RALEIGH — What makes Raleigh a “sweet spot” for Veterans? It’s a welcoming city, says Simon Karmarkar.
Karmarkar is an Army Veteran and Co-Ambassador at Bunker Labs Raleigh-Durham, which provides entrepreneurship education for active-duty military, Veterans, and military spouses who want to start their own businesses. He spoke with TechWire after news broke on Monday that Raleigh was named WalletHub’s 2023 Best City for Veterans.
And he said that Raleigh is a great place for Veteran founders.
“We are exploding in terms of creating a vibrant, deep start-up ecosystem that supports the small business mindset as well as a large amount of established IT and research companies,” Karmarkar told TechWire. “The proximity to Fort Bragg, now Fort Liberty, makes Raleigh a perfect launching pad for Veterans separating from the armed services.”
Co-Ambassador Nisla Love is also an Army Veteran, and she has been a Military Spouse for 23 years (“and counting,” she said).
She told TechWire that Raleigh has great opportunities and strong diversity.
“Being a part of the military, you get accustomed to seeing and interacting with different people from all walks of life,” said Love. “It becomes your normal day of life. You learn to adapt to change, and you welcome it.”
Both Karmarkar and Love are also startup founders.
Karmarkar launched MásRefund, a bilingual Spanish and English tax-filing app, in January 2022 with the mission of democratizing access to financial tools,” starting with the under-resourced Hispanic community.”
He shared that entrepreneurship feels more accessible in the Triangle.
“Raleigh-Durham is not intimidating like Silicon Valley or NYC,” said Karmarkar. “The Research Triangle Park is relatively contained and welcoming.”
Love is the founder of Choose Love Solutions, an accounting firm serving small business owners and focused on “educating and empowering” clients.
She said that for founders, Raleigh has “many opportunities for your business to grow.”
Bunker Labs Raleigh-Durham Seeking a Facilitator, planning a showcase
Bunker Labs is a national nonprofit based in Chicago. The organization has 37 different communities and additional virtual communities, according to the Bunker Labs website.
Karmarkar told TechWire that the Bunker Labs Raleigh-Durham program is looking to bring on a facilitator for their upcoming cohort.
“This is a very new role for us and the parameters and job description are being finalized,” said Karmarkar. “In addition to the ambassadors, the role of the facilitator will be really hands-on in providing guidance for members of the upcoming 24Alpha cohort.”
Love also shared an upcoming Bunker Labs Raleigh-Durham event—and invited the community to get involved.
“Next month, we will be hosting our Veterans in Residence Showcase to honor our local Veterans and Military Spouse entrepreneurs,” she said. (The Veterans in Residence Showcase is designed to “rally” business and civic leaders around Veteran and military spouses, she told TechWire, with the goal of creating connections that help founders get customers, capital access, and partnerships.)
“We welcome the community to join us as we celebrate each Veteran and Military Spouse with achievements and making great impacts in their communities,” said Love.
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