Today, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a three-year expansion of their partnership with Bunker Labs, continuing their support of the work we do every day to help veteran and military entrepreneurs across the country. In 2015, the company was our very first national corporate sponsor and this continued support has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of military families who turn to Bunker Labs to help them build their dreams.
What many people may not realize is just how closely aligned one of the world’s largest media and technology companies is with Bunker Labs and our mission.
In fact, Comcast was a startup more than 50 years ago. This iconic brand had its start with the humblest of beginnings, just like many of us. Its founder, Ralph Roberts, served in the U.S. Navy and went on to work a number of interesting jobs from selling golf clubs to working for the Muzak Company. He was also a salesman for the Pioneer Suspender Company, which he would ultimately own. In 1963, he and two partners purchased a small 1,200-subscriber cable TV operator in Tupelo, Mississippi and Comcast was born. Today, Comcast is a Fortune 50 global media and technology company.
I tell the story and repeat it often to remind people that every great company, and every large company, always, always begins amidst the most humbling and improbable of circumstances. I have seen that firsthand. Three years ago, I started Bunker Labs, which works with military veterans who are starting their own businesses. Today, thanks in part to the support we receive from Comcast NBCUniversal, we have locations in 15 cities across the United States and support over 300 entrepreneurs. Our programs are uniquely positioned to support military veterans who very often are highly entrepreneurial and ambitious.
Today, less than 1% of young people will join the military. It is an increasingly small percentage of our country that many of the rest of the more than 99% will not get to know. While assumptions about the military might be made that this is a group of rule following, “yes sir, no ma’am” type of folks, I know firsthand how misplaced those and other assumptions might be. The young people that serve in our military are charged with solving complex challenges – a skillset that really translates to today’s business environment.
At Bunker Labs, every day I get a glimpse into the future by working with these ambitious men and women who aspire to build companies that are going to disrupt and shape our economy. Like choosing to join the military, these folks are looking at problems and opportunities and saying, “if I don’t solve it – who will?”
At Bunker Labs, we are honored to work with founders like Sandra Edwards, who built a bank from her garage by doing small loans for low-income vehicle owners who needed to purchase new tires. Or William Smith who served in the Army and has since launched Podmark, which makes “sharing a podcast as easy as using a highlighter.” The stories go on and on.
All of this is made possible by the creativity and drive of veteran entrepreneurs with the support of companies like Comcast NBCUniversal.
Bunker Labs locations: Austin, Bay Area, Chicago (HQ), Columbus, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angels, Madison, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, Washington, D.C.
Todd Connor is CEO of Bunker Labs.