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Bets on ‘fierce’ vets: Hivers & Strivers believes military veterans are good investments

Nov 26, 2023

Rachel Hobert (general partner) and Doug Doan (founder) are the principals of Hivers & Strivers Capital, which is opening a new headquarters in Bentonville. Rachel Hobert is in casual attire, wearing a “Make Arkansas Great” ball cap. Levi, her Golden Retriever, laps at the water bowl kindly provided by a waiter at downtown Bentonville restaurant Pressroom. Hobert, picking at her salad, pauses before responding to a question she already answered earlier in the interview. “We’re not fake-it-till-you-make-it. We’re not New York transactional, where it’s all about money, money, money. We believe they are different and bring different skills; it doesn’t have to be all about Silicon Valley. So we are here to put a stake in the ground and make a difference, and help them make a difference,” Hobert replied when pressed as to how the early-stage venture capital firm she represents differs from others. The “they” and the “them” she referred to are military veterans. Hobert is a general partner with Washington, D.C.-based Hivers & Strivers Capital , and she’s leading the opening of the company’s new headquarters office in Bentonville. H&S was founded in 2017 as an early-stage investment firm focused exclusively on veterans. Hobert is a graduate of Wesleyan University and former captain of the women’s soccer team. She has lived in Turkey, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Uganda. Before joining H&S in 2018, she worked for a consulting and management firm where she helped manage early-stage investments. Doug Doan, an angel investor and a 1979 West Point graduate, founded Hivers & Strivers. “Doan sought to leverage the qualities he saw in the highest caliber military veterans to create successful investments. ‘Hive’ is a term used throughout history at West Point to describe an individual who consistently overachieves, is at the top of their class academically, and puts forth their absolute best effort to accomplish their goals,” according to the H&S website. H&S also notes that veterans are around 5% of the U.S. workforce but are 9% of all business owners. They contribute $1.4 trillion to the national economy and employ more than 5.8 million people. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are around 2 million veteran-owned small businesses. ‘A LAUNCHING PAD’ Hobert responded quickly when asked why H&S selected Bentonville for its first office outside Washington. “It’s a cultural fit,” Hobert said, adding that the “energy” exists for “Northwest Arkansas to be a launching pad for vets.” Hobert turned her head and the bill of her ball cap toward the busy Bentonville square with the word “energy.” Energy, indeed. It was almost a 45-minute wait to get a table at the Pressroom restaurant on the Bentonville square at 1:30 p.m. on a Friday. The post-lunch wait usually is no more than it takes a waiter to ask, “How many,” grab the corresponding number of menus and walk you to the appropriate table. More than 4,000 bicyclists, vendors and fans were in and around Bentonville for the Life Time Big Sugar Classic. The event is a mountain bike and gravel bike race that draws folks from around the globe. Parking lots around the square were full of vehicles with license plates from almost every state but Arkansas. H&S also believes in the energy of veterans. In an email interview with the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Doan said the veteran community is too often overlooked because they don’t have the academic or business history pedigree that most venture capital firms seek. “We started Hivers and Strivers to fill a huge void,” he noted. “Military vets are some of the most accomplished, dedicated, gritty and fierce people in America. They are superb leaders and have learned terrific skills while on active duty. And yet, for bizarre reasons, they are overlooked as capable entrepreneurs able to build and grow a business.” During a Nov. 10 address to the Noon Exchange Club in Fort Smith, Doan said H&S reviews around 400 proposals every 90 days and approves one. He said the initial investment ranges between $250,000 and $500,000. “It’s just enough to give them a chance, a chance to roll the dice and see if something will work,” he said. He also said in reviewing proposals that a big focus is on the veteran. “We bet on the jockey, not the horse.” And being based in Bentonville allows H&S to be in an environment rich with experience in logistics, data management, and physical and online retail product placement, Doan said. ‘FIERCE WOMEN VETS’ One of those veterans is former Green Beret Evan Hafer, who founded Salt Lake City-based Black Rifle Coffee Company in 2014. The company, a favorite among politically conservative consumers, has seen significant increases in revenue but posted a $10.7 million loss in the third quarter and a year-to-date loss of $42.7 million. Hobert said H&S was an early investor in Black Rifle and was able to make 33 times its initial investment in Black Rifle. Rachel Hobert and Doug Doan of Hivers & Strivers Capital, which was founded in 2017 as an early-stage investment firm focused exclusively on veterans. “We were lucky to invest in an Army vet, Evan Hafer, who founded Black Rifle Coffee and took it to a successful IPO,” Doan said. “We learned a lot more from Evan than he ever learned from us, and he has been an extraordinary success.” H&S also invested in Rumi Spice, a company producing spice from a flower grown in Afghanistan. Emily Miller was a captain in the U.S. Army who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to being a co-founder of Rumi Spice, she works as a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Kim Jung, CEO and co-founder, was also a U.S. Army officer who served in Afghanistan. They are both West Point graduates. “Kim and Emily had a crazy idea of growing and processing saffron spice in Afghanistan. We were proud to invest in the company and recognized decent returns. At one time, Rumi employed more Afghan women than any other private company in the world. Just shows you what two fierce women vets can achieve,” Doan said. Hobert said in late October that H&S has 16 active investments and may soon add a 17th company to its investment portfolio. H&S has around $80 million in assets under management, she said. NWA CONNECTIONS In addition to Northwest Arkansas being a cultural fit, H&S has connections to the region. One of those is David Olive, who was a media attorney in Fort Smith for the former Donrey Media Group. He moved to Washington, D.C., to be Asa Hutchinson’s chief of staff after Hutchinson was first elected in 1996 as the U.S. Representative for Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Olive founded Catalyst Partners in 1999 to help businesses work with state and federal governments. “My Dad was an Army veteran and a small businessman,” Olive said. “I’ve always had an interest in helping those who have served in the military. So when my business partner, Randy Beardsworth, asked me if I was interested in helping a startup founded by one of the young men he mentored at the Coast Guard Academy, I said yes. When Randy asked if I knew anyone else who might want to invest, I suggested our friend Doug Doan. Thus, Hivers & Strivers was born.” Another connection is Rick Webb, a former senior vice president at Walmart in innovation and global processes for almost 12 years. He is a limited partner with H&S and is also on the board at Rogers-based NewRoad Capital Partners, Arkansas’ largest private equity fund. Doan is focused on helping veterans succeed in business but also wants to change the “distorted view” that “too many Americans” have about veterans. That distorted view is the result of well-intended commercials and news stories about veterans being homeless, disfigured, suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “These are not broken people that were diminished by their military service,” Doan said. “Quite the opposite. They were terrific young men and women, and military service made them even better. We have to explain this a lot. We don’t have to explain it in Bentonville.” Previous post

Doug Doan Investments

1 Investments

Doug Doan has made 1 investments. Their latest investment was in Ampsy as part of their Series A on February 02, 2016.

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Doug Doan Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

2/2/2016

Series A

Ampsy

$4.11M

Yes

2

Date

2/2/2016

Round

Series A

Company

Ampsy

Amount

$4.11M

New?

Yes

Co-Investors

Sources

2

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