Bunker Labs held its annual Summit this past June from Tuesday the 7th until Friday the 10th in Austin, Texas. The seminal event brought much of the Bunker Labs community together for the first time in what feels like forever, including much of our staff, our board of directors, and participants in Bunker Labs’ CEOcircle, Ambassador, and Veterans in Residence programs.
Eight standout entrepreneurs selected from our Veterans in Residence program participants attended to represent the flagship program. They were also there as finalists for the first inaugural Bunker Labs Impact Award. Our winner, Robin Grable with Veterans Ascend, received a $5,000 prize from Bulova Stetson to mark the achievement.
There is so much more about this one-of-a-kind event we want to tell you about. Thankfully, Jay Sachetti of BundlHome, one of the Bunker Labs Impact Award finalists, offered to document his Summit experience to give those who couldn’t attend this year a glimpse into the event.
Jay Sachetti’s View from the Summit
Wednesday, June 8
Finally! I enjoy traveling and try to get out of town a few times per year, but I didn’t leave Minnesota once over this last winter. I guess that’s what your first winter season as an entrepreneur providing outdoor services will do. The day started off with juggling kids, a truck in the shop, customer calls and an estimate – just don’t forget the coffee! In mid-afternoon, the buzz of the airport was alive and well with Austin, Texas calling my name. To start the overdue trip off on the right foot, a fresh plate of poutine at the airport seemed like a great way to represent the northern border.
72 and sunny turned into 102 and sunny in about 2.5 hours. The Ambassador reception that evening was being held a handful of blocks from the hotel at a sleek HQ along the riverfront belonging to a cheeky establishment, theChive. Walking in, the energy shift was clear and real with faces beaming, smiles glowing and a crew ready to make the most out of being together.
Dave Vodarick and Stacey Huddleston from Kansas City gave me a run down on what they are up to and what’s new in that town. Dave is running a business that functions in a similar way to mine with a breadth of maintenance services and faces many of the same challenges, albeit in the commercial segment of the market. Perhaps he’s wise to avoid residential, but I’m stubborn enough to think that homeowners need a great solution too and by golly I’m going to give them one.
The evening finished up out on the town with a stop for some stand-up comedy and, of course, tacos. I had a chance to learn about the Houston chapter from Reda Hicks along the way. There might have been a little Constitution banter from one lawyer and a couple wannabes alongside the hot sauce. This won’t be found in the Constitution, but if you didn’t know that a waffle is an occasionally acceptable replacement for a tortilla, there’s a chicken & waffle taco dripping with maple syrup waiting for you in Austin.
Reda is doing really neat work helping to teach entrepreneur pitch classes for the Houston crew. As I was getting ready to do exactly that type of a pitch on Friday, her comments on nailing the short phrase that describes my business stuck like the maple syrup in between my fingers.
Thursday, June 9
I didn’t make it out of bed in time for the (optional) morning activity, but I did have time to take pictures of the unicorn in my room. It’s a fitting piece not only for the inspiration of achieving a $1B business valuation, but also for my 5-year-old daughter who can’t get enough of them and was super impressed!
As we prepared to join the day’s activities, meeting the other Impact Award finalists that morning was a pleasure. Brandon Childers, Nadia Anac, Daniel Lee, Harrison Floyd and Robyn Grable had come from all corners of the country and possess the vision to make an impact in their communities and beyond. It isn’t hard to root for your fellow veteran-associated entrepreneurs.
The rest of the morning and afternoon held breakout sessions and speakers. The topics ranged from the many corners of real estate – acquiring, renovating, maintaining, marketing, and more – to accessing capital in various business stages.
The Impact Award finalists were able to have a separate breakaway session with Dr. Raul Deju of Brightstar Capital. We had a chance to hear just a sliver of his story and meet a few wonderful people who had joined him. The message was clear – they want to help. Raul recognizes that our community of entrepreneurs has at least one distinct advantage. We tend to be “masters of improvisation.” We don’t have all the resources, but that’s ok because we find a way. Raul gave us a copy of one of his books with individual entrepreneur stories. I’m excited to stay in touch and, hopefully, find my story in a future edition.
Mess Night was next up. The barbeque was great, but the pomp and circumstance was even better. My military career wrapped up 8 years ago (where did that go?!), so it’s been a little while since I’ve had an opportunity to experience some of the traditions. You’re quite likely to find a table with a place setting but no chair at any major ball or banquet. This table and each part of the setting represents those among us who didn’t make it home or haven’t made it home yet. The story of each piece was delivered powerfully, and it reminded me of the unbreakable bond that holds our military and veteran community together.
The day finished up with one more special event at a private residence with an incredible view down the Colorado River through the middle of downtown Austin. The event gave me a chance to hear Blake talk about the future of Bunker Labs. Bunker’s CEO might live in Nashville, but he still represents Minnesota hockey hair in a way that makes us proud. Let me say though, I’m pumped for where Bunker Labs is heading—a sustainable enterprise with a mission focus even more centered on helping military entrepreneurs access connections and capital. We may have gumption, we may have drive, we may have much more, yet it’s access to the type of connections and capital that don’t come with serving in the military that we really need help with to accelerate the entrepreneurial journey.
Friday, June 10 – Pitch day!
Giving a pitch on my business to an audience isn’t something I do very often. I was pacing the sidewalks of Austin that morning reviewing my notes and key points while the city was in motion around me. Also in motion was a flock of little blackbirds. I must have missed a key point in the pitch when one of them decided to divebomb me like a WWII fighter pilot and clawed the top of my head. After cleaning myself up in the bathroom, there was a red drip left on my notes and the unexpected perspective that absolutely no one in that room was going to be out for blood. This was an audience eager to engage and support!
Before I knew it, the stage was calling, and I was just trying to remember: What does Bundl Home do… What does Bundl home do…
“We bundle and directly provide the most common recurring services homeowners need to maintain their home and that means we currently provide a variety of cleaning, lawn/snow and light handy person services. ”
It was all a bit of a blur, but I recall talking about our tech stack, total addressable market, pricing models, staffing structure and growth plans. We’ve been successful and fortunate in reaching the point we’re at and 20+ employees, but I can’t help but feel like we’re just getting started and need to keep growing to deliver on what I know a homeowner needs.
The feedback was incredible! Plenty of compliments, marketing insights, and new connections made. I’m super happy for Robyn Grable and the team at Veterans Ascend to take home some prize money. Their mission is awesome!
The trip wrapped up with a little time near water, where I can find my center. This was at Lake Travis with Niels Gott (an incredible coach and one of our Minneapolis ambassadors) and a friend of his. The plane took off as the sun was setting and the next week’s mission was quickly ahead.
A huge thank you is due to the Bunker Labs team for continuing to help our community in such a transformative way. Let’s keep growing and go do this!
About the Author
Jay Sachetti is the founder of Bundl Home, the simplest way to care for your home. As a homeowner and father with military, corporate and home services experience, he is passionate about helping fellow homeowners get their time back. He first became a part of the Bunker Labs family in 2020 through the Veterans in Residence program at the Minneapolis chapter and stays involved now as an Alumni Captain.
Want to Join the Bunker Labs Community?
If you’re a Veteran or military spouse and you’re launching or running your own business, odds are we have a program, workshop, or course that can help! Earlier stage ventures might look at the Veterans in Residence Program, or the Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship Workshop, or even one of our courses. More mature ventures looking to scale might investigate our CEOcircle program, while more experienced entrepreneurs that want to act as mentors, facilitators, and ecosystem builders might learn about our Ambassador Program.
No matter what stage your venture is in, the Bunker Labs community wants to help! Not sure which program is for you? Join Bunker Online and reach out to our community for advice!