The American military forces may be the most diverse organization in our country.
That diversity lends itself to some gaps.
Many veterans, like most civilians including myself, have not gone to graduate business school or an executive MBA training.
While Bunker Labs works with mostly veterans who have already left active service, these gaps can be in understanding the complicated process of building a successful startup within the entrepreneur ecosystem.
Filling the Education Gaps of Entrepreneurship
Bunker Labs works with another non-profit called EntreDot to deliver educational programming to the veterans beyond the connections to the resources entrepreneurs need within North Carolina. If I may steal or quote some data from the Kauffman Foundation, 70% of entrepreneurs who go through a structured education program succeed beyond three years.
That reverses the often quoted statistic that only 30% of entrepreneurs succeed beyond three years. The FasTrac program used to be offered in the Triangle. But this kind of education is rarely offered in cities without a healthy startup ecosystem. And even more rare in smaller cities where most veterans are from.
The Challenge is not knowing where the gaps are.
When I worked in Wilmington, we had an eight-session accelerator boot camp for entrepreneurs and half of the class was made up of veterans such as Edward Hall of the startup now called Petrics. This boot camp was sponsored by the great people at Live Oak Bank.
The challenge of having this kind of entrepreneur boot camp is keeping the attention of the people who are already good or think they are good, on the topic of the day.
Truth is we can all use a refresher course on skills like sales as trends bring new technology to make the sales process more efficient through additional data available.
Those of us in the business of entrepreneurship know that the full commitment to being an entrepreneur is a must. Dipping your toes means you are more of a wantrepreneur.
The commitment of the time and limited cost of the education is truly important to complete the homework of the boot camp. Much like the well-known Mastermind service, the other entrepreneurs are ready to hold you accountable to work on the weaknesses you have recognized in your business plan.
When I ask other people what they think of veterans as entrepreneurs, civilians discuss the value of discipline learned military service.
This discipline is very valuable as I also manage the WALE Angel Investor Network in Wilmington and three of our investments are into veteran founded startups. Sure Wilmington is a tourism destination at the beach and is full of distractions. But these veterans have been able to focus on the task at hand and get to work towards building the companies.
One of the hardest lessons for first time entrepreneurs is the fact that entrepreneurship is a meritocracy. Sure your family name can get you the meeting with the investor, but you still have to land the deal.
There is no current democracy in entrepreneurship as venture capitalists are solely focused on return on the money and time they have invested. Sure some investors are now encouraged to have diversity in their portfolios, but their investors want the best return even if the entrepreneurs have green skin.
We all are looking for more accountability from our leaders. An entrepreneur by default has to be a leader as the founder.
It is really hard to imagine a more accountable position than the Founder/CEO of a startup. Everyone on the team is looking to one person for guidance towards success – especially in the early days.
Courage / honor / commitment / integrity / loyalty