Founded in 2016, Operation Startup is an early stage business ideation lab serving early-stage entrepreneurs to develop viable, sustainable, and mission driven businesses. We are a partnership between Hillsborough Community College and Hillsborough County. We operate off of a framework comprised of four IDEA pillars: 1. Innovation, 2) Discovery, 3) Effectuation, and 4) Action.  Our services are geared toward Veterans, social entrepreneurs, college students, and everyday entrepreneurs. We leverage our community resources to provide our members with top tier access to mentoring and advising, educational programs, co-working space, early stage business accelerator, workshops and events, funding, and myriad networking opportunities. These services help mitigate factors that contribute to business failure, while increasing the likelihood of successful startups.


Through strong collaborative partnerships with many local, regional, and national partners the Hillsborough Community College Operation Startup team has built a nationally recognized entrepreneurship program. Over the past four years we have identified significant synergy between civilian social entrepreneurs and military Veterans. As such, we have empowered Veterans - Vetrepreneurs, and social entrepreneurs to work together and transform our community one social business at a time.


By drawing upon our successes, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) work together to encourage  entrepreneurship in our community through:

  • Comprehensive academic programs, community events, and grant-funded projects

  • Active collaboration with 100+ regional and national partners

  • National recognition and awards from premier entrepreneurship organizations

  • Unique and specialized programs for Veterans

  • Social enterprise focused

  • Hub for college student entrepreneurs


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Over 45 businesses launched by HCC students, Vetrepreneurs, and Social Entrepreneurs


in seed capital secured , and $57,000 of capital invested in Operation Startup clients

More than 300 workshops and events serving over 3,000 participants

 100 plus community partners, business mentors, advisors, and subject matter experts 

** Must complete one of our college credit entrepreneurship certificates or degrees to qualify for the Everyday Entrepreneur $250,000 seed fund.

Recognized as a national leader in community college entrepreneurship education. Acknowledged by the Florida College System Chancellor as an example of innovative excellance

Over 2,700 Veterans , social entrepreneurs, college students, and community members served

Andy Gold, PhD


Andy is a long time social entrepreneur and more recently has also become a tenured Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurship at Hillsborough Community College. Andy has focused his efforts on working with Veterans interested in self-employment, social entrepreneurs, at-risk populations, and advocating for financial literacy

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Beth Kerly, MBA


Beth is a full-time tenured faculty member at Hillsborough Community College, where she focuses her academic efforts on entrepreneurship, marketing, and management. She is a strong advocate for vetrepreneurship, woman in business, or interested in business, and she is passionate about working with undeserved populations.

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