BTU #60 - Matt Miller: Air Force Pilot to Vending Machine Empire


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“I thought the corporate world was going to be the answer, and what I found out was yeah the corporation didn't control me as much as Uncle Sam did when I was in uniform. But the reality was that the rules changed all the time and they never changed in my favor in the corporate world. In the military, at least you knew what to expect with Uncle Sam. So I started to do some stuff on the side, because I wanted to have more control over our future. A buddy of mine from church mentioned one Sunday that his daughters and he had a gum ball business, and they were doing things together as a family and making money. And so initially I started out just selling gum balls."– Matt Miller

Matt Miller is the President and Founder of School Spirit Vending, a Hassle-Free, Year-Round Fundraising company for Schools that he started over nine years ago. He is also the Host of the School Zone Podcast, a podcast resource for educators, school volunteers and the fundraising companies that serve them and their schools. And he is also the Owner of Sticker Swarm Media, a publishing company for children’s books. And also the President & Co-Founder of School News Guru - a newsletter program. He started out at the Air Force Academy, after which he served as a pilot in the Air Force for nearly nine years. After the Air Force he served in a variety of sales roles, first at the Hospital & Health Care industry with Abbott, and then with the Marketing & Advertising space with Valassis.

The top three reasons to listen to today’s episode

  1. Empire - Matt went from being turned town for a payday loan, to working nights and weekends on a side project, to running an empire of franchises. And he’s done it completely solo for the first eight of the last nine years. He provides tactical advice on how you can do the same.
  2. Personal growth - Matt has some great advice about allocating 10% of your budget for personal growth and development and provides TONS of very specific recommendations on things to take advantage of with this budget. The Show notes are chalked full of links to things I plan to check out and would encourage you to as well.
  3. Creating the life you want - Matt burned his ships. He turned down opportunities necessary for promotion in the air force in order to have the time to devote to developing his own company. He talks about how he has constructed the life he wants for him and his family. And it is very, very cool.

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Selected Links



  • Live your dreams - top 10 reasons (book he wrote), ssvb business / uniform (download for free)

Show Notes

  • 3:10 - How Matt first started School Spirit Vending
  •  5:55 - How Matt continued to work full time while starting his company, and used his nights and weekends to get started
  • 8:13 - How Matt runs multiple organizations, all of which feed into each other
  • 9:48 - How Matt built a company that benefits him, his family, his franchisees, the community's children and their schools
  • 12:20 - What Matt's typical day-to-day life looks like
  • 13:46 - Where Matt goes today to learn, and what he would recommend to other veterans
  • 17:30 - How Matt's initial work in sales has helped him in his entrepreneurial journey
  • 19:40 - What skills Matt needed to acquire prior to starting his own company
  • 21:40 - Matt's advice to veterans thinking of starting their own company
  • 24:50 - One action that a veteran could take TODAY to start their own company
  • 27:55 - Matt's final words of wisdom