This February, in honor of Black History Month, we’re looking back at some of Transition Podcast host “IRON” Mike Steadman’s favorite interviews and spotlight blogs from the past year featuring Black founders.
Transition Podcast Spotlight Episodes
Host “Iron” Mike Steadman has been talking to real veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs about their wins, challenges, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way for three years now on the Transition Podcast. We encourage you to hear and read the personal stories of these veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs, and follow and connect with them on social media!
Former Bunker Labs Ambassador & CEO of HillVision Holdings
Episode 101: Managing a Family of Companies with Vic Hill
Hillvision is a boutique, family-owned holding firm that features a diverse portfolio of companies including real estate, technology, and media. Vic recently secured a 100k pre-seed investment for his tech startup, MyRUCK, an API service that enables corporate partners to provide their customers with real time analysis of their military benefits profile. On the show, Vic discusses MyRUCK, his long-term plan for HillVision, and how he juggles running multiple businesses.
During a deployment, Thereasa was separated from her daughter for over a year, and discovered just how much processed sugar and sweets she was eating in her absence. She decided to find a healthier way to indulge her daughter’s sweet tooth. Bonappé Sweet crafts delicious, decadent chocolate bars that aren’t filled with processed ingredients, empowering you to enjoy sweet, tasty, satisfying treats without an ounce of guilt.
Frank Pollock has nearly three decades of experience in marketing, and is a third-generation entrepreneur. He’s also the acting Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for two veteran-led startups. Home Lending Pal is a two-sided marketplace that matches borrowers with lenders, and Blue Recruit is a direct-hire marketplace for skilled-trade workers. When he’s not acting as a CMO, he volunteers with Bunker Labs, where for the last year, he was our Consumer Packaged Goods facilitator for CEOcircle.
Army Veteran and VIR Alumni Donnell Johns is the Founder of Veterans Growing America, a company that provides a platform for veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs to showcase and grow their businesses. By partnering with local, state, and federal organizations, VGA can conduct local events and marketing programs to increase engagement with local veteran business communities.
Founder of IndyGeneUS AI
Episode 70: Using Technology to Create Equity in Healthcare
On this episode of the Transition, I’m joined by Yusuf Henriques, A former Army Combat Medic and Founder of IndeygeneUS AI, a Black-Owned & Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) genomics company that’s building a block-chain encrypted bio-repository of Indigenous and African genetic data for early disease prevention, detection, and drug discovery. After his twin daughters, Kayla and Keyara, were diagnosed at 14- years old with a rare and incurable eye disease, Yusuf set out to find a cure. Frustrated from watching his daughters jump from one medicine to the other, because their bodies didn’t react well to the various medicines due to their genetic makeup, he set out on a mission to study the human genome, find a cure for his daughters, and provide equity in healthcare for black and indigenous people across the world.
Bunker Labs Entrepreneur Spotlights
In addition to the great business leaders covered on the Transition Podcast, there are many more Black-led companies in the Bunker Labs ecosystem with incredible stories of building their impressive businesses.
Monifa Caines was determined to regrow her natural hair and restore its health from a lifetime of chemical treatments to get it to “lay flat”. When she was ready to reintroduce her natural hair to the world, she couldn’t find a single usable accessory for her type 4 hair. She decided to make her own, and in doing so, launched a business in women’s fashion accessories.
Stephane believes in the power of comic books to engage and educate children, and launched TrueFiktion to bring forgotten histories to life in full color. His educational comics have been recognized with awards, and he’s partnered with schools to help develop a curriculum that excites students.
After serving four years as an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) tech, Daniel transitioned to civilian life and pursued a career as a chef. He fell in love with pasta, and realized there was a niche in casual dining pasta he knew he could fill. He launched Farina Pasta and Noodle during the pandemic with a ghost kitchen, and has since grown to open a brick and mortar storefront in Philadelphia.
Support Black Veteran and Military Spouse-owned Businesses
In addition to the featured entrepreneurs presented above, there are dozens of Black-led companies participating in our Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship (BBiE) workshop today that could use your support. Browse the many Black veteran and military spouse-owned businesses that have come through the program, including our most recent graduates in the 24A cohort, and show them some support and patronage.
Representation matters, especially in the entrepreneurial world. Through the power of community and connection, the BBiE workshop aims to help participants shatter society-erected barriers for entrepreneurs of historically underserved communities. Interested in going through the workshop? BBiE is currently accepting interest forms for its next cohort.
Bunker Labs is Now Part of IVMF
As of January 2024, Bunker Labs is now a part of Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). In addition to ongoing Bunker Labs programming, we’d encourage you to browse IVMF’s deep wealth of entrepreneurship programming, much of it available virtually or at locations across the country. Find the program to help your business take the next step today!