A national nonprofit to help veterans and military families start or grow their own business is opening a chapter in central Indiana. Bunker Labs – Indianapolis aims to connect veteran entrepreneurs with programs and a network of mentors and other experts to help them get their ideas off the ground with help from Launch Fishers and the Indiana IoT Lab. Bunker Labs Ambassador Shawn Gardner says about 25% of service members desire to start their own business after leaving the military, but only 5% are able to do it.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Gardner said in addition to budding entrepreneurs, they are also looking for volunteer mentors.
“We’re really looking for folks in the industry who have had success. They don’t have to have been a veteran – always great if they are – but are willing to spend time, maybe a call a week, talking to a young veteran budding entrepreneur and helping them reduce their learning curve, learn from the mistakes that the mentor has been through and help us usher in that next wave of veteran entrepreneurship and prosperity for the state.”
Bunker Labs is a free, online resource for veteran entrepreneurs and John Wechsler, founder and chief executive officer of Launch Fishers and the Indiana IoT Lab, says he aims to provide more than just a location for the nonprofit to host events.
“Our hope is that we can tap our network of experts so that when a veteran does come back home and realizes they want to be an entrepreneur, we can tap our community to engage with that entrepreneur,” said Wechsler. “Whether they want to open a contracting business, a heating and plumbing company, or a design studio or software company, we think that our network is pretty broad and we will able to help many different entrepreneurs.”
Wechsler says the peer-to-peer networking among entrepreneurs will also help veterans understand the day-to-day challenges of owning a business. He adds being involved with Bunker Labs is a way to give back to veterans.
“It’s hard enough to start a business just as an everyday citizen, but when you’ve been gone abroad or traveling for the job of protecting our country and our freedoms, it’s especially hard,” he said. “And so we think reintroducing these citizens back into their community and offering a support network to help them become entrepreneurs may be one of the best ways we can say thank you.”
Those wishing to learn more about Bunker Labs can do so by visiting the nonprofit’s website.
Bunker Labs – Indianapolis will tonight host a launch event at Launch Fishers moderated by Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick and featuring a virtual appearance from Governor Eric Holcomb. You can learn more about the free event, including how to register to attend virtually, by clicking here.
Gardner says in addition to budding entrepreneurs, they are also looking for volunteer mentors.
Wechsler says he aims to provide more than just a location for the nonprofit to host events.