Rob Riggle & The Bunker Labs KC!

 

Got a chance to meet Rob Riggle at the Oread hotel in downtown Lawrence, Kansas last night.  Rob is a former USMC officer and KU alumni.  He was in town for a charity event and had a few minutes to learn about The Bunker veteran entrepreneurship program and our chapter here in KC.

 

Riggle - Bunker KC

The Muster 2015 – Chicago

Our National Conference on Military Veteran Entrepreneurship called The Muster was held in Chicago on

May 28th inside the 1871 startup accelerator.

The event was an enormous success and we will be announcing several nationwide

sponsors & partnerships from the event.

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Unlock the GI Bill For Military Veteran Entrepreneurs

At The Bunker KC we support this effort for the following reasons.

1. The graduation rate for student veterans is less than 20% on average at for-profit colleges nationwide.

2. We know from talking to hundreds of veterans that many simply use their GI Bill for the monthly living stipend.

3.  Nationwide only 54% of veterans EVER use any part of their GI BIll for educational purposes.

4. The data we have collected here in KC show that only 1 in 7 veterans in that area have used their GI Bill benefits.

5.  It is predicted that by 2020, 40% of all employees will be freelancers or conduct freelance work on the side.

6.  The military spends billions of dollars training veterans with skills that are in high demand industries like cyber-security, nuclear engineering, unmanned aerial systems (drones).  We think these skills can translate into small business ownership which will create jobs.

Lawmakers push to let veterans use GI benefits for business, not college

KC Centurions Leadership Luncheon Event

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On Friday, April 24th we hosted a lunch for the KC Centurions leadership program that is ran by the KC Chamber of Commerce.  COL Croft who is an assistant director at CGCS in Ft. Leavenworth spoke about leadership and answered questions from the group on how the Army selects and promotes future officers.  Great quote from the event ‘ “I feel we need leadership lessons from the military being taught at every company in Kansas City on a monthly basis, the country is desperate for leadership” – Chad Cillessen, COO – C-C Engineering Group

The Bunker KC & Big Omaha Entrepreneur Event

The Bunker KC will be going to the Big Omaha Entrepreneur Event on May 7th & 8th.  The event will be held at the Kaneko facility at 1111 Jones St., Omaha, NE 68102

To get more information and tickets for the event, please go to www.bigomaha.co

We will be holding a networking mixer for veterans on the evening of May 7th at a hotel in downtown Omaha.

If you are interested in attending this mixer, please email us at hello@thebunkerkc.com

Thanks,

Sean

Great Article by David Arnold with Straight Shot Ventures

http://siliconprairienews.com/2015/03/david-arnold-omaha-model-accelerators/

 

I had a chance to attend the 2014 Global Accelerator Network Conference shortly following Straight Shot’s most recent Demo Day. I took many things away from this event, but the one that struck closest to home was the realization that Managing Directors leading accelerators of various ages worry about the same three things:

  • How do we generate quality deal flow for our program?
  • Can we differentiate our accelerator in an increasingly crowded (and diluted) market?
  • Does our network include the type of resources – capital and strategic partnerships – that graduates need most to maintain the momentum they build during the 90 days?

On one hand, this was comforting because it likely means Straight Shot isn’t as far behind an accelerator that’s been around for five years as we may have thought.

The catch-22, however, is that it also means that accelerators just entering the market aren’t as far behind us as we’d prefer. This creates a sense of urgency to explore ways to take our organization to the next level and find novel ways to assist new ventures get off the ground.

As I’ve thought about the ways to evolve the traditional accelerator model Straight Shot has employed in its first two years, it struck me that developing closer ties to our community’s existing economy has inherent advantages for a program like ours.

Additionally, as Omaha’s fledging startup ecosystem continues to define itself, there’s a synergistic opportunity to bring these two conversations together to ensure we’re properly leveraging our collective potential.

We will never be better at being Techstars than Techstars.

A trailblazer in the accelerator industry has been and continues to be the Techstars organization. Not only did they lead the way in establishing the 90-day, mentor-driven approach that’s been copied by many, they’ve also begun to launch vertical-focused accelerators with their Powered by Techstars model.

While they deserve credit for both successful endeavors, it would be a fool’s errand for Straight Shot to simply try to beat Techstars at their own game.

Top tier accelerators like Techstars and YCombinator have built brands based on high-quality results that have generated interest from startups and investors without the need for significant outreach or effort.

Due to their success the nation has seen similar programs pop up in each state, and we’re now experiencing increased segmentation between those in rare air and everyone else who’s left competing for the startups who don’t get accepted to the premier programs.

We here in the Midwest have a reputation for being modest and having an aversion to bragging about our strengths. However, this can often mask that we are at the same time a prideful sort that has an inability to accept mediocrity. As long as I’m the Managing Director of Straight Shot I similarly refuse to accept that our inevitable fate is to be an afterthought accelerator.

The next Boulder is Boulder.

Techstars is also relevant to this discussion because of it being headquartered in Boulder, the sleepy college town that over a short period of time became a powerhouse within the national startup community. Boulder’s path to its spot today has been often editorialized both by observers as well as by those who actively lead the successful community building efforts.

While the story of Boulder validates that it’s possible for thriving startup ecosystems to be created and cultivated, it would be a mistake to simply try to carbon copy their blueprint. By the time our community could perfect their model it will have already evolved, and we’ll remain playing catch up.

The Boulder experiment was successful because it was authentic and tied to the strengths of those with the desire to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For our community to have the same type of success we should aim to copy not their efforts but instead their process. We must examine our history and existing economic strengths with an eye toward opportunities to create something truly unique.

The Omaha Model

Omaha is a relatively small metropolitan area that enjoys a disproportionately large presence of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. Its size and history have also cemented a business culture that’s collaborative, charitable, and relationship based.

It’s these ingredients that lead me to believe Omaha is uniquely qualified to connect the old and new economies by building mutually beneficial bridges between startups and large corporations. Additionally, we’re blessed with strong higher education institutions that already have strong talent pipeline to the community’s largest employers.

Both staple stakeholders – corporations and universities – are also currently faced with a new generation of workers and students who are both quicker to challenge the status quo and intrigued by starting or working for a technology startup. This creates a present that is ripe for the community to rethink the way we work together and to create a model that leverages our best assets to set us apart.

Straight Shot is advancing this conversation by vetting deeper partnerships with key members of our business community to form creative opportunities for startups and corporates to come together. Like other programs in Omaha, our accelerator has provided various members of the community with an opportunity to dip their toes into the entrepreneurial waters.

I hope you’ll join us as we look for others who are willing to double down, dive in headfirst, and begin charting our own path toward becoming a unique and admired entrepreneurial ecosystem.

NDAS ARE FOR DUMMIES

I recently asked Sean McIntosh (Founder of VetLaunch and Executive Director at The Bunker KC) what he’s seeing as the biggest hurdle for veterans jumping into entrepreneurship for the first time. Just as expected, he told me veterans are hesitant to share their ideas or products without a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

I’ve seen this in my own conversations with fellow veterans but he’s seeing it in a much more dangerous setting: With potential investors.

Of all people, you should be MOST WILLING to share your product, growth plan, financial projections, almost everything with investors! They’re the ones funding your idea!

Here’s Sean’s point: “Veterans who are new entrepreneurs must understand that angel investors see hundreds of ideas & products per month. If those angels signed an NDA with every single startup, they would never get to talk to anyone. The ability to execute an idea with the resources on hand is the true secret.”

Yep, lots of truth there.

If there’s one thing to know as an entrepreneur, it’s this:

Ideas are worthless. Execution is all that matters.

Successful entrepreneurs know they can’t build a business in a dark basement. They need input from customers, investors, friends.

Would you rather spend your time with lawyers reviewing NDAs or spend it actually building a business?

It better be the latter because…

There are hundreds of actions you have to execute on to have a successful business and having an idea is only one of them.

Derek Sivers, Founder of CDBaby, broke it down this way in 2009.

Ideas are just a multiplier of execution

Graphic from Crew

So even the most brilliant idea (20) with so-so execution ($10,000) is only worth a paltry $20,000. It’s math, try to argue it.

Ok, now that you’re over the whole NDA thing….

Here’s how to start executing on your business idea.

1) Don’t be tied too deeply to the specifics of your idea. Let your customers guide you to the perfect product or servicethat they want. Your business is nothing without your customers so it’s in your best interest to listen to them.

2) Don’t build your business in a box. (Unless it’s really important it fits in some very specific box). Put your idea in front of as many people as possible, especially other successful entrepreneurs. They’ll be able to give you the best advice so you don’t make the same mistakes they did…..like keeping their “genius idea” secret too long.

And Remember…..Starting a business is about taking risks.

Whoever can take the most risk, in the shortest amount of time without failing will win in the long run.

Yes, sharing your ideas without an NDA is a risk. BUT, keeping your idea locked behind an NDA is 1,000 times riskier.

Great ideas come come and go – you’ll have more. Protecting your idea isn’t important. Turning it into something revolutionary is all that matters. And to do that, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Skip the NDA. Share your idea with the world. Get feedback. Start executing.

USMC Veteran Entrepreneur at Aero Plains Brewing in Wichita News

http://www.kansas.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/carrie-rengers/article9906440.html

Great Article about our startup portfolio company Aero Plains Brewing in the Wichita News.

Aero Plains Brewing working on financing to open late this year

Former Marine Lance Minor returned to his native Wichita in late 2012 with thoughts of opening a brewery. He says he was working on it when he got the H1N1 virus and went into a 7-week coma early last year.

When he came out of it, he says that “there was a little bit of soul searching going on.”

“I came to the conclusion I still wanted to do it,” Minor says of opening the brewery. “I had sorted through a lot of the negative things. It made me more resolute to do it.”

That attitude is now helping during the capital campaign for Aero Plains Brewing.

“We’re trying to raise about a million dollars, so it’s a pretty big project,” says Minor, who is CEO.

He and partners, including his nephew Ryan Waite, who will oversee brewery operations, and Brent Miller, COO, are hosting beer tastings with various business people around Wichita to raise interest and money for the business.

“It’s been a challenge to reconnect with … the key players in Wichita,” says Minor, who was in the Marines for 21 years before getting out in 2012.

Minor also is working on a $600,000 loan for the business and trying to raise the rest of the money.

“Things are looking very optimistic,” he says. “It’s moving along.”

Minor is eyeing a couple of Old Town-area sites to open the brewery.

“It’s hard to nail down places until we actually have the money,” he says.

Minor says he wants a place with a lot of foot traffic, but he says it doesn’t have to be Old Town because the brewery isn’t going to be a typical bar.

“It’s not a party place,” Minor says, though he says there could be music during the day on weekends.

He says he and his partners want to have a tasting room attached to the city’s biggest production and packaging brewery.

So far, they have five craft beers, which you can check out atwww.aeroplainsbrewing.com.

Minor says his idea “is to make craft beer that is approachable.”

“Eighty percent of people are still drinking light American lagers,” he says.

Minor says he wants to convert them to craft beer.

“The key in my line … is to convert all those that aren’t aware.”

He says brewing to extremes – such as a particularly stout stout or an especially hoppy IPA – is fine for people who are already fans, but he says there needs to be something more palatable for average beer drinkers if they’re going to be converted.

“That’s kind of my business approach to beer.”

Minor says he hopes to have his financing in place by the end of May. From there, he says it’s a matter of finalizing a place to open and ordering equipment, which will take months.

If all goes well, Minor says he could see having Aero Plains Brewing open by the end of the year.

And if it doesn’t?

“Keep trying.”