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Tampa Bay business community could push Action Zone, Expedite Legal into the finals of a veteran entrepreneur competition

Margie Manning

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Two Tampa Bay area business leaders are in the running for a potential $25,000 prize in a contest for veteran-owned organizations.

The winners of the contest, which ends at midnight tonight (April 3), will be determined by an online vote.

George Zwierko, chairman of the board of Action Zone Inc., an entrepreneur support organization for veterans, and Eve Barrett, founder and CEO of Expedite Legal, an on-demand legal support platform, are among the 15 finalists for the Burt Williams Veteran Small Business award from the StreetShares Foundation.

StreetShares, based in Reston, Virginia, is a fintech lender that uses data and technology in a proprietary model to provide small business credit such as loans, lines of credit and government contract financing to veteran owned small businesses across the United States.

About 130 veteran business leaders entered the competition, with judges narrowing down the list to 15 finalists based on their business idea, how they plan to use the award, product-market fit, company history and their social impact on the military community.

The 15 finalists are posted online. You can see their video pitches and vote online here.

Action Zone, a nonprofit based in Tampa, helps veterans transition from the military mindset to an entrepreneurial mindset and transforms them from a service member to a business owner with the tools they need to ensure economic success post service.

The StreetShares funding would allow the organization expand programming to spouses and dependents. “We hope this grant is the start we need to help us bring our entrepreneurial education resources to military families nationwide,” the contest entry says.

Expedite Legal, based in Dunedin and featured on St. Pete Catalyst’s PitchLyst, is designed to change the way attorneys and paralegals locate, schedule, and pay for qualified court reporters, videographers, interpreters, mobile videoconference techs, notaries public and couriers. Expedite uses GPS-enabled smartphone technology to allow attorneys and paralegals to instantly locate the closest-available provider with the highest rating.

“We are currently seeking funds to scale into three new markets, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. Marketing and sales in these areas is our focus,” the contest entry says.

StreetShares Foundation will tally the online votes. The three veteran entrepreneurs with the highest vote count will get to pitch at Bourbiz, a veteran and military spouse networking and resource event April 18 in suburban Washington, D.C.

The first-place winner will get $25,000, with second and third place winners taking $15,000 and $10,000 prizes respectively.

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