Veterans ‘Shark Tank’-style event held at Kean University

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A group of veterans was at Kean University Wednesday competing for a chance to receive assistance for their small business.

Based on the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” “Vet Tank” give eight veterans from New Jersey a chance to get $20,000 from the New Jersey Small Business Development Center.

Contestants included Marine Joey Mac Dizon, who has a mobile cigar lounge business.

“Currently, I'm renovating a 1973 airstream that's 31 feet that people can go smoke in. And I can bring to festivals,” he said.

Marine Sonia Aplonario is looking for help with her videography business. She says that she has 10 years’ experience in video photography and audio engineering.

There is veteran Christopher Costa who has an idea for pocket squares that look like military medals.

“Our product has defeated the crazy patriot veteran stereotype and look to give you a clean way to display your pride anytime, anywhere,” he said.

“Vet Tank” was the finale of a daylong event run by the SBDC to help boost veteran entrepreneurs.

“To help empower our veteran entrepreneurs to propel in business. Even the veterans or military spouses that are thinking about a business or if they're already in an existing business and they want to get more ammunition to...push forward a little bit more. That’s what we're here for,” says the SBDC’s Shy Hopkins.

In the end it was Mac Dizon’s mobile cigar lounge that won the competition.

“And that's why I love working with other veterans. I get to work back in a place with my brothers and sisters,” he said. “That even though we're out of uniform we're still in service to each other and we're helping each other out.”

The mobile cigar lounge is available for hire. Mac Dizon’s other partners are also veterans.

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