Incubator for Veterans expanding to Phoenix
Bunker Labs, an incubator that helps entrepreneurial Veterans, is expanding their efforts to Phoenix. The nonprofit currently has locations in Philadelphia, Austin, and Kansas City among others.
“There were a handful of us who were involved in Veterans entrepreneurship and we would be invited out to all of these conferences and conventions,” Bunker Labs executive director Phil Potter said. “A lot of people are interested in helping Veterans get on the startup route because Veterans make great entrepreneurs.”
The concept is that they provide a “national network of incubators” for Veterans. “Someone needs to immerse these Veterans in a true incubator experience,” Potter said.
The program is free for Veterans, and Bunker Labs takes no equity in companies. “From the Veteran’s perspective we want to remove all barriers,” Potter said.
The incubator also has an open entry and exit model. Since every startup is at different stages, they want to bring in people where they are at in the entrepreneurial process.
“We want to let everyone in at that point and plug in,” Potter said.
Bunker Labs was founded in Chicago and officially launched in November 2014 to give Veterans the network they needed to succeed.
“In that first year we helped collectively over 70 companies,” Potter said. “They raised nearly $12 million in angel and seed capital. Three of those companies made it into the Techstars incubator.”
Once a startup is in the incubator, they can stay in as long as they are continually moving forward. If entrepreneurs don’t succeed, they are free to drop back a couple stages in the process as long as they keep learning and achieving.
Due to their initial success, cities began to inquire about having a Bunker Labs concept in their city.
“We looked at a handful of cities and Phoenix is one of those,” Potter said. “The ecosystem is just bubbling and about to explode in a good way. Hopefully we can become part of the foundation of the next stage.”
Maricopa County currently has the 2nd largest population of Veterans in the United States. Bunker Labs plans on taking in over 10 startups in the Phoenix area.
Potter said the incubator is also looking to expand to Jacksonville, Raleigh, New York, or San Francisco in the future as well.
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Graphics provided by Bunker Labs
Correction of founding location and date noted after original post