbs is the founder and former CEO of Patent Café, an Internet distribution site for intellectual property, patent, trademark and copyright information. After selling the “six-figure” business in 2009, Gibbs decided to flip strategies.
“I thought of the core business, first, and then designed the software around it.”
That got Microsoft’s attention.
Veterans Business Institute was one of three businesses in the United States to be selected for a marketing campaign Microsoft plans to launch in March in print, online and in stores.
“Their main message is how we are relying on, and leveraging, ‘cloud’ technology and mobile computing to build our small business,” Gibbs said.
The proprietary software program Gibbs designed functions along the lines of a Google or a Facebook, he said.
Vastly different from a start-up business that creates a simple Web page to get started, Duty1 sets the framework for a company that offers support and a network for veterans to start their business, build a Duty1-labeled fleet of cars, vans or trucks, recruit clients and provide frontline backup at all times.
The company was designed to tie into the Internet, mobile communications, a call center and a cloud of special-tailored services — from payroll and accounting to procurement — with software designed specifically for them.
It includes a Voice over IP (VoIP) Call Center that Gibbs says will be manned by disabled veterans who take calls and handle field service requests for veteran businesses that sign onto the Duty1 service.
Gibbs, who chose to locate his operation here, has in a few short months moved from a cubicle to a large suite of offices in a corridor of the Rabobank Regional Business Center that’s been renamed “Gung Ho Circle.”
“They said it couldn’t be done,” he said. “Well, I’m doing it.”
As he lines up investors, Gibbs said he’s already gotten two local businessmen to sign on as Duty1 providers: Dr. Bradley Wolff, a chiropractor; and Bernie Johnson, a general contractor who was in the process of remodeling a Palm Springs home.
“It’s all about finding work for vets,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, it will give me some opportunities to be exposed to a larger client base.”
He wants 10,000 veteran-owned businesses signed onto the fee-based program by 2014.
“Pretty soon, I’m going to need more office space,” he said. “I expect we’ll outgrow this within 60 days.”