Tony Weedn’s app helps active military service members and their families connect with one another and solve problems that are common to most military families. The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports the BaseConnect app is an invitation-only, military-only network that includes local business listings. He plans to include job openings for spouses, and ride-sharing and home-sharing features, among other things.
Jacob McCleland: You’re listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I’m Jacob McCleland and my guest today is Sarah Terry-Cobo. She’s the senior reporter at the Journal Record newspaper. Sarah, thank you for joining us.
Sarah Terry-Cobo: Hey Jacob, it’s great to be here, thank you for having me.
McCleland: Well first, I want to talk about an Enid man’s app. It’s called BaseConnect, and it helps military members and their spouses connect to resources. So that’s kind of the big picture of what Tony Weedn’s app does. What else do we need to know about it?
Terry-Cobo: So Tony’s app is an invite-only, verified-only resource for military members, spouses and veterans. Think of it as like Facebook meets Angie’s List. The idea is to help service members and their spouses find out where Building 411 is on the base, or even find a good plumber they can trust when their spouse is deployed and they have a leak that needs to be fixed.
It launched the week after July Fourth on the app store for both Android and Apple. And he is starting with Vance Air Force Base in Enid, but wants to expand to other bases in Oklahoma and across the nation eventually.
So some other features he said he would like to incorporate is like a job listing, so a business can post a job listing for a military spouse. Another is an AirBnB-like feature, so a deployed service member can rent their home or apartment and earn extra cash. That would be cheaper, and save the government more money, theoretically, compared to like an expensive hotel or apartment. And another feature is like a ride-sharing service. You have to have a military ID to get on base and most Lyft or Uber drivers don’t have that.
McCleland: So why did Weedn chose to launch this new app? What was the niche he saw this filling?
Terry-Cobo: So it was based in part on his own experience. He served in the Air Force at Vance for about a dozen or so before he retired from the service. He has seen the experience of so many other military members and spouses who had this frustration of not knowing where to find things or not knowing who to trust. And military members say they inherently trust one another, so he wanted a way to connect them in a closed community, so to speak.
McCleland: What are some of the obstacles that Weedn’s app faces as he tries to develop this business?
Terry-Cobo: Well, so he has a first version, which launched about a week ago. The second version, he is seeking developers and wants to keep the company local, so he wants local investors. And you really need a private equity group or a venture capitalist to be willing to take risks on a technology company. And most investors in Oklahoma are familiar with oil and gas businesses and aerospace, but not as much with tech.
McCleland: Staying on the military theme here, let’s talk about another story you recently wrote. This one is about the expansion of yoga classes at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Why is yoga an increasingly common recommendation for veterans?
Terry-Cobo: Well that is because there is no silver bullet or magic pill for any veteran who is dealing with stress or trauma. And approaching health and wellness from a holistic point of view, one that aims to help the body, the mind and the spirit, really has gained traction at VA nationwide in recent years. Some clinical studies have shown that yoga can reduce stress and anxiety for veterans and particularly for veterans who have a diagnosis or symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
McCleland: One of the veterans who is practicing yoga is 72-year-old Donald Bamborough. What does he say yoga does for him?
Terry-Cobo: He had a pretty jovial attitude when I talked to him and some fellow veterans right after the yoga class last week. He says it helps him stay calm. It reduces his stress. He says it also helps him with some pain. He has exercises he is doing for back issues and the yoga really helps reduce his physical pain, in addition to helping him find a happier place.
McCleland: What do mental health counselors say about the benefits of yoga for veterans?
Terry-Cobo: Well they know that everyone is different and not everything will work for everyone. Not everyone responds to every kind of treatment. And they know yoga has been proven to help and whatever affects someone physically can also affect them psychologically. So many of these veterans who get the recommendation to take eight weeks of yoga have continued to stay and practice yoga long past that here in Oklahoma.
McCleland: Sarah Terry-Cobo is the senior reporter at the Journal Record newspaper. Sarah, thank you so much for your time.
Terry-Cobo: Hey, thanks for having me, Jacob. Great to be here.
McCleland: KGOU and the Journal Record collaborate each week on The Business Intelligence Report. You can find this conversation at kgou.org. You can also follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter, @journalrecord and @kgounews.
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