After the military, an entrepreneur is born
For Blake Vaughn, military service was more than just a way to serve his country. It was a family tradition, and a springboard into his future. As a young man, his father had joined the Army, and had gone on to found a multi-million dollar company that provided good jobs to scores of employees.
After graduating from college and earning an MBA, Vaughn, now 33, was commissioned as a Navy officer. He spent three years acquiring leadership skills and leading an ordinance team on an Aegis guided missile destroyer.
In 2015, after receiving an honorable discharge, he quickly moved to realize his dream of becoming an entrepreneur and opened two small businesses: an insurance restoration franchise and a construction company.
In the summer 2018, Vaughn’s best friend from high school, who, like Vaughn, was a military vet living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, read about Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner (DSP) program, and how it was recruiting aspiring entrepreneurs. The program was seeking women and men to start up package delivery companies to help deliver packages to Amazon customers.
Military veterans, in particular, were encouraged to apply. Traits the military values – such as hands-on dedicated leadership, and the ability to consistently deliver results – were just the characteristics Amazon was looking for in delivery service partners.
“As soon as we saw Amazon was running this program, we immediately knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Vaughn. “The Day One mentality fits with my passion for entrepreneurship. I consider myself a serial entrepreneur and thrive off of creating systems and processes.”
The idea of opening his third small business in less than two years didn’t faze Vaughn, it energized him.
Vaughn visited Amazon’s DSP website and realized immediately the program was seeking candidates with his profile.
The DSP program offers entrepreneurs steady package delivery volumes, proprietary cutting-edge technology, discounts on things like vehicles, insurance, and a suite of other tools to help them start up and run their own package delivery businesses. At the launch of the program, Amazon also pledged $1 million to help veterans, like Vaughn, launch their businesses by covering up to $10,000 in startup costs.
As soon as we saw Amazon was running this program, we immediately knew we wanted to be a part of it.
Today, three months after opening its doors, Vaughn’s delivery business, Patriot DSP, has more than 90 full-time drivers.
He pays his employees $16 per hour, which is more than double the Texas minimum wage, offers health benefits, and brings in financial advisors to counsel interested employees. The employee compensation package Patriot DSP offers is meant to attract and retain top talent, which Vaughn sees as a crucial part of his company’s success.
“I’ve personally interviewed every one of our employees,” Vaughn said. “When I interview candidates, I want to see how they interact with me, because how they speak with me is how they’ll interact with customers. And I want to bring in people who will not just do their jobs well, but who can be friends with other people working here, and who can help create an outstanding culture.”
Since its launch in June 2018, tens of thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs have applied to the DSP program. Today, more than 100 new small businesses, like Patriot DSP, are operational and delivering packages to thousands of customers across the country. These new small businesses have created thousands of local driver jobs, offering competitive wages and benefits.
“It’s been a privilege to watch this diverse group of energetic, gritty, and passionate leaders build their culture and teams to deliver to Amazon customers,” said Udit Madan, director of Amazon’s Last Mile Delivery Worldwide. “We are excited to continue investing in aspiring entrepreneurs and to add hundreds of new small businesses across the country this year.”