Editor’s Note: In this series of articles, HJ writer Michael Kane interviews Ranger Up CEO Nick Palmisciano, who is considered by many to be “the Godfather” of modern veteran entrepreneurship. Nick was listed by We Are The Mighty alongside other high-profile veterans like General Stanley McChrystal and Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald as a “veteran poised for impact” in 2016. In this multi-part series, Nick addresses starting a new business, work/life balance, the pitfalls of politics, and the importance of giving voice to the veteran community.
Ranger Up launched in June of 2006 with the mission of making patriotic-themed apparel for America’s veteran and first-responder community. Their hard work and attention to detail resulted in an explosion of growth and a subsequent expansion into other activities including mixed martial arts, video production, and now, Hollywood movies. Through it all, they have remained dedicated to supporting America and the veteran community. Ranger Up’s CEO, Nick Palmisciano, agreed to squeeze some time out of his extremely busy schedule last week to talk to us about veteran entrepreneurship, or being a “vetrepreneur.”
HJ: Havok Journal
Nick: Nick Palmisciano
HJ: RangerUp is well known for its clothing line but many people don’t realize that Ranger Up sponsors over 100 MMA fighters both active and former service members. So how do you which MMA fighters you’ll sponsor, and what happens when two of them fight each other?
Nick: We’ve had lots of people fight each other, so that’s not really a big deal. We support the community. How do we decide who to sponsor in the first place? Well basically, most people that ask, we give a shot to. Just depending on where they are, what level they’re at that might just mean pro gear, that might mean 100 bucks, a couple thousand bucks, that might mean more. The way the relationship goes from there, that we’ve learned from experience is just how they treat us.
In the early days of MMA we sponsored all kinds of people, a lot of them don’t give you pictures, they don’t do this, but you just keep sponsoring because that was just the time. But over time we’ve just invested in people who have invested in us. That’s how we end up with these relationships where we’ve got guys like Brian Stann. Brian is not even fighting anymore and we’re still sponsoring him because it’s just a good relationship he’s been so good to us over the years and hopefully he feels that we’ve been good to him.
But he’s what we stand for. He’s a great human being, served his country well, served honorably and he’s still helping his country with Hire Heroes and other charitable endeavors he’s involved in and he’s out there kicking ass commentating the UFC, helping out with multiple companies. That guy is just a stud. We still have a relationship with him. Tim Kennedy obviously, he’s an owner now but he wasn’t always an owner but he was our first sponsored athlete. We became incredibly close with him and over time that became an official relationship. There are just tons of guys that we’ve known forever and some of these guys stopped fighting and we still have relationships with them.
They’ve started businesses and we’ve given them advice on how to start businesses we’ve invested in some of these guys and helped them start their business. So it’s a relationship just like anything else. People that treat you well, you treat them well in return, over time relationships either get much better or much worse. I think a lot of fighters don’t realize that, so they just are like “oh well, I’ve got a sponsor and the sponsor should be lucky to have me because I’m so good.”
That’s not really the way it works.
The truth of the matter is, that sponsored athletes don’t really typically provide any type of return. We just believe in combatives. We think it’s incredibly important that troops know how to fight because if they’re in a hand to hand situation they should have every possible advantage. We think that citizens should know how to fight so they can protect themselves. We believe in MMA, we believe fighting, we think it’s a good thing. We support it. People that treat us well, we support. People that don’t, we cut, regardless of record. There are guys that have lost, five, six in a row. We don’t cut people for losing. We cut people for being assholes.
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