Bunker Labs’ mission is to serve military veteran entrepreneurs help them start and grow businesses. Bunker Labs targets existing veteran-owned tech startups and aspiring entrepreneurs to come, create, and conquer the business world through their ideas, hard work, and strategy. “We provide business mentorship, access to investment capital, and help acquiring the first (or new) paying customers because these are the primary needs of all businesses and start-ups,” said Michael Ertmer, Executive Director.
Bunker Labs – Wisconsin (“BLWI”) at UW-Madison’s University Research Park is preparing to launch the “Innovator Academy,” 14-week seed accelerator program Summer cohort and is starting to accept applications. The Innovator Academy curriculum was developed with a $127,000 grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation based on research from the Ewing Marion Kauffman and Gallup Foundations, and is beginning to be deployed at the 10 Bunker Labs cities nationwide. It leverages Gallup’s bestselling “Entrepreneurial StrenghtsFinder” and starts with the “Entrepreneurial Profile 10” (EP10) assessment to help military veterans discover and understand their unique combination of entrepreneurial talents. The grant was also used to build www.BunkerInABox.org free online product of curated videos, activities and self-assessments, which is designed to improve participants’ understanding of entrepreneurial vocabulary and concepts.
The strategy and approach focusing on developing the individual and team parallels military culture, is unique compared to traditional start-up accelerators that center exclusively on the business venture, and has already yielded success for Bunker Labs companies to grow revenues or be selected for Techstars and similar start-up accelerators at orders-of-magnitude higher rates. Akouba Credit and Tribe.do were selected for Techstars Chicago last year and POLCO.us, now based at BLWI, was selected for the Seed Sumo start-up accelerator in Texas, among others. POLCO.us is participating in the Governor’s Business Plan Competition and has been awarded a Weinert Center Fellow (full-time, paid intern) from the UW-Madison School of Business.
Bunker Labs is based in Madison but its “goal is to serve any veteran, any business, anywhere in the state of Wisconsin” through evolving partnerships with the Wisconsin Technology Council, UW-Extension’s 13 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) throughout the state, and the UW-Madison School of Business.
“The core of Bunker Labs is about building professional networks for military veterans,” said Ertmer.
All military veterans are encouraged to join Bunker Labs to help build and expand their professional network and entrepreneurs who are interested in learning more and applying should signup on the www.bunkerlabs.org website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and attend “The Muster” next week, on Thursday, May 12, at www.1871.com in Chicago.