Bret Mouldenhauer is heading to the London Olympics.
The former Olympic hopeful and Chattanooga acupuncturist left Thursday to travel with runner DeeDee Trotter as she competes for the United States in the women's 400-meter race at this year's Olympic Games.
But Mouldenhauer is hoping the games bring more than just a gold medal for his client. Mouldenhauer is working to create a comprehensive medical team that specializes in working with top-flight athletes.
"The hope is we can create something that's like a Formula One racing crew," he said. "You don't just work on a car one person at a time -- it's everyone swarming around at once."
Mouldenhauer is one of 16 veterans who are part of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. The program, which ends its eight-day "boot camp" today, is in its inaugural year at UTC. This week, students visited the Business Development Center to speak with small-business owners about everything from how to make a business plan to marketing.
Robert Dooley, dean of the UTC College of Business, had worked with a similar program at Oklahoma State University and started on a similar program at UTC when he arrived in 2011.
Students began with a self-study program and then arrived on campus to complete the "boot-camp." After today, students will be paired with a local business mentor who will help guide and fine-tune their businesses over the remaining 10 months of the program.
Many students' businesses are based on their own life experiences.
"I've invented a product for the medical field and pathology," said Sal Cariglio, a Vietnam veteran from Atlanta, and histologist -- a lab professional who prepares tissue samples for examination. "I do have a patent and I'm incorporated, but I want to work on a business plan so I can market this thing."
Cariglio, who plans to begin his business in Chattanooga, designed a holder for pathology slides that fits inside a filing cabinet and works as a filing system. He hopes his invention will make it easier for pathologists and histologists to keep patient slides organized.
Mouldenhauer's business plan comes from his experience working with athletes, particularly Trotter. He said he works in tandem with the runner's massage therapist to help ease muscle pain.
As a former athlete, Mouldenhauer said he was drawn to working with athletes because he can relate to what they are going through on and off the field.
"I understand their injuries. I understand their hopes. I understand their fears," Mouldenhauer said. "I've been on the good side of winning and the bad side of winning."
His experiences at the Olympics, Mouldenhauer said, are just a continuation of the things he has learned so far through the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program.
"I'm basically going to do my research for this course at the games," he said. "The term they keep using is 'kaleidoscope.' You know, when you hold a kaleidoscope up to the light and turn it on its side you see things a little differently. The goal is to turn the Olympics on its side and see what's there."