014: Ryan Tate – Protecting embattled wildlife and supporting fellow veterans


The new Hooked On Startups episode is out! My guest is Ryan Tate – founder and CEO of VETPAW – a non-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the survival of critically threatened African wildlife. Ryan is a former Marine, Iraq war veteran and diplomatic security officer for the Department of State. VETPAW stands for Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife. Simply put, under Ryan’s leadership and direction VETPAW employs highly skilled post 9/11 US Veterans to help prevent the irreplaceable loss of African wildlife caused by poaching. Find out how Ryan and his team at VETPAW are helping to protect embattled wildlife and support their fellow veterans.

1:02 – Background on Ryan.

2:23 – Vetpaw’s mission and background.

3:25 – Utilizing the training and experience of war veterans to help park rangers and wildlife.

4:05 – The connections between poaching and terrorism.

4:22 – Contextualizing the scale of the problem posed by poaching as a top 5 international crime.

5:23 – Poaching is intertwined with the other large international criminal activities.

6:07 – Effects of illegalizing the ivory trade in different countries.

7:30 – How the problem of poaching is increasing in scale as animal counts decrease and how that affects Vetpaw.

8:27 – The pressures and accountability facing Ryan in building his organization.

9:20 – The amount of money involved in the ivory trade and how it can affect low income communities.

10:44 – Feeling both an eagerness for this work and feeling as though he’s bitten off more than he can chew at different times.

11:28 – What prompted Ryan to want to start Vetpaw.

13:56 – Working with various governments in Africa to establish credibility and gain support.

15:12 – Ryan’s trial run working with rangers and building credibility by showing up and doing the work.

16:51 – Managing both the on-the-ground aspects as well as the business side of Vetpaw.

18:03 – How interconnected parts, like the marketing side of ivory, can figure into Vetpaw’s scope.

19:21 – Infrastructure challenges when expanding the organization into different countries.

21:08 – One of the unique approaches of Vetpaw in sustaining both wildlife and communities.

22:45 – The impact of veterans being able to use their combat skills to help these animals.

24:03 – Ryan’s approach to garnering support for Vetpaw.

25:04 – Will China’s illegalization of ivory trading affect the market the way prohibition affected alcohol?

26:19 – The current size of Vetpaw and their growth plans.

27:54 – What keeps Ryan up at night.

28:36 – Vetpaw’s current business status and how individuals and companies can donate money or services to help.

30:32 – What supporters can do to see their donations in action.

32:56 – Failure and inaction not being options.

34:01 – What goes into having the supporters out there with the counter-poaching teams.

35:44 – The stakes of the work Ryan and Vetpaw are pursuing.

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