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Maya Shaposhnik during her military service

We caught up with Maya recently to learn more about her military experience, her startup, and the strong sense of camaraderie she’s found in Booth’s Armed Forces Group.

What was your experience like in the Israeli military?
My job was to teach infantry how to use different weapons and armored personnel carriers and how to apply various military tactics. In my first year, I was stationed in a training base in the south of Israel. In my second year, I moved from base to base, serving on the Gaza and Lebanon borders. It was a very intense experience—we were right on the border, so we had less than five seconds to take cover when we came under fire. But I felt very lucky that the military entrusted so much responsibility in me.

What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
After the military I became an entrepreneur, starting with an event planning company that we scaled within five years while I was still living in Israel. After that I worked in major gift fundraising for AIPAC, a lobbying organization, but I missed building something from the ground up and building a team and all the other great things that go into being an entrepreneur. I knew that I needed a space where I was not working and could focus on starting my own venture, so business school was a great transition for me.

How did you choose Chicago Booth?
First of all, my husband and I got into Booth together, so the school saw value in us as a couple. That was a huge piece of our decision-making. Also, Booth is one of the best business schools in the world, and with my interest in entrepreneurship, I had my eye on the New Venture Challenge. Finally, the Armed Forces Group was a huge thing for me. Chicago Booth has a significant community of veterans who are very supportive.

Also, I wanted to be the change I wanted to see. Booth doesn’t have a lot of women entrepreneurs or women veterans, and I wanted other women who were considering Booth to know my story and know that they could do it too.

What makes Chicago Booth a good place for you as a military veteran?
Part of the reason I love Booth is because of the Armed Forces Group. It’s a phenomenal group of individuals who understand and support each other. I’m a co-chair of AFG, and any time I reach out to say I need support on something, the other members cover for me and get it done. We were all in the military, so we feel a strong sense of camaraderie—and we all understand that you can’t function in a silo.

“I wanted to be the change I wanted to see. Booth doesn’t have a lot of women entrepreneurs or women veterans, and I wanted other women who were considering Booth to know my story and know that they could do it too.”

— Maya Shaposhnik

Tell us about your startup, Vetted, which won third place and the People’s Choice Award in the 2021 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.
I grew up with dogs, and then in 2020 my husband got me a French bulldog for my birthday—the best gift ever. But I was really disappointed with my experiences in the pet health space. I never had more than 10 or 15 minutes with the vet, and then I wouldn't know what to do at home. It wasn’t a full, comprehensive resource.

At Booth, I met Ashley Brooks, my co-founder, who shares my passion for revolutionizing pet care and what we call pet parenthood. It’s not the annual visit with the vet that’s going to determine your pet’s health—it’s about what you’re doing in the home. And nobody empowers caregivers with education, tools, support, and community. We decided to found Vetted to provide all of those things.

How does Vetted work?
It’s an annual membership focused on preventative health for pets. Members receive curated kits that are made by a council of vets who find the best, most innovative products on the market today. It’s all connected to a mobile app that pings you with reminders to clean your pet’s ears or brush their teeth, then connects you to content about how to do those things and why they’re important. We also have a chat function that connects you with a vet technician, a vet student, or a vet. We’re not trying to diagnose conditions or replace your vet. What we want to do is guide and advise you on day-to-day issues.

Where does the business stand now?
We raised about a quarter of a million dollars through the New Venture Challenge, and then over the summer we did a fundraising round that raised one and a half million. We ran a beta test with 30 or 40 customers who provided feedback, and then we officially launched on February 7.

How does your military experience inform your work as an entrepreneur?
In the military, I was leading units of 1,000 men when I was only 18. That was a crazy level of responsibility to put on me, but it was also super empowering. Now I don’t feel intimidated to lead large groups or to be the only woman in the room. And trust me—pitching to VC firms, it’s all men. As a person from the military, I feel extremely comfortable.