RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – At Bunker Labs, we have struggled to get civilians in the private sector to understand why entrepreneurship is an important cause within the military veteran support organization category of nonprofits. Of course, we all want to provide “hands up” assistance to all veterans who have fought for the freedom and protection of American families, one of the best ways to do that is to support veteran run businesses.

Most Veteran Support Organizations (VSO’s) are based around disabled veterans and help with finding careers after active military service. Some veterans choose to be entrepreneurs, where they help lead their regional economies and become job creators for additional veterans. Bunker Labs was created just for this purpose since the percentage of veteran entrepreneurs has dropped from 50% of veterans after World War II to less than 5% now.

Local entrepreneur David Morken answered this for us when Raleigh based Bandwidth had an IPO on Wall Street on Veteran’s Day last year. (And Bunker Labs leaders rang the closing bell on the same day). Morken is a very proud Marine who started his company in North Carolina in 1999 and now has almost 400 employees.

David Morken

Morken will be the opening keynote speaker for the 2018 Bunker Labs North Carolina Muster conference, a full day entrepreneur conference to support and celebrate veteran entrepreneurs, military spouses and new connections to the private sector. The event will be held on September 20 at the MetLife GTO Campus in Cary, North Carolina.

The other keynote speaker is Steven Eugene Kuhn (Army), Principal of S2K2 Precision Management who is one of the leading influencers in the veteran business community.

There will also be panels about raising investor capital for startups from investors interested in working with veterans. There will be additional sessions including increasing sales, the Entrepreneur Operating Systems (EOS) and a panel to hear from successful veteran entrepreneurs.

The third annual Muster Conference will have some new additions but also an increase to $10,000 for the business plan pitch competition. You can register for this event online.

The Muster conference has been a sell out to capacity crowd of 300 people for the last two years as Bunker Labs draws attendees from a statewide presence in North Carolina, the third largest state for veterans with the presence of 13 military bases. Muster is a very affordable conference to attend in comparison to other full day entrepreneur conferences where entrepreneurs can meet the resources they need to grow their businesses.

The North Carolina chapter based in Durham was recently voted the top chapter in the country and top Muster conference in the country. This year many representatives from the national headquarters will attend the Muster Conference with some exciting announcements.

Bunker Labs is a national nonprofit organization built by military veteran entrepreneurs with the mission of empowering other military veterans and military spouses to become leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation.

We strive to inspire, equip and connect. The Bunker was founded in 2014 at Chicago’s tech and innovation hub, 1871, and has since expanded to support veteran entrepreneurs through local chapters in 22 cities including the Raleigh-Durham chapter and satellite events throughout North Carolina since 2015. Bunker Labs provides education, resources and networks for aspiring and current military veteran entrepreneurs through a set of programs and services that support entrepreneurs regardless of the stage or industry of their business.

The North Carolina chapter of Bunker Labs has become the model of growth and sustainability for the national growth of this promising veteran support organization that will soon have a presence in all 50 states.

About the author: Jim Roberts is Community Development Director for Bunker Labs.