Checking in with Nashville’s Bunker Labs Chapter

By Justin Stokes

Launching a business is no walk in the park. In terms of economic understanding, being a small business owner getting their start might be one of the toughest things out there. It’s a battle with challenges around every corner and the worry that something can go wrong at a moment’s notice.

Indeed, it takes a special class of American to be an entrepreneur. For Bunker Labs, that special class of Americans may be those who have already served their country in the armed forces. The business accelerator, which was founded by veterans, is dedicated to helping fellow veterans entrepreneurs get the startup and business growth resources they need.

Executive Director, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the Bunker Labs Austin chapter Blake Hogan works closely with the Nashville chapter of the national network, which is supported by Comcast. Per Hogan, in the last two years, Bunker Labs’s Nashville chapter has helped grow 45 companies, created more than 100 jobs and generated $4 million in revenue.

But for the accelerator, it’s about more than just making Nashville a city of profitable enterprises. It’s about the people behind those businesses and plugging them into a much larger network and project.  

“For us, Nashville is the perfect city for something like Bunker Labs,” Hogan says. “There’s so much gratitude and emotional support for those both active duty personnel and veterans, and in a city like Nashville you’ll find it’s a lot easier for something like this to resonate.

“Renee Bobb, a Navy veteran and successful entrepreneur is helping dreams come true through the Music City Icons, a semi-pro women’s basketball team that is developing world class athletes and finding them big contracts in overseas leagues,” he adds. “Bobb also tapped into the Bunker network for a powerful launch aided by Mayor Barry throwing up the inaugural jump ball for the Icons.”

Hogan also offers examples of people like Neil Whitney of Menud, an app for celebrity-curated healthy meal recommendations, and Dave Roberts of TN Arms Company, which has grown market share and released new products. TN Arms Co has already done so well that Roberts has already launched another company: IShipdIt, a technology that matches cargo to available capacity for business owners and truckers.

He adds that Bunker Labs Nashville has also helped with creative endeavors. “Marjorie K. Eastman, an Army veteran and an award-winning independent author is a prime example of how leveraging the Bunker Labs network led to the funding and scaling of a national tour to promote her book The Frontline Generation.

The Bunker Labs innovation isn’t limited to Nashville, either. Bunker Labs launched a Tennessee tour to develop professional networks with military entrepreneurs across the state in Memphis, Chattanooga, Clarksville and Knoxville. A “Bunker Brews” event is planned for four cities in the state in 2018. 

The new year will also see the return of the Spring Launch Lab cohort in March. Participants get some great perks, like connection to resources and membership to the Entrepreneurial Center for the full three months of the cohort program. The 12-week curriculum hits all of the bases for skillsets that an entrepreneur might need, and the “from page to stage” program starts by testing an idea, developing it through peer feedback and offering mentorship from leaders of Fortune 500 companies.

For further information on how you can get involved (including details on how to sign up for the Spring 2018 Launch Lab Cohort) go here. Or, drop in for a cold one whenever they have their next Bunker Brews at the Entrepreneur Center.

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