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DAV Patriot Boot Camp alum’s shoe brand honors military service

DAV Patriot Boot Camp alum’s shoe brand honors military service

Marines know a flashlight isn’t a flashlight—it’s a moonbeam. A pen is an ink stick. And running shoes?

“They’re ‘go-fasters,’” said Alan Parvis, a former civil affairs team lead in the Marine Corps with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and a DAV member.

Soon after Parvis left the military in 2011, he jumped into endurance racing, participating in marathons and long-distance triathlons. He came to depend on his go-fasters.

“When I run, it’s a way to clear my head, and it gives me time to think about anything that I’m facing for the day or the week or whatever challenges I have going on in my life,” Parvis said. “The other piece for me is this endurance aspect of it, and pushing yourself to the limit is a way to challenge yourself and prove yourself.”

But Parvis, an entrepreneur since his childhood lawn care business and an alumnus of DAV Patriot Boot Camp, soon saw a problem that needed a solution.

“As a runner, I faced a dilemma that many runners face when they run on mixed terrain,” he said. “Running a route that goes from pavement to trail, runners must choose from a less-than-durable road shoe or a less-than-comfortable trail shoe that doesn’t perform on the road.”

What came next was only natural. Equipped with over eight years of military service, college degrees in physics and engineering, and a passion for running, Parvis decided to create a new kind of running shoe.

When Marine veteran Alan Parvis set out to design a high-performance running shoe for mixed terrains, he wanted to pay homage to military service. The text “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” that appears on the toe of GOFASTER Athletic shoes is a nod to the instructions found on Claymore mines.

“I wanted to create something that was really comfortable and had the durability to go anywhere that you’re needed and anywhere that you run,” he said. “The other piece of it was paying homage to my military service and supporting the [military] community. I wanted to build a company and a brand that spoke to the community.”

That’s how GOFASTER Athletic was born.

READY, SET, GO

In February 2023, Parvis attended a three-day DAV Patriot Boot Camp at DAV National Headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky. The program is designed specifically for entrepreneurs in the military community and consists of panel discussions, presentations, workshops, one-on-one mentoring and networking opportunities.

“[Entrepreneurship] comes with a lot of self-doubt, and you have to always find the motivation to keep moving forward,” Parvis said. “And so, every opportunity you have to connect with other entrepreneurs going through different or similar challenges reignites that fire and then gives you the momentum and the push to keep moving forward.”

During the event, Parvis was selected as one of three finalists to participate in a virtual pitch competition hosted by DAV and judged by leading entrepreneurs. The judging panel included famed chef and U.K. Royal Navy veteran Robert Irvine, a DAV supporter.

Representing GOFASTER, his high-performance running shoe company, Parvis won the pitch competition and $1,500 in no-obligation funding to go toward his venture. He also won the encouragement of the judges, all of whom expressed excitement about his product.

“Our virtual pitch competition is an extension of the community and support that participants discover during the three days of boot camp,” said DAV Patriot Boot Camp Director Nick Brophy. “We are grateful for all of our world-class mentors and judges who make this an educational and valuable experience that propels entrepreneurs like Alan Parvis into the next phase of their journey.”

The feedback was encouraging, and GOFASTER is on track to bring its first shoe to customers.

“I’m really interested in this,” Irvine told Parvis. “I’m one of your potential customers.”

“It feels good,” Parvis said. “When I talk with people about it, they get excited, and that feels really empowering.”

With thoughtful, unique technology and positive feedback, Parvis is confident he can help fill a “gaping hole” in the market. He’s also created a product that speaks to the veteran community and honors military service—from toe to heel.

On the tip of a GOFASTER shoe reads “Front Toward Enemy,” a reference to the instructions sprawled across the concave face of a Claymore mine. On the side of the shoe, reflective lines mimic the ejection port cover of an M16 rifle. The special “Quick Response Foam” designed into the shoe is called QRF for short, a nod to the military’s “Quick Reaction Force” acronym.

“If we can be an integral and successful part of a larger ecosystem supporting veterans, then it’s a win for everyone,” Parvis said. “And with partners like DAV, we can have a broader reach and impact on our community.”

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