The Bunker Labs Wants to Know: Are You Ready to Start a Business?
By Justin Stokes
In continuance of our ongoing coverage for Nashville’s Bunker Labs, the accelerator program that targets veteran entrepreneurs is catering to the specific class of post-service personnel who want to continue serving the country by providing jobs for veterans.
April 28 saw one of the Bunker Labs Nashville Cohort Sessions – week four of 14, to be exact – that puts those wanting to see economic combat into a veritable boot camp that offers the basic weapons training of business acumen and team-building exercises that arm them with knowledge, ideas, and constructive criticism for their business proposals (we’re leaving the businesses “off the record” for now to ensure mission success).
The subject of this week’s cohort session was “Risk Taking.” Blake Hogan – the Director of Business Partnerships for the Entrepreneur Center and Founder/Executive Director of Bunker Labs – was able to share the importance of this particular meeting, and elucidate just how veteran entrepreneurs are unique to the market.
“There’s a myth in entrepreneurship that you should just ‘burn the ships’ and take every risk,” Hogan shares. “The myth is celebrated. And I think that’s irresponsible. We celebrate it when someone mortgages their house and is successful. But what if you aren’t?”
Using their service to underline his point, the notion of risks is old hat to those who’ve been shot at or potentially threatened by enemy combatants. It’s kind of a badass problem to have, but once you’re used to taking risks because your job calls for it, your fear of said risks is no longer what it was. Suddenly, the paperwork at the bank seems a lot less scary to a person like that. So, Hogan wants to offer a refresher on the understanding of risk from aspects legal, financial, and personal.
“We’re trying to teach the value of calculated risk – a potential opportunity that overshadows any setback. Otherwise, why take risks at all?” says Hogan, pointing to the assessment of cost versus reward to stimulate discussions of value assessment. “Everyone has their own unique risk profile. People ‘max-ing out’ their credit cards and getting their second mortgage, people might be comfortable. When people start a business, they need to ask themselves: ‘What am I willing to lose? What am I wanting to gain?’”
Since all of the ventures in the Bunker Labs army are veteran-led, the concept of the “army spouse” also plays a huge role that leaves them accessible for business help as well. Hogan shares that the Austin, TX branch of Bunker Labs had three of its 12 business ventures subject to “joint control,” which he shares made a greater degree of success.
“We heavily encourage spouses to sign up,” Hogan says, “as they make really great entrepreneurs. They have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. Their needs for extra income, plus the need to travel, makes it to where the spouse is the ideal entrepreneur. That ability to adapt and move across the country into a new community requires an attitude and a spirit that is embodied really well in entrepreneurs.”
That level of personal responsibility and obligation has in general served Hogan and other business personnel very well. “When I started my first business, I kept my corporate job the entire time. We had early revenue, but I ended up not quitting because it didn’t turn into the revenue that I needed. We kept pouring money into the business, but I kept the job. That business didn’t work out.”
As the efforts of Bunker Labs continue to develop and lead the country in business discipline, we’ll keep readers posted.
All photos courtesy Jessica Steddom