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  • Writer's pictureJoe Riley

From Firefights to Dumpster Fires: Transitioning from the Military to a Startup

Joe & Rachel Riley

After 8 years working for the nation’s largest bureaucracy, I’m launching headlong into the unstructured world of a new startup. The Army afforded me the opportunity to travel the world...some nice places, some not so much. From Oxford to Afghanistan to Ukraine to the White House, and a bunch of military towns in between, Rachel and I have been blessed to make lifelong friends along our Army journey. Looking back, there are memories that make us laugh, others that leave us choked-up, and some that still just have us scratching our heads.

What comes after the military? It’s a question all servicemembers wrestle to answer, but one that has actually been an easy decision for me. While Rachel and I were moving from base-to-base, we started building a portfolio of short-term rental properties. To be more specific, we started Patriot Family Homes during a deployment to Afghanistan. The house was fully furnished, and I wouldn’t be gone long enough to accept a traditional 12-month tenant, so we decided to just rent it on Airbnb. It did so well that when it came time to move to our next duty station, we put our home back on Airbnb. Instead of hauling furniture across the country, we just left it...killing two birds with one stone. Soon we started buying more rentals. In just a few years, we went from one home in Columbus, GA to over 150 properties across 8 states.

Joe & Rachel's First Home Turned Rental Property

How did we grow this fast while I was still on Active Duty and Rachel had another full-time job? Simple. We relied on our military community. As any military family knows, spouses struggle to find employment given the frequent moves that the military requires. So we started asking spouses if they wanted to help manage our portfolio part-time (or full-time). It was the best decision we ever made. This amazing group of military spouses and veterans has allowed our company to not just survive, but actually grow and thrive through a global pandemic that upended the hospitality industry...all while still working full-time jobs.

Now that I am no longer on active duty, I am pumped to take Patriot Family Homes to the next level. Our teammates in Patriot keep me connected to the military community that I admired so much, and our mission to build a national and international brand of short-term rentals lets me continue building mission-focused teams with great Americans.

The next few years are going to be exciting and challenging as we continue to accelerate our growth. Entrepreneurs often tell people it’s like building an airplane in flight. If they are truly honest, it's also a lot like running from firefight to dumpster fire! But if you are up for the excitement, we'd love to have you on our team.

If you or a friend or family member are about to leave the military and not sure of what your next steps will be, think about joining us. We’d love to help you build a great life for yourself and your family after the military. If you are not out yet, you should look at doing a Career Skill Bridge Internship with us before you ETS. We offer internships from 60 - 180 days. If you’re married to a lifer and struggling to find meaningful employment, come join our rockstar team of military spouses. Family is the middle part of our name, and it’s at the core of our corporate culture.

Our Amazing Team at a Renovation Project!

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