Veterans to Entrepreneurs – Mission First, People Always


Veterans’ Day is particularly special for Rumi Spice. Three of our co-founders are veterans – all with experiences in different parts of Afghanistan, in different capacities, and in different phases of the war’s development. Kimberly searched for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along roadsides in eastern Afghanistan. Keith speaks fluent Dari and worked with Afghan locals and government officials as part of the Afghan Hands program in Wardak and Bamiyan. As a Cultural Support Team member, I went on night missions with Special Operations and worked directly with Afghan women and children in Sharana, Afghanistan. The one thing we all have in common: a desire to serve a cause greater than ourselves.

Given how small and young Rumi Spice is, we are incredibly proud of our team’s diversity. We come from big cities and small towns, alike. We are sons and daughters of immigrants, we are 50% women-led, and we count LGBTQ members amongst our leadership ranks. If you had a beer with us, you’d be just as likely to end up in a discussion about military history as you would debate the impact of the Velvet Underground on American rock music.

There is a remarkable bond between our team, even as some of us have yet to meet face-to-face (our team is spread across the country, mostly coordinating via email and Slack). There is a lot to be said for knowing that someone shares the same unspoken values that you do – work hard, be diligent, take initiative, give credit instead of taking it. There’s also something unique about veterans working together in the civilian world – in other jobs you’re almost always the only veteran in the room.

Within the Rumi Spice team, we “speak veteran” – we understand the rhythm of unpredictable, changing circumstances. Subordinating ourselves to the mission and knowing that others are doing the same, comes naturally. Taking on something ambiguous and dauntingly large, is in our blood. Creating a strong, healthy culture is a major topic in the startup community, so perhaps one of our greatest assets has been that our team has this bedrock of hard-earned, ingrained values that enables us to move forward with the drive that entrepreneurs call “passion.”


In the last year we’ve all learned that the thought of tackling a seemingly impossible task becomes much easier when you are part of a team that’s willing to grind it out and stick together – in many ways, it’s just like being back in the military. Thank you for your support as we take on our most important mission yet – cultivating peace in Afghanistan.

Veterans to Entrepreneurs – Mission First, People Always