Bunker Labs receives $260,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. today announced an expansion of its support for Bunker Labs to help active-duty military and Veteran entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. The $260,000 grant will fund two cohorts of Veteran entrepreneurs in Chicago and one cohort at the Bunker Labs chapter in Washington, D.C., as well as the implementation of a comprehensive performance measurement and management system.
Following World War II, nearly 50 percent of returning Veterans started a business. Today roughly 25 percent of post-9/11 Veterans state they want to start a business, and less than 10 percent of small businesses are actually owned by Veterans. Bunker Labs is working to present entrepreneurship as a viable post-service opportunity. Launched in 2014 by Navy Veteran Todd Connor, Bunker Labs helps meet the unique needs of Veteran entrepreneurs by providing training, workspace, access to investors and mentors, and a peer-to-peer learning environment.
"JPMorgan Chase's investment in our community of Veteran entrepreneurs is catalytic for the Bunker Labs organization," said Bunker Labs CEO Todd Connor. "As an organization founded and led by Veteran entrepreneurs, we know the desire and aspiration of other Veterans to develop their own businesses. Our partnership with JPMorgan Chase makes it possible for dozens of military Veterans to start and grow businesses with the supportive ecosystem that all entrepreneurs need to succeed."
The JPMorgan Chase grant will support two 14-week programs for 30 entrepreneurs in Chicago at the Bunker’s newly renovated home at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart. The program includes a robust curriculum designed by successful entrepreneurs and business leaders and shaped by the research of experts, including the Kauffman Foundation. The Bunker also provides its cohort members with access to mentors and early investors, experience with pitching, and other key business skills. Since launch, Bunker Labs has helped Veteran-owned businesses raise more than $16 million in funding, create 136 jobs, and generate nearly $6 million in revenue.
“The Bunker is exactly the kind of organization that we need in Illinois and across our country to support our military Veterans and those getting off active duty,” said Governor Rauner. “These men and women deserve more than our gratitude; they deserve our help and the opportunity to create a successful post-service life. The United States has the greatest military and the greatest economy. Bunker Labs is a catalyst that brings the two forces together and we all benefit from the results.”
“The innovators and leaders from the Bunker are providing extraordinary new opportunities for the growth of Chicago’s small business community,” said Kurt Summers, Treasurer, city of Chicago. “We all have a duty to support the men and women who have sacrificed for our country and I remain committed to ensuring our City’s Veteran entrepreneurs have what they need to thrive. Congratulations to Bunker Labs and JPMorgan Chase on a partnership that will only boost Chicago’s beloved incubator and further serve those who have served our nation.”
“Many of our country’s service members leave active duty with critical attributes that make for a great entrepreneur, such as leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving,” said Janis Bowdler, Head of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “Bunker Labs augments these attributes with the skills necessary to launch successful businesses. We are proud to be their partner in Chicago and Washington, D.C.”
JPMorgan Chase’s support of Bunker Labs is reflective of the firm’s longstanding commitment to America’s Veterans and their families. This commitment extends across three strategic pillars – small business, employment, and financial capability – three areas that significantly contribute to long-term, post-military success. This grant empowers the success of nearly 50 Veteran entrepreneurs to develop successful plans, secure funding, and establish new businesses in the Chicagoland community.