Bunker Labs Partners with Geekdom to Support Veteran-Launched Startups

By Iris Gonzalez
Army combat helmets photo taken by Israel Palacio on Unsplash.

National veteran-focused nonprofit Bunker Labs and Geekdom, San Antonio’s collaborative startup community, have partnered to support veterans and service members transitioning from a military career to entrepreneurship.

Bunker Labs supports veterans virtually and with in-person entrepreneurial programs in almost 40 major cities across the U.S. The San Antonio chapter first launched in 2016, only to shut down during the height of the pandemic in 2020. CEO Blake Hogan said Bunker Labs has since relaunched its three main programs in San Antonio.

Read: Bunker Labs Relaunches San Antonio Chapter to Support Veteran Startups

One of Bunker Labs’ programs is their Veterans in Residence business incubator for veteran-owned and military spouse-owned startups. Bunker Labs is partnering with Geekdom to deliver this program. New Bunker Labs cohorts launch every January and July, each running for six months. Entrepreneurs participating in Bunker Labs’ San Antonio Veterans in Residence program will have full membership and access to Geekdom’s work and meeting spaces in the Rand Building at 110 E. Houston St.

The first cohort to graduate under this new partnership will showcase their companies during Geekdom’s Startup Day, Wednesday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Geekdom Event Centre. The community is invited to meet the founders of four companies:  Jordylolo EventsFallen Raider Audio, Spearhead of All Logistics, and Photon Aerial Tech.

“As a veteran running a company in San Antonio, I realize how important resources are to a growing business,” said Charles Woodin, CEO of Geekdom, himself an Air Force veteran. “Geekdom is excited to offer its programs, network of mentors, office space, and most importantly, our encouraging community to the Bunker Labs Veterans in Residence founders.”

Bunker Labs also runs other programs to help veterans launch startups or small businesses.

CEO Circle

CEO Circle is a monthly peer accountability group for growth-stage company leaders interested in scaling their growth. CEOs and executives can ask critical questions about the issues impacting their businesses today via nine virtual huddles and four in-person fly-in events.

Members learn from peers and noted expert speakers and have access to a ten-week advisor program powered by JPMorgan Chase. Founders are sorted into smaller groups organized by business stage and revenue within the yearlong CEO Circle cohort.

Ambassador Program

Bunker Labs’ Ambassador Program runs over 12 months and connects entrepreneurial servant-leaders to military community business owners in a local entrepreneurial ecosystem. This volunteer role helps expands the participant’s professional network while supporting budding veteran-owned businesses in each community.

Entrepreneurial servant-leaders experienced in community building and facilitating discussions start a term each June to help Bunker Labs’ veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs. They facilitate monthly sessions and conduct quarterly in-person gatherings of all ambassadors and Bunker Labs stakeholders.

Bunker Labs Pitch Competition

This Nov. 10, Bunker Labs will hold its From Service to Startup pitch competition finals. Bunker Labs has partnered with USAA to award one startup winner $100,000 in funding.

The competition is in its first year. As many as 36 startups have competed in regional pitch competitions held throughout 2022, culminating with the final event in San Antonio in November. The winner from each of the six regional events has been invited to pitch at the Nov. 10 finals alongside four wildcard invitations selected from the regional events.

“USAA is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so they’re partnering with us to commemorate the important milestone,” Hogan said. “USAA started in 1922, thanks to the veterans who started the insurance company. They want to help find the next great veteran-launched idea to invest in fintech innovation. ”

Hogan said that Rick Narpaul, a San Antonio veteran and founder of an on-demand roadside assistance app called Mach1 Services, catalyzed relaunching of the San Antonio Bunker Labs chapter.

“As a veteran, I knew I’d benefit from Bunker Labs’ laser focus on military members’ unique experiences and needs,” Narpaul said. “Bunker Labs has connected us to valuable resources as we scale our on-demand roadside assistance company.”

As was the case for many organizations before the pandemic, Bunker Labs focused on holding many events.

“Now, we’re building up our local ecosystem resources for our business incubator Veterans in Residence, as well as working with Capital Factory to set our chapter up for success in San Antonio,” Hogan said.

The featured image is of Army combat helmets. Israel Palacio took the photo on Unsplash.

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