Marine Veteran Builds Veterans Networking Business in Mount Pleasant

Dale Sutcliffe served four years in the United States Marines prior to earning his bachelors degree in computer science. After having a conversation with his veteran father-in-law about his desire to connect with his previous veteran comrades, Sutcliffe had an idea to create a veteran networking site to do just that. VetFriends is an online community of veterans and active duty military members that was created in 1999. The website’s mission is to reconnect, honor and support U.S. veterans. Sutcliffe eventually expanded his business into merchandise, which includes t-shirts, hats, and other veteran memorabilia. The business was growing, but Sutcliffe was determined to have VetFriends become a nationally recognized brand to reach veterans across the country.

Keesha Glass and Amy Clark, two of Sutcliffe’s employees, suggested that they should reach out to the Columbia Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), a center that assists businesses in selling their products and services to federal, state, and local governments.

“Scott helped us with getting our NAICS codes, and completing the application for the Veteran-Owned Small Business certification,” said Clark. “He also taught us how to navigate the various federal contracting websites, such as SAM.gov, and FedBizOpps.”

The Columbia PTAC also referred Sutcliffe to the South Carolina Small Business Development Center, which continued to help him with marketing to the federal government and increasing his brand identification.

“The SBDC helped us with our first capabilities statement and recommended that we attend the SC National Guard Hello Vendor Orientation Day in Columbia,” said Sutcliffe. “We met several small minority and veteran owned businesses at the event, and none of that would have been possible without the SBDC. They were so helpful in increasing our brand exposure.”

VetFriends has grown over the years to become a website with over 2.5 million members nationwide, and over 500,000 people visit the website each month. They offer over 15,000 military pride products, and make products for Veteran Affairs and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Sutcliffe has a staff of 24 employees, and he attributes much the business success to his team.

“We have a fantastic crew and it is the team effort that makes us successful,” said Sutcliffe.

Company Name: 
VetFriends LLC
Location: 
Mount Pleasant, SC