Great news for veterans — Bunker Labs is back in San Antonio, Texas.
This national nonprofit organization is dedicated to supporting veterans and service members as they transition from a military career to entrepreneurship, with programs that can help them launch a startup or small business.
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 relaunched its three main programs in San Antonio.
Veterans in Residence
Veterans in Residence is a business incubator for veteran-owned and military spouse-owned startups. Bunker Labs partners with WeWork to deliver this program. New cohorts launch every January and July. Each cohort runs for six months.
If Veterans in Residence is offered in a location without a WeWork (as is the case with San Antonio), a local coworking space will provide the same or fundamentally similar space. Some cohorts are offered entirely virtually to provide access to entrepreneurs without a local cohort.
The current cohort, featuring 320 entrepreneurs across 35 cities, and five virtual cohorts, is “the largest we’ve ever had,” Hogan said. “There are many business incubators in the United States. There are few business incubators created by and for the veteran and military spouse entrepreneur community.”
CEO Circle is a monthly peer accountability group for growth-stage company leaders interested in scaling their growth. Throughout nine virtual huddles and four in-person fly-in events, CEOs and executives can ask critical questions about the issues impacting their businesses today.
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.
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 Lab 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 a series of 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.