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Darla Moore School of Business

The Proving Ground win helps MBA/JD candidate, his brothers launch military apparel company

Jan. 27, 2020

Franklin McGuire is balancing the Moore School’s MBA and USC law degree programs and a career as a U.S. Army officer with launching his and his brothers’ new company, CIVVIESUPPLY. CIVVIESUPPLY is a patriotic and military-centered apparel company which in 2019 won the Moore School’s The Proving Ground entrepreneurial competition.

McGuire graduated from The Citadel in 2014 and, instead of commissioning straight into the military, started working in sales and entrepreneurship as a civilian. He said he quickly realized that he wanted an opportunity to serve his country, so he enlisted in the U.S. Army as an officer candidate and member of the South Carolina Army National Guard. McGuire said he plans to remain in the National Guard for the next 20 years while continuing to develop his career as a civilian in the world of e-commerce.

Shortly after joining the military in 2016, McGuire began attending law school at USC. In January 2019, McGuire made the decision to also pursue his MBA at the Moore School.

“I decided to pursue the MBA/JD to hone my business leadership skills,” McGuire said. “I love business, sales, brands and e-commerce, and I appreciate the diverse toolkit the degrees I’m pursuing give me.”

McGuire said that being in the Moore School environment that promotes an enthusiasm for business and entrepreneurship motivates him in his business and personal life. He said he has especially enjoyed getting to meet business leaders and successful entrepreneurs through the network of the Moore School.

McGuire uses the skills he is obtaining in both his degree programs in operating CIVVIESUPPLY. Having started the business with his active duty brother and two active duty brothers-in-law in 2018, McGuire said the goal of CIVVIESUPPLY is to give military service members, veterans and their families a way to show American pride “in a classic-looking way.”

“My brothers and I grew up together here in South Carolina, so we’re all very close,” McGuire said. “Among the four of us, we’ve had fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and many other family members serve our nation through service in the military. For us to be able to use CIVVIESUPPLY to express our gratitude for their service and our belief in the values they cherished is a great honor and privilege every day.”

The four military officers believe that patriotism is something that all Americans share, so they draw on that pride to create visually appealing and military-supportive apparel for both service members and civilians. In particular, they aim to offer a level of quality in both garment construction and design that few other brands currently match, McGuire said

“We work hard to be top-shelf in everything we do because we love our customers and believe we have the best group of supporters in the world,” he said. “Ultimately, a focus on providing tremendous value to the customer is part of our core beliefs in family, legacy and authentic American values. CIVVIESUPPLY fills the gaps I saw in the apparel market by creating excellently designed and extremely well-made apparel that reflects military lifestyle interests and family values.”

The business had already launched when McGuire and his brothers decided to enter CIVVIESUPPLY in USC’s entrepreneurial competition, The Proving Ground. This five-month, three-stage competition culminates with a live-pitch event that identifies and accelerates innovative business concepts.  Participants have the chance to win up to $17,500 in cash to invest in their business idea.

CIVVIESUPPLY was selected by two different panels of experts to participate in the Shark Tank-style live event last March. McGuire pitched his business concept to a panel of judges and a live audience of several hundred attendees, an experience he called “thrilling.”

“I love getting up in front of lots of people to pitch things I’m passionate about, and I’ve always loved public speaking, sales, competitive debate and other similar activities, so this was a huge treat for me,” McGuire said.

After winning the 2019 The Proving Ground competition, McGuire said it offered CIVVIESUPPLY a unique opportunity to earn much needed start-up capital and to receive advice from successful entrepreneurs who were judges at the event.

Particularly, Maxient software founders “Aaron (’02 USC engineering, ’03 USC MPA) and Candice Hark (’03 USC biology) have been a tremendous support as we’ve worked on continuing to grow to scale,” McGuire said. “We’re extremely thankful for all of the USC family who gives back by supporting this outstanding competition. The Proving Ground gives you confidence, support and motivation to drive your idea as far as you can possibly take it.”

With plans to continue expanding CIVVIESUPPLY in 2020, McGuire and his brothers are currently working to market the company more widely while also continuing to develop exciting and innovative new products. Additionally, they are fighting to continually lower costs while still maintaining and increasing the quality of their products and their customers’ experiences, he said.

In the end, business goals aside, McGuire said the ultimate aim of CIVVIESUPPLY will always be to preserve, maintain and promote the values that the United States and its military are built on.

“We have a great country, a great state and a great military, and we’re proud to promote all three of them every day that we go to work at CIVVIESUPPLY,” McGuire added.

Hoping to move their sales into physical retailing spaces in stores and on military bases throughout the country in 2021, McGuire said he has aspirations to be a South Carolina startup success story and to build a recognized lifestyle brand that brings awareness to America’s military.

-Erin Mooney

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.