Bunker Labs has set itself the ambitious task of supporting veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs nationwide. Our hopes are to make entrepreneurship an attractive consideration for more veterans and military spouses, and that veteran and military spouse entrepreneurship returns to become a powerful driver of the American economy. We also want to see Bunker Labs entrepreneurs succeed, and find fulfilling careers in entrepreneurship. It’s impossible to approach such a mammoth undertaking alone, and fortunately, with partners like MetLife Foundation, we’ve helped many founders chase after their dreams.
MetLife Foundation and Bunker Labs
MetLife Foundation has been a trusted partner, funder, and friend to Bunker Labs since our inception in 2014. They’ve been instrumental in every stage of our growth, from helping launch the Raleigh, North Carolina chapter of Bunker Labs in 2016, to sponsoring our Muster Across America tour from 2017-2020, and even hosting many of those muster events at their headquarters in North Carolina. Year after year, MetLife Foundation has supported our efforts to help Veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs launch and grow their own businesses, seeing the inherent value of giving back to those who have already given so much.
As partners, MetLife Foundation has always been encouraging of Bunker Labs to attack new endeavors and experiment with new ways to reach and serve our audience of Veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs. They funded a number of initiatives that have grown into standard pillars of the Bunker Labs participant experience today.
MetLife Foundation funded “The Breakdown”, a weekly live show that served as a prototype for today’s Bunker Labs Office Hours. They also funded our first mobile app. Much of what we learned through that process led to the Bunker Online social platform we use today. MetLife Foundation is also responsible for our first version of Launch Lab Online, which was an attempt to replicate our in-person programming virtually. Virtual cohorts are now a standard component of most of our programs, and the Launch Lab Online name lives on through one of our courses aimed at ideation stage entrepreneurs.
These earlier, prototypical versions of services for our Bunker Labs entrepreneurs were critical steps that led us to the programming we have today. In some cases, the lessons learned were vital for adapting Bunker Labs to the Covid-19 pandemic. Having a partner as willing as MetLife Foundation to say “yes” to new initiatives, aware of the risks, but recognizing the necessity of taking them in pursuit of growth, is a rare and special kind of partner in the world of nonprofit organizations. And that spirit of innovation and experimentation in our partnership has continued to the present day.
In September of 2020, Bunker Labs dropped the first episode of the Transition Podcast. Hosted by Veteran entrepreneur “IRON” Mike Steadman and sponsored by MetLife Foundation, the Transition Podcast has served as a lighthouse for Veterans and military spouses navigating the challenges of life as first-time entrepreneurs.
“There’s a lot of hype around entrepreneurship these days and thanks to MetLife Foundation, we’re able to create one source of truth for Veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses, where they can hear stories and lessons learned from their peers, and so they have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.”
—Host “Iron” Mike Steadman
Often romanticized in the American cultural milieu, the Transition Podcast seeks to demystify entrepreneurship, divorcing it from flowery myth, luck, and legend. Host “IRON” Mike Steadman is always looking for insights and concrete steps his audience can take to benefit their business venture right now. It is in part this blue-collar working-class take on entrepreneurship that has made Transition Podcast such a hit with Veterans and military spouses.
MetLife Foundation has been fundamental to the show’s success. Their funding has provided necessary resources to create a polished, professional product that can compete with other podcasts in the entrepreneur and venture capital spaces across the internet. With MetLife Foundation’s support, Bunker Labs has been able to build a podcast that’s given our community a cultural touchstone, that helps Bunker Labs entrepreneurs in our New York City cohort feel connected to those in Bozeman, Montana and online in virtual cohorts. In that regard, the podcast has been an invaluable component of Bunker Labs’ transition into the nationally connected, locally thriving organization we’ve been striving to embody.
“Iron” Mike Steadman’s Top 5
The two-year anniversary of Transition Podcast’s first episode was just this past September, and in that time “Iron” Mike Steadman has already released 88 episodes exploring entrepreneurship and talking with founders about their challenges and wins. In honor of reaching this milestone, we asked “Iron” Mike which episodes were most important or meaningful to him.
Episode 36: The 5 Stages of Small Business Growth With Michelle Warner, Business Strategist & Designer
“The Five Stages of Small business growth is a great framework for understanding the entrepreneurial journey. Michelle and I break down each stage, and what the criteria is to advance from one stage to another.”
Episode 46: Traction. Startups Need it. Learn How To Get it With Bruce Cleveland, Renowned Venture Capitalist and Author of “Traversing The Traction Gap”
“Bruce Cleveland is a seasoned entrepreneur and venture capitalist, who understands how to scale B2B SaaS products. His book, ‘Traversing the Traction Gap,’ is a masterclass for early-stage tech founders and we discuss his traction gap framework on the show.”
Episode 65: How to Develop Your First Business Plan With Patrick Fitzgerald, Angel Investor, Startup Advisor, and Lecturer at The Wharton School of Business
“In the age of design thinking and the lean startup, it’s easy to think you no longer need to develop a business plan. However, business plans still have their place in today’s economy, as it helps entrepreneurs think more strategically about the strengths and weakness of their business idea.”
Episode 67: Why You Should Go After a Market With a Strong Demand Featuring Justin Jackson, Co-Founder of Transistor.FM & Author of Marketing For Developers
“Early-stage ventures fail for primarily two reasons, there’s either no market need or they run out of cash. The ability to identify a market with a strong demand and validating it with paying customers drastically increase the success of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.”
Episode 76: Stop Worrying About Scale and Focus on Getting 10 Customers With Mike Steadman
“A lot of us have great ambitions for our ventures, whether it’s a small business or venture-backable startup, but sometimes you have to crawl before you walk, and for most founders that means getting ten customers first!
Thanks to MetLife Foundation
So, for all this that Bunker Labs has accomplished with the support and partnership of MetLife Foundation, and all we will accomplish together in the future, a heartfelt thank you as we extend our sincerest gratitude. They’ve been with us every step of the way as we’ve learned how to reach and help our audience of Veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs, and matured into the organization we are today. We couldn’t have done it without their support, guidance, and participation.
Don’t Miss An Episode!
Listen every Thursday as host “Iron” Mike Steadman interviews veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs across all industries and stages. Learn how they overcame challenges to find success, and listen for those “million-dollar insights” that can take your venture to the next level. Subscribe to the Transition Podcast newsletter and never miss an episode!