(Photo by Jason Sherman)
Speaking at a veteran entrepreneurship event earlier this month, Mayor Jim Kenney made an appeal to the audience.
“Now that we are all speculating in terms of what the new president is going to do, the most important thing we can do as Americans, citizens, mayors, governors or entrepreneurs is to emulate veterans,” Kenney said. “Follow your mission, stay on course, be honorable and don’t complain about what comes.”
Kenney was speaking at The Muster PHL, an event organized by the local arm of military veterans startup incubator Bunker Labs. Sponsored by JPMorgan Chase and Comcast, The Muster featured a variety of entrepreneurs and authors for a full day of panels and fireside chats at Penn’s Pennovation Center. Venture capitalist Chuck Newhall and Combat Flip Flops CEO Matthew Griffin, who was featured on “Shark Tank,” were among the featured out-of-town guests. Local speakers included Coded By Kids founder Sylvester Mobley and founders from The Bunker accelerator. The event was one stop on the Bunker’s nationwide tour.
“As a veteran and a business owner, I just know the struggles of getting a new business started and knowing that there’s a lot of challenges,” said Joe Witte, program director for Bunker Labs Philadelphia. “We want to create a collision environment where we get together with thought leaders, mentors, potential investors and vendors who can bring us all together. “
Mary Hagy, CEO and cofounder of veteran media company OurVetSuccess believes organizations like the Bunker offer the stability and infrastructure for entrepreneurs to be in an ecosystem in order to grow.
“We work with a lot of veterans who come back from post-9/11 conflicts,” Hagy said. “We know a lot of the things they experience as they move from the world of the military into civilian life. Most of them have a lost sense of purpose. They are looking for camaraderie and looking to enhance their lives because they left something behind.”
When asked why veterans make good entrepreneurs, Hagy said there were many aspects of the military experience that translate into entrepreneurialism.
“If you have a passion to do something, it gives you a higher purpose,” she sad. “If you surround yourself with people you are in the bunker with, you get that camaraderie.”