Bootstrapping in America, a video series that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit displayed by up-and-coming talent to established successes alike, recently interviewed Todd Connor, CEO of Bunker Labs. In this interview, Todd took the opportunity to share his business insights, many of which have directly contributed to Bunker Labs’s continued success thus far.
In particular, Todd emphasized the importance of creating networks and forming communities for any entrepreneurial endeavor. Not only does this give the entrepreneur a support system to lean on through the process, it also speaks directly to the very human desire to build camaraderie with others.
As Todd summarizes it, “You still don’t want to be on an island whenever you’re launching your next thing.”
Todd quickly realized that the fundamental mistake many starting companies make lays in trying to give veterans what they need, as opposed to what they actually need and want.
Consequently, Todd began conceptualizing the Bunker by instead asking: as a veteran who’s also an entrepreneur, what would he want? The answer always came back to finding networks, building connections, and forging friendships—in short, being part of a community.
So, through the Bunker, Todd focused on creating a program for veteran entrepreneurs that went beyond just an educational function. As he put it, the whole model needed to serve what the veterans wanted.
“It’s our number one value,” says Todd. “Our number one value is we only do things that we ourselves would choose to do and be excited to do.”
To this end, the Bunker has pursued a number of revolutionary approaches in its work. For one, the Bunker employed a chapter model (inspired by the likes of the VFW and The American Legion), which offered veterans a chance to meet and share ideas in a physical space.
The Bunker is also careful to define success according to each individual’s personal goals. In defying traditional notions that success can only result if a pursuit proves financially sustainable, the Bunker is able to support veterans through their personal journeys of moving forward with their lives and ambitions.
But most of all, the Bunker’s potential to be a groundbreaking platform for veteran entrepreneurs is confirmed through its growing popularity.
“That, to me, felt like the wildcard,” says Todd. “Like, can we actually—are there actually 20 veterans in Chicago trying to start businesses that we can get into a class?”
Todd’s expression changes to one of relieved gratitude. “And yeah, they’re there. They keep coming.”
To listen to more of Todd’s thoughts regarding the elements driving entrepreneurial success, as well as the trajectory of the Bunker’s future growth, check out the full video below.