The Road to San Antonio drives through Seattle on July 21, 2022, where we’ll hold the fifth of six regional pitch competitions. There, eight companies will compete for $15,000 in regional prize money. Seattle’s winner reserves a spot on stage in San Antonio to compete for the grand prize of $100,000 dollars, continuing USAA’s 100th Anniversary Pitch Competition. 

Update: Seattle Winners Announced!

Kris Sandor and Readyly won the $10,000 first prize in Seattle for their SaaS AI-powered customer support solution. Bill Bruner and New Frontier Aerospace’s hypersonic international green air carrier was the runner up and scored $5,000 in prize money. While Readyly is headed to the Finals in San Antonio, Tx this November, the other competitors still can earn a wild card spot! 

The event also featured Zenledger COO Greg Adams and Neff Hudson, Vice President of Corporate Development for USAA, who joined us for our fireside chat. Zenledger helps crypto investors file their taxes with software that connects to over 500 different cryptocurrency and NFT exchanges to make filing easy. Together, they discussed Greg’s journey from Army Special Forces and Afghanistan to Harvard Business School, and how both equipped him to surround himself “builders” to launch, run, and sell his entrepreneurial ventures. There was also some discussion on the recent fall of the Afghani government, and how Greg Adams helped an interpreter his unit used during his time in country flee retaliation for assisting, alongside many others. 

Watch the Seattle recap video here

Want to Be on Stage Next? 

It’s your last chance to fill out an Application for the final Regional Pitch Competition in Charlotte! Applications close August 1st! Apply today to take your shot at $100,000 in funding!  

Need Help Honing Your Pitch? 

Pitching under ideal circumstances is difficult, but pitching for a competition is even more intense. Take another look at your pitch with Bunker Labs How-To Pitch Your Business blog series! 

The Competitors

Judges will hear business pitches from eight US military Veterans or eligible family members. Each competitor has just five minutes to make their pitch, followed by a five-minute Q&A with the judges.  

Kris Sandor, Navy CEO, Readyly 

Readyly is an “all in one” customer support solution for small and mid-sized companies that combines Enterprise-grade SaaS and AI-powered outsourced agents in an affordable, no-code platform. Fast-growth companies should never have to sacrifice great customer service because of high customer acquisition. They need to be able to deliver great customer service no matter how fast they grow, how big they get. And they should be able to do so affordably. 

Bill Bruner, Air Force CEO, New Frontier Aerospace 

New Frontier Aerospace, Inc. was founded in 2020 with the vision of shortening painfully long international flights, ending the era of sprawling airport runways, and eliminating the billion tonnes of greenhouse gases airliners dump into the atmosphere every year with a hypersonic, renewably fueled, vertical landing aircraft that can deliver passengers and urgent cargo anywhere on the planet 10x faster than today’s jets—with net zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

Monica Fullerton, Air Force Spouse Founder & CEO, Spouse-ly 

After marrying her high school sweetheart turned Air Force hubby, Monica Fullerton quickly learned that the military community was ripe with creators, makers, and entrepreneurs. Many of her fellow spouses were pursuing their passions in between deployments and even as full-time businesses, but there wasn’t a central location to shop and support these deserving entrepreneurs within the military community—so Monica launched Spouse-ly, whose mission is to support and champion military families seeking income-generating opportunities no matter where the military life takes them. 

Jaden Risner, Navy Co-Founder & CEO, Family Proud 

Family Proud is a platform designed for care that provides families safe and secure support while providing smart care recommendations based on who they are and what they are going through. We help answer the question, “How can I help?”. Founded by two Veterans, our team has walked in the shoes of caregivers, survivors, and supporters and we know that there is a better way. 

Aron Boettcher, Navy Co-Founder & Head of Data Science, Madronus Wildfire Defense 

Madronus offers a turnkey solution to quantify and mitigate wildfire risk. We provide insurers the data they need to evaluate risk and monitor customer compliance, and our marketplace reduces unpaid time contractors spend quoting jobs by 75%. Insurers and consumers get lower risk and better outcomes for less time and money. 

Lindsay Helm, Army Founder & CEO, Empower Employ 

We are in the business of sourcing, evaluating, and linking the strongest candidates within the military community to employers with remote opportunities through our simple to use HR software designed for hiring managers and motivated job seekers who want to directly connect without depending on artificial intelligence and military skills translation. Learn more about Empower Employ today.

Jeff Zika, Navy CEO of AirGO.AI

Did you know that less than 6% of the vehicle on the roads today have any of the advanced safety systems that could protect our families when they drive? AirGO.Ai. with the Soteria Vision suite of standalone, smart, connect, and easy to install devices enables these same life-saving safety and connected vehicle systems in the other 94%.

Caleb Page, Coast Guard CEO, helps office managers in professional service firms save money and reduce risk with real estate research by providing accurate, instant, and in-depth property insights. One otherwise might have to crawl through the 3,200+ county websites or buy an expensive enterprise subscription with a lot of unnecessary features. sits in the middle of this huge gap with the functionality needed at an affordable price point.  

The Judges

Our judges have the unenviable task of listening to eight pitches and selecting a winner to take home $10,000 and a spot in the finals, as well as a runner-up, who takes home $5,000.  

Sherman Williams,  Co-Founder & Managing Partner, AIN Venture 

Sherman Williams is a co-founder and Managing Partner of AIN Ventures. Sherman has an extensive history investing in dual-use technology subsegments, such as space technology and healthcare technology. Sherman has been the VC-in-Residence to several Techstars programs. Sherman is also a Kauffman Fellow (’26). Prior to becoming an early-stage investor, Sherman gathered six years of financial transaction experience as a Healthcare Technology M&A Investment Banker. Sherman started his career as a Naval Intelligence Officer.  Sherman holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy. 

Brandon Carter, Chairman and President, USAA Life Insurance Company 

As Chairman and President of USAA Life Companies and a member of USAA Executive Council, Brandon oversees the strategy and operations for product management, actuary, distribution, underwriting, servicing, and claims. He is leading the strategy to digitally transform the health, life, and annuity business for USAA and is focused on preserving USAA’s legendary service and commitment to its 13 million members while maintaining employee well-being and financial strength. The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to current and former members of the U.S. military and their families.   Prior to his role as Chairman and President of USAA Life Insurance Company, he served as General Manager of the Phoenix Campus with site management of the expanding facility and its more than 3,000 employees, external community relations, and provided support for USDA’s military affairs and government relations for the State of Arizona. His additional responsibilities were serving as Vice President of Experience Management, leading the transformational journey to a relationship sales culture, marketing campaigns, and design capabilities that deliver world-class member experiences.   Brandon joined USAA in 1997. During his 24-year USAA career, he has excelled in multiple executive leadership positions focused on sales, marketing, service, operational efficiency, and transformation. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and is a Certified Financial Planner.   Brandon is Past Board Chair of LL Global, the parent company of LIMRA and LOMA, and a Board Member of the American Council of Life Insurers. Additionally, he serves as an active Board Member for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which is a non-profit organization providing comfort, care, and resources to families grieving the death of a military loved one. Brandon and his wife, Sherri, are blessed with 3 incredible children and reside in San Antonio, Texas. 

Tim Hsia,  Founder and Managing Partner, Context Ventures 

Tim Hsia is a distinguished honor graduate of West Point and was commissioned as an infantry officer in the US Army where he deployed twice to Iraq. Tim transitioned from active duty in 2010 and graduated from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School in 2014.   Tim is the CEO & Founder of Media Mobilize (an online ad network, marketing agency, and media company). He started the company in 2016 and bootstrapped the company. The team has 30 team members and hires Veterans and military spouses.   Tim is the founder and Managing Partner of Context Ventures, a venture fund that invests in consumer startups and also military Veteran founders. Tim’s startup investments include Workflow (acquired by Apple), Morning Brew (acquired by Business Insider), The Hustle (acquired by HubSpot), Vicarious Surgical (SPAC), and Proterra (SPAC).   Tim is a board member at Service to School (co-founder) and the Marine’s Memorial Association (Marine Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco). 

Want to Pitch Your Business? 

Remember, applications are open for the Charlotte Regional Pitch Competition until August 1st! Apply today to take your shot at the road to San Antonio and $100,000 in funding!