Ethan Dietrich has never taken a business class at Anne Arundel Community College, yet he has become one of the most well-known figures in the school’s business and veteran communities.
René Campo, an adjunct professor for business management and entrepreneurial studies and the faculty adviser to the AACC chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA), made Dietrich aware of a substantial business opportunity that has propelled his SixGen LLC into the stratosphere.
Campo encouraged Dietrich to enter a national program in which he was among 50 U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel selected to participate in a three-day TechStars Patriot Boot Camp at Goldman Sachs in New York City. “I learned a lot,” Dietrich said. “We got to talk to a whole breadth of start-up entrepreneurs.”
SixGen is a multifaceted startup that, in part, allows a client to do more with its data using fewer resources, allowing for a successful mitigation operation against cyber security threats.
Dietrich spent nearly five years serving in the U.S. Army after enlisting when he was only 17. He served as an intelligence analyst in Special Forces, where he specialized in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. He saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and worked in nearly a dozen other countries throughout his six combined tours of duty during his time as a service member and contractor.
One of Dietrich’s missions is to help provide business opportunities for military veterans. He’s the president of the SVA chapter at AACC and has received a wealth of advice and mentorship from Campo. Dietrich’s inclusion in the TechStars Boot Camp was important to his endeavors, according to Campo.
“Success in business really hinges on relationships, and if you have the right contacts, mentors and guidance, you are already ahead of the competition, regardless of the industry,” said Campo, whose husband has been in the Air Force or Army for the past 20 years. “The direct access to speak with established CEOs who started out as entrepreneurs is fabulous insight.”
Dietrich’s ideas largely hinge on the use of Cloud computing technologies to mitigate cyber threats. Essentially, Dietrich said, the Cloud is similar to taking the comparable hardware from 10 desktop computers, fusing it together and making the storage, applications and resources accessible to 100 web-enabled users. It reduces the cost of ownership and allows for centralized management.
SixGen is ready to take on government contracts, and obtaining them is the next step for Dietrich. He’s already working with larger defense contractors to find work, and his aim is to ensure plenty of military veterans and active duty personnel can work for SixGen, learn from Dietrich’s trials and successes and have an opportunity to chase their own entrepreneurial dreams.
Working with veterans has become a mainstay for Dietrich. He said he’s proud of the efforts AACC makes each semester to create new opportunities for the nearly 6,000 veterans who have used veterans’ benefits at the school since 2006. He said the military population in and around Anne Arundel County has benefited from the forward thinking of the college, the SVA and advisers such as Campo.
He also credited the recent support of the AACC Entrepreneurial Studies Institute (ESI) and the Sarbanes Business Center for providing administrative resources. The school was voted for the fifth consecutive year as a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs.
Courage is a trait Dietrich said he plans to infuse into his business style. It’s a trait that he believes should be rewarded. “Small-business partnerships are about courage and risk,” he said. “Without courage to overcome the risk, the business cannot succeed. You want to find people with that courage, acknowledge their risk and compensate them with equity for it and make them part of your company. There’s no reason we can’t all be well-off.”