We are excited to share this press release with our community! The Bunker Austin just graduated its first class of veterans and they are a fantastic group of smart, capable and soon-to-be VERY successful entrepreneurs. My personal history with The Bunker goes back to my work with Joseph at Ridescout when he was still with the ROTC program at UT, where he was always thinking about how to help veterans in the community. Now, as co-founder of The Bunker he isn’t only making the connections necessary to boost these startups, but also providing first-hand experience and knowledge to help them along the way.
As an alumni of our Venture Forth® program, Blake Hogan worked on Vet Commander, a startup focused on job creation and matching for veterans and has now become one of the co-founders of The Bunker Austin alongside Johnathan Paul Wojtewicz. Click read more to check out the full press release and learn how you can get involved with The Bunker Austin.
OR: Sabrina Wojtewicz
The Bunker Opens its Doors to Austin’s Elite Military Entrepreneurs
Inaugural Texas Class to Benefit from Community of Investors, Mentors and Startup Resources
AUSTIN, Texas – May 5, 2015 – The Bunker, the nation’s first innovation laboratory and community enabling America’s elite military entrepreneurs, today announced the extension of its nation-wide program in Austin to support growing veteran-owned business leaders. The inaugural class of 12 companies has an all-access pass to Austin’s community of investors, mentors and national professionals to support and increase their business success.
In 2014, The Bunker first launched in Chicago with 19 companies and experienced resounding success. The Bunker is quickly expanding its impact with 11 hubs across the nation, and the official second cohort is now up and running in Texas with The Bunker Austin. The Bunker Austin was co-founded by Army veteran and Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Kopser, CEO and co-founder of RideScout, which was part of the inaugural Bunker Chicago class and has since been acquired by Daimler.
In Austin, U.S. Marines and co-founders Blake Hogan and Johnathan Paul Wojtewicz are spearheading the local presence to fill a gap in the veteran business community, serve their fellow veterans and accelerate the entrepreneurial growth of America’s next best generation. A strong Texas economy, local support and the proximity to major U.S. military bases are indicators that The Bunker’s rapid growth and significant impact will continue.
“The primary driver of The Bunker’s success is the ability to cultivate a thriving and highly networked community,” said Hogan. “Austin provides the unique mix of ambitious entrepreneurs and a community willing to have their backs. The City of Austin and its phenomenal business community have welcomed us with open arms.”
Studies show that veteran entrepreneurs are almost twice as likely to succeed over their civilian peers when starting a new business. The Bunker helps veterans draw from their military training and a willingness to live in “the gray area,” which enables greater success.
The Bunker Austin’s powerful network includes leaders such as UT Austin Professor of Innovation and the inventor of Ethernet, Bob Metcalfe; co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional High Tech Caucus, U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul; and founder of the Tech Ranch, Kevin Koym. Many other Austin leaders have already signed up and pledged involvement with The Bunker Austin.
“Our mission is to accelerate America’s next best generation of military entrepreneurs and we are able to accomplish that thanks to our many partners,” said Wojtewicz. “We’ve already outgrown our current home at RideScout and in the future, will co-locate inside Capital Factory, the entrepreneurial center of gravity in Austin. We also look forward to continuing our strong relationship with our founding partner, Austin Technology Incubator.”
The Bunker’s first six-month cohort hit the ground running at I-Corps, an evidence-based entrepreneurship program led by The University of Texas’ IC2 Institute. Each week they attend a BrainTrust Session led by The Bunker and world-class thought leaders. The cohort then culminates with a live elevator pitch, Shark Tank style.
The first Austin cohort is less than halfway through the program, and features the nation’s best leaders, including a White House Champion of Change. The full cohort company listing includes: Battle Beds, BlackBox Trainer, CoolMellon, F7 Group, HireOurHero, HoopdieCars, Horton Tool, Sockwork, TacTikes, Unsweet Tea, Uride and V-Threat. As initial results, the organization has helped raise seed money, one company is already negotiating terms for an acquisition and Unsweet Tea has increased their presence from two stores to 15 with The Bunker support.
The Bunker Austin will begin accepting applications for their sophomore class of elite entrepreneurs on Independence Day, July 4, 2015. Veteran entrepreneurs and spouses are welcome to apply. For more information, visit http://austin.bunkerincubator.
About The Bunker
The Bunker is the nation’s first innovation laboratory and community enabling America’s elite military entrepreneurs. The Bunker Austin targets existing veteran-owned startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in Central Texas to come, create and conquer the business world. The Bunker has 11 affiliates that stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles. For more information, visit http://www.bunkerincubator.