AUSTIN (KXAN) — The last year has been a momentous one for Anthony Gantt, an Austin-based entrepreneur who’s retired from the Marine Corps after 22 years of service. But his military retirement doesn’t mean he’s done working. Instead, he’s turning 100% of his attention to At Ease Rentals Corporation, a business he’s launched and expanded with a little help from Austin FC.

Last June, Gantt became the inaugural recipient of $100,000 in funding through the Austin FC Dream Starter Competition. The competition was developed in collaboration between Austin FC, Q2 Holdings, Inc. and Austin nonprofit DivInc to help support local entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups.

At Ease offers government-approved alternative living accommodations for military families relocating or facing temporary duty changes. The business model was inspired by his multi-decade years of service that, prior to launching At Ease, meant extended hotel stays that placed strains on himself, his six children and his wife.

Following its launch, At Ease now offers temporary housing in the following locations:

  • Austin, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Northern Virginia
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Tampa, Florida

With the $100,000 in funding received, Gantt said he was able to expand his company to five full-time employees, two part-time employees and several contractors that, once he raises additional funds, will be added to At Ease’s full-time team.

But beyond the financial flexibility the $100,000 offered, he said an invaluable resource the competition brought him was a network.

“I like to say, ‘don’t tell me where I can’t be. Just invite me to the table — I’ll bring my own chair,'” he said. “So if you are genuine and have a lot of authenticity, it makes it easier to keep those relationships forged and then when you tell people ‘hey, I know you’re here to help me but how can I help you as well?’ I think it makes the relationships go even farther.”

Just as he developed those relationships in his competition last spring, so, too, will a new set of dreamers looking to take a crack at earning $100,000.

On Thursday, Austin FC and Q2 Holdings, Inc. officially announced the kickoff of the second year of competition, opening its online application Thursday morning.

Eligible entrepreneurs are welcomed to apply through April 27. After an analysis of initial applicants, five finalists will learn of their advancement on May 27.

Austin FC and Q2 will host a pitch contest at Q2 Stadium on June 9, where finalists will present their proposed idea for final approval from Austin entrepreneurial executives. A winner is scheduled to be announced June 25, during the Austin FC vs. FC Dallas match.

As for Gantt’s plans for post-retirement civilian life? Well, you can bet freely traveling is on that list.

“One: To travel without asking for permission — I know that sounds crazy — and two is to just get out there and meet more people. Meet the people who I’m defending the nation on your behalf. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that and for me, it’s rewarding. It’s like a full circle to say ‘hey, I’m glad I did what I did for so long.'”