On October 13th, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned two sailing vessels, armed with 10 carriage guns and swivel guns, with crews of 80 men apiece to intercept British supply ships. From humble beginnings, the Continental Navy would become the United States Navy, and swell to 6,768 vessels during WW2 to become the largest and most powerful Navy in the history of the planet. This Friday, the United States Navy, now a more trim, but no less powerful fleet of 484 ships, celebrates its 248th birthday!

There is no better time to highlight some of the Navy veteran entrepreneurs who have participated in Bunker Labs’ programming and events.

Transition Podcast Episodes

Thanks to the generous funding of the MetLife Foundation, host “Iron” Mike Steadman talks with fellow veteran entrepreneurs about the challenges of transitioning from military life to entrepreneurship. Below are some of his favorite episodes this year with Navy founders, only on Bunker Labs’ official podcast, Transition Podcast! 

Claude Burns

Founder and CEO of Office Libations
Episode 126: Recognizing Opportunity and Making the Big Pivot

In the military we have a saying that the enemy has a choice. Doesn’t matter how great you think your product or service is, or who you think it’s for—until you go to market it’s an educated guess. From there, it’s your responsibility to identify whether you’re going to stick to the plan, such as selling craft beer via a subscription service model to willing consumers, or shifting to a business-to-business model selling beer, snacks, and other CPG items to corporate offices. If that sounds too far off, it’s not, because that is exactly what happened to today’s guest Claude Burns, Founder and CEO of Office Libations, a full-service beverage and snack company that provides beverages and snacks to companies of all sizes.

Mike McKim

President and CEO of Cuvee Coffee
Episode 117: There’s Always Something Brewing, Even After 25 Years

For 25 years, Mike has operated a nationally recognized Austin-based, coffee brand known for roasting exceptional, ethically sourced, sustainable coffee. Cuvee is made up of a roastery and distribution arm, including online and wholesale, as well as a Vibrant, down-to-earth cafe & retail space serving up specialty coffees, teas & more, plus snacks.

Thereasa Black

CEO and Co-Founder of Bonappe Sweet
Episode 84: Building a Sweet Brand with Purpose

Navy Veteran Thereasa Black founded Bonappe Sweet to create sweet, tasty, craving-satisfying chocolate without an ounce of guilt. It’s all plant-based, dairy-free, date-sweetened chocolate without all the processed sugars.

Keith Kappel

Bunker Labs Content Writer
Episode 78: Best Practices for Getting Thoughts on the Page and Writing Great Content

Keith is a former Naval Intelligence Specialist and believes writing is a core skill for CEOs, and shares tips and tricks for communicating your vision to others through the written word. He’s also an entrepreneur, a runs an online writing school called Adventure Writing Academy, and a solopreneur career as a freelance writer.

Renee Bobb

Bunker Labs National Director of Training and Development
Episode 56: Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship

Renee sits down with “Iron” Mike Steadman to talk about entrepreneurship and Bunker Labs’ Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship, which has been helping veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs from traditionally underserved communities overcome obstacles to success.

Check out Breaking Barriers today!

Marlon Terrell

Owner/Operator Chick-fil-A Franchise
Episode 44: Becoming a Franchise Entrepreneur

Marlon owns and operates two Chick-fil-A franchises in New Jersey. He gives a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to buy into a franchise, the leadership challenges that come with running one, and the abundance of opportunities available to veterans and military spouses in the space.

Carla Bond

Founder and CEO of Upskill VR
Episode 42: Paving the Way in Emergency Response Training

A former US Navy police officer and medic, Carla Bond founded Upskill VR after teaching herself the basics of virtual reality development. On the podcast, she discusses founding UpSkill VR and the many pitfalls that almost tanked her business. Carla shares the process she used to transition from a small business to a start-up, and licensing her technology to train the next generation of first responders.

Bunker Labs Entrepreneurs

In addition to the great business leaders covered on the Transition Podcast, there are many more Navy veteran-led companies in the Bunker Labs ecosystem we are excited to draw attention to.

Melissa Green

Founder and CEO, Grounds4Cause
Read Her Blog Spotlight

Melissa Green has is selling coffee that financially benefits and draws attention to a number of charities working to improve the lives of either military families or the LGBTQ+ community. Follow her experience with Bunker Labs programs as she underwent a journey to refine and grow her business.

Dustin Van Ells (With Sara Van Ells)

Co-Founder, Hustle Trucks
Read Their Blog Spotlight

Hustle Trucks co-founder Dustin Van Ells is a Navy Veteran. He served from 2011 to 2015 as an Aviation Electronics Technician. Dustin founded The Van Plan/Vanpire Customs in 2018, where he customizes retro vans and Sara runs “everything that isn’t van building”. Things were going well on both their independent, entrepreneurial journeys. Then Covid-19 hit, and both their traditional clients dried up. Sensing opportunity, the Van Ells decided to combine their skills and rent out mobile retail storefronts in converted box trucks as Hustle Trucks. They’ve been growing ever since.

About The Transition Podcast 

Demystifying Entrepreneurship & Small Business Ownership 

“Iron” Mike Steadman interviews veterans and military spouses with businesses and startups from all industries and stages. Listen each week to dive deep into their stories and lessons learned. New episodes drop on Thursday. Sign up for the newsletter and never miss an episode.

About the Transition Podcast Host “Iron” Mike Steadman

“Iron” Mike Steadman the Founder and CEO of IRONBOUND Boxing, a nonprofit that provides free amateur boxing training, entrepreneur education, and employment opportunities for Newark youth & young adults. Mike and his partner Keith Colon, oversee the legendary IRONBOUND Boxing Academy, their free boxing gym for youth in Newark, NJ. He also runs IRONBOUND Media, a podcast production company that produces branded podcasts for veteran-owned businesses.

To learn more visit www.IRONBOUNDBoxing.org and www.IRONBOUNDMedia.com

Find Fellow Veteran Entrepreneurs

Join one of our programs at Bunker Labs to meet other Navy veteran entrepreneurs, and veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs of the other branches as you build community and grow together! 

Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship: Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship is a virtual workshop series that facilitates business growth and support within AAPI, Black, Latinx, and female veteran and military spouse communities. The eight-week workshop is designed to create an immediate impact for early to growth-stage businesses by providing access to business tools, resources, capital opportunities, mentorship, and a stronger peer network.

Veterans in Residence: Veterans in Residence is a professionally facilitated, 16-week business incubator that provides veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs a networking community, business skills, and opportunities to help grow their business.

CEOcircle: CEOcircle is a monthly peer accountability group for growth-stage companies looking to scale. The year-long program builds a brain-trust of peers scaling and growing their companies and as CEOs through education, connections, and mentorship.

The Ambassador Program: The Ambassador Program is a 12-month volunteer program that helps develop and connect the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ambassadors ensure there is a clear path for Bunker Labs entrepreneurs to access the local resources and networks they need to successfully launch and grow their businesses. 

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!