Podcast Series: NY Veterans Become Entrepreneurs

Many veterans are opening businesses in Upstate, NY.  In this podcast series they talk about skills and stamina developed while in service and about applying those skills to running their own small businesses.  It's a big leap and starting a business is not easy.  Learn how they have made their dreams a reality.

Links to programs can be found at the bottom of the page.

In this episode we hear from Anastasios (Stas) Mantzouris and Emil Baker. Stas talks about balancing deployments and business, the value in having the support of a SCORE mentor and extra training through the Boots to Business program. Stas' SCORE mentor, Emil Baker, talks about his service and business background and how gratifying it is to volunteer in support of other veterans who want to get started in business.

More about Stas and Emil:

Technical Sergeant Anastasios Mantzouris is currently assigned to the 109th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, NY. Sergeant Mantzouris' has deployed in Bagram and Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, and Greenland in support of Operation Raven Dew. He has numerous awards and decorations. TSgt Mantzouris began The Dust in My Shop in 2016. www.thedustinmyshop.com

Emil is a Vietnam Veteran, and is retired from Bell Telephone and AT&T. He held various management and executive positions in sales, new product introduction, distribution and operational management, and acted as general manager of a new business unit that was being acquired by NYNEX. He retired as Bell Atlantic Vice President and General Manager of NY and VT.He then founded a paging, reselling company that grew into a chain of 30 wireless phone stores, generating $27m in sales in the year he sold it. He then founded and currently operates the Big Moose Deli and Country Store in Hoosick, NY. emil_baker@yahoo.com


In this episode we hear from both Jacob Ashby and Amy Amoroso. Ashby (now Assemblyman Ashby representing NY District 107) talks about his desire to serve his country and how his perseverance has helped him refine his business plans for Ashby Adaptive Occupational Therapy. Amy Amoroso talks about what has motivated her to become the Director of the Veteran Business Outreach Center, Federal Region II. Both talk about the benefits veterans can tap into if they want help in starting their own small businesses.

More about Jake: Asby graduated from Keuka College with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and Union Graduate College in Schenectady with an MBA in healthcare management. He has worked on the brain injury unit at Sunnyview Hospital, and as the rehabilitation director at Albany County Nursing Home. In addition to operating his own business he has also taught at Maria College. 

In 2008 he deployed to Diyala Province, Iraq. In 2011 he led a civil affairs team on a humanitarian mission to Malawi, Africa. Shortly later he was deployed again to Khost Province, Afghanistan. Ashby was honorably discharged in 2014.


More about Amy: In 2016, Amy became Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Veteran Business Outreach Center NY/NJ. In May 2018, Amy won the recompete for VBOC Region II with an expanded territory to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She assists veterans, service members and military spouses with starting, buying or expanding a business. Amy teaches Boots to Business classes for service members transitioning out of the military and into entrepreneurship. All these services are offered at no charge.




In this episode, Robert Duff talks about how his service experiences helped inspire his dream of opening a business. Duff talks about some of the programs he has found most helpful along his journey to opening the Salt Den, a Himalayan Therapeutic Wellness Center.

More about Robert: Robert Duff is a 26-year resident of Amsterdam, New York and is originally from the State of Maine. Robert graduated from Sumner Memorial High School and received a degree in Accounting and Business with a concentration in Computer Programming from Husson College. He joined the Navy Reserves in 1996 and remains in after 23 years reaching the paygrade of Hospital Corpsman ChiefPetty Officer.His specialty in the Navy Reserves has been Emergency, Sport and Field Medicine.He has earned his Seabee Special Warfare pin with expert knowledge as a Small Arms Instructor.After his last deployment in Germany, Chief Duff realized that he wanted to be able to help his fellow Veterans along with his community by providing a Holistic Wellness Center called the Salt Den.After 3 years of planning, Robert opened the Salt Den in April of 2017 bringing Halotherapy to Upstate New York helping everyone to Relax and Breathe Easier.


In this episode Jason Young talks about his service background, the businesses he has started, and how he made the transition. Young also talks about some of the programs he has found useful and shares advice for other veterans looking to start their own businesses.

More about Jason:  Jason was born in Saratoga, NY and enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2007 at Westover Airforce Base in Massachusetts. Jason’s military service spanned four years as a flight medic with the 439th AES Aeromedical Squadron, and transferred to the 139th AES out of Scotia, NY. During his time of service, he traveled all over the United States performing mission duties for the Air Force. Jason owns a veteran-owned business called Clark’s Steakhouse, a successful restaurant in Schuylerville, New York. He attributes his entrepreneurial success to his experience in the US. Air Force. Jason also serves as a regular guest speaker with the Veteran Business Outreach Center’s Boots to Business Program, mentoring fellow veteran entrepreneurs, and sharing his own experiences transitioning out of the military into business ownership. Jason’s recently opened a Liquor Store (Olde Saratoga Wine and Spirits) in Schuylerville NY

Check in again...more podcasts to come!

Looking for more information?   Robert Duff, Owner of the Salt Den and Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman has kindly provided this list of organizations he has found helpful:

SBA – Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) (Latham)


VETCON – Veteran in Economic Transition Conference (Albany)


Syracuse University – Institute for Veterans and Military Families – Boots to Business


EBV – The Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans


CVOB – Coalition of Veteran Owned Business


Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship


V-WISE IGNITE – Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship


Street Shares Foundation – Grants and Training for Veteran Entrepreneurs


VET to CEO – 3 week online course


Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship – Entrepreneur One Stop Shop


"Open" sign photo: Getty Images

Photo of Amy Amoroso provided by subject.

Photo of Robert Duff provided by subject.

Photo of Jason Young provided by subject.

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