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‘It’s like TED Talks for veteran entrepreneurs’: Bunker Labs PHL’s Muster Summit

Speakers from SEER Interactive, Comcast Business and the Sixers are sharing lessons at the nonprofit's third annual event.

Brooklyn Navy Yard, Sept. 12, 2013. (Photo by Brady Dale)

After veterans returned home from World War II, 49.7 percent of them began their civilian life by starting a business. But according to 2017 data, only 9.1 percent of U.S. businesses are veteran-owned.

Helping more veterans take the entrepreneurship route after leaving active service is the mission of Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit whose Philly chapter, helmed by veteran Joe Witte, is putting together a summit than can best be described as a “TED Talk series for veteran entrepreneurs.”

The Muster Summit: Innovate & Inspire is happening on Sept. 27 at Hussian College in Spring Garden, and will feature talks from Sixers Innovation Managing Director Seth Berger, Comcast Business exec Laura Lee, Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds, and former Army Captain Chris Molaro, cofounder of NeuroFlow.

“This event will be of interest for entrepreneurs in general, as well as veteran spouses and veterans themselves,” Witte told Technical.ly. “The lineup we’ve chosen brings inspiring stories. It’s people who motivate us to get outside do something unique and overcome great challenges. In each of those stories we’ll ask them what are some of the smart decisions they made to get to where they are.”

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It’s the third conference the group has put together. Ask Witte for an overview of how things are going for veteran entrepreneurs in the region and he’ll point to the successes of the Labs Launch Lab program, a 16-week accelerator that offers mentorship and guidance while taking no equity in companies.

“Look at the 37 companies that have come through the Bunker accelerator,” Witte said. “They’ve hired over 300 people, raised $12 million in capital and are generating $10 million in annual revenue. We are seeing a difference.”

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