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Hanscom FCU Awards $7,500 in Seed Money to Veteran-owned Startup

LITTLETON, MA (June 10, 2022) – West Bridgewater, MA-based businessman Erik Diedrichsen was one of three top performers at the recent Mass Fallen Heroes InnoVets Business Expo & Pitch Competition held in Boston recently. Diedrichsen, a U.S. Army Veteran, presented his pitch for seed money for his company, Riverbend Resources (riverbendresources.com) and took home the $7,500 second-place prize. A total of $25,000 in seed money was donated by the event’s presenter, Hanscom Federal Credit Union.

In a “Shark Tank-style” pitch competition before a panel of four judges, Diedrichsen made the case for his company’s unique chicken feeder, the Poultry Pro Feeder. This DIY system, touted as “the Best Way to Feed Guaranteed,” is more effective and efficient than traditional feeding systems for chickens. Diedrichsen reported that reception in the marketplace has been enthusiastic. Launched less than a year ago, his company projects almost $1 million in sales in its first year of business.

Speaking about the experience afterwards, Diedrichsen said in a phone interview, “We’ve had some good success with the product and have won other innovation awards. I know it’s an effective product, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received at this event.” Diedrichsen said that the money he won will help him cover legal expenses for patent enforcement for the Poultry Pro Feeder.

“Erik’s product already has a national following. His company’s story was inspired by COVID as chickens became the third most popular pet,” said Peter Rice, Hanscom FCU’s President/CEO and a judge for the event. “Today, 15 million Americans keep chickens.  I know the value of his product and clearly so do hundreds of others, based on the product’s quick rise in popularity.  This is a company that can make good use of the prize money to fuel its continued growth.”

The other presenters who participated in the InnoVets Pitch Competition included:

  • Lauren Ayube, a Gold Star wife, who won first place with $12,500 in seed money for The Salem Plant Witch, LLC

  • Seth Jordan, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, who won $5,000 in seed money for ServDAO

  • Darlene Flores, U.S. Army Veteran, Karaya Wellness, LLC

  • Nicholas Vardaro, U.S. Army Veteran, South Shore Dog Waste Removal

In addition to donating the seed money, Hanscom FCU is providing financial counseling and support to these Veteran and Gold Star family businesses through their association with InnoVets and Mass Fallen Heroes.

The InnoVets Business Expo & Pitch Competition for Veteran and Gold Star family entrepreneurs on May 25 was hosted by Mass Fallen Heroes as part of their 10-day Patriot Week celebration. Besides Peter Rice of Hanscom FCU, the judges included David Bellavia, Medal of Honor Recipient, U.S. Army Veteran; Jack Child, Co-founder of Veteran Service Brands; and Brian Shortsleeve, Founder M33 Growth, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran.

The Mass Fallen Heroes InnoVets program is Boston’s first Veteran and Gold Star family-focused entrepreneurship accelerator program designed to connect, inspire, and support Veterans and Gold Star families as they establish and grow their businesses.  In collaboration with sponsors like Hanscom FCU, corporations, investors, educational institutions, and associations, InnoVets provides dedicated resources and opportunities to Veteran and Gold Star family entrepreneurs in Massachusetts.

“I like what this organization stands for, helping Veterans succeed in business,” said Diedrichsen. “When Veterans come out of service, they are driven, and they have great values and ethics. We are pro-American. You see a lot of other resources for other segments of the population who want to start businesses, but there’s not so much for such a big group of people like Veterans, so programs like InnoVets are appreciated by us.”

Hanscom FCU’s donation is part of the community support channeled through Hanscom FCU Charitable Foundation, which has donated more than $1.5 million in support of Veterans, Gold Star families, and underserved members of the community. “Providing support for those who have served our country and their families is in our DNA,” said Rice. “Innovation is one of our five values, so I’m particularly pleased to award Erik seed money for his business and product.”

Rice added, “Nearly half of veterans report that finding financial resources for starting a business is not easy, and even when they do find funding, it’s often not enough for their business to survive. Despite these roadblocks, almost all of them, 94 percent, don’t give up despite the lack of initial support. An event like the InnoVets Pitch Competition gathers community support to deliver the support and gratitude that these Veterans and Gold Star families have earned. We congratulate Mass Fallen Heroes for their relaunch of their InnoVets program and are honored to be part of their work on behalf of Veterans and Gold Star families.”

About Hanscom FCU

Hanscom Federal Credit Union, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, serves over 91,000 members across the country and overseas through 22 branches, over 100,000 service centers and surcharge-free ATMs, and a web-based branch. The credit union holds $1.8 billion in assets. Follow Hanscom FCU on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter, and check out our MoneyWisdom blog today.


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