For deployed soldiers, the cinnamon challenge means something entirely different than the social media phenomenon here in the United States. For these servicemembers, cinnamon is near impossible to find, but is immensely needed to spice up the bland oatmeal served in combat chow halls or to give them a taste of home with their daily cup of joe. Fed up with the unavailability of the tasty spice, a group of veterans decided to take matters into their own hands, founding Cinn-Credible Cinnamon Packets from the front lines of Afghanistan.
The brainchild behind the project is Will Atkins, an Air Force officer who was deployed to Afghanistan for all of 2016. He says he had been on the lookout for business opportunities after reading the book Active Duty Entrepreneur, which argues that entrepreneurial risk should be undertaken while veterans still have the safety net of active duty service. “Once we started the process of setting up our own business and navigating the civilian business world, then the true work began. We didn’t know how much we didn’t know!” he says. Fortunately, several organizations exist to alleviate these challenges.
One of the veteran support organizations that he credits with Cinn-Credible’s success is the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. IVMF organizes free training programs for post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability (Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans; EBV), a separate training program for veterans’ families (EBV-F), and a highly successful training program aimed at women (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship; V-WISE). He also recommends the Small Business Administration, particularly their Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). The OVBD is focused on empowering veteran and military entrepreneurs, and offers veterans, service members and their families free business counseling and training programs, access to capital, and business development opportunities through government contracts. Especially important, was the need for a traditional civilian resume – something most military members have never had to accomplish. To achieve this end, he utilized OperationMCP (Making Careers Possible), which provides free military resume translation services, skills inventories, and interview prep to help transitioning veterans land that perfect job. In fact, he was so impressed with OperationMCP’s efforts that he now sits on their Board of Directors. Together, these organizations help ensure that entrepreneurs and transitioning veterans are set up for success.
Cinn-Credible Cinnamon Packets recently completed a successful round of funding on Kickstarter, raising enough money to produce the first batch of cinnamon packets, currently offered on their website. This first-of-its-kind product provides individual packets of cinnamon – just like sugar packets, but with cinnamon. When he isn’t running an empire as the Cinnamon King, Will Atkins is also highly involved with VeteransCampaign, which encourages veterans to run for public office, and provides campaign workshops throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Will intends to return to his home state of Florida when he retires from the Air Force, and continue public service as an elected official.
For information, please visit www.cinnamonpackets.com