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Purdue EBV graduate wins award at national conference

When the call came and Ryan Ottosen was informed of the honor, there was only one reaction.

The call was to inform Ryan and his wife, Traci, their real estate venture – Ottosen & Co. – was selected as one of 10 semifinalists in the D’Aniello Family Foundation Business Plan Competition.

“I was humbled,” said Ryan, a graduate of the Purdue Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program in 2012.

It gets better.

Ottosen & Co. received the Arthur H. and Mary E. Wilson Top Venture Impacting Veterans Award and a check for $10,000 at the national conference. 

The couple’s ultimate plan isn’t as much about sales, instead focusing on stopping veterans from becoming homeless.

They founded The Vash Network to help end veteran homelessness by creating a pathway to home ownership, including safe and affordable rental housing along with credit repair services and housing education.

“Housing veterans is such an issue that I just can’t let it go,” said Ryan, who enlisted in the Marines Corps.  

When Ryan returned from Iraq, he had money in the bank from a house he sold in 2000 and was able to purchase a new home – a situation not afforded to a majority of veterans.

“If I didn’t have that house I think 100 percent I would be homeless or dead,” Ryan said. “If I had to rent, no landlord would’ve put up with me. I never realized how lucky I actually had it by having that house. I think once I made that connection, how blessed I was to truly own a home, I think that’s why I can’t let it go.”

Traci is also an EBV graduate, attending the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The two met in Arizona and eventually moved to California. Ottosen & Co is located in Glendora, about 25 miles from Los Angeles.

How did Ryan learn about Purdue’s EBV program?

Ryan was on a contractor’s tour at Camp Pendleton in California when he was handed a flyer promoting the EBV program. He saved the flyer and six months later finally read it. Ryan applied, was accepted and now benefits from the experience daily.

“I might have cried a little. I might have cried a lot but here we are,” he said.