Making A Difference

In 1922, a group of Army officers unable to obtain auto insurance came together to form the company that is now USAA. To celebrate their 100-year anniversary, USAA is looking for the next generation of entrepreneurs who can carry their founders’ spirit of service-minded innovation forward into the next century. Bunker Labs and USAA are teaming up to award cash prizes and support new, innovative ideas from the military community to help propel their businesses to the next level.

Up to 36 startups will compete in regional pitch contests of 5-10 businesses held throughout 2022, culminating in a finals event in San Antonio in November. The first-place winner from each regional event will be invited to pitch at the finals alongside four wildcard invitations selected from regional pitch competition events!

Making A Difference

In 1922, a group of soldiers founded USAA by joining together and insuring each other’s vehicles when no one else would. After 100 years, their founders’ innovative spirit continues to be a driving force. This is why USAA is celebrating its 100th anniversary by looking for the next generation of entrepreneurs who can carry the spirit of service-minded innovation into the next century. To help, Bunker Labs and USAA are teaming up to award cash prizes and support new ideas from the military community.

Up to 36 startups will compete in regional pitch contests of five to six businesses held in 2022, culminating in a finals event in San Antonio in November. The winner from each regional event will be invited to pitch at the finals alongside four wildcard invitations selected from the regionals.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY

Open to U.S. military members who are active, retired, or separated with a discharge type of “honorable,” and their eligible family members, including spouses, widows and widowers, as well as children of active, retired or separated Veterans.
Raised less than $5 Million in capital.
Can demonstrate traction with some annual revenue (less than $1million in revenue) or an executed pilot.
Open to all industries except those listed below* with preference given to those technology-enabled companies that could hypothetically work with USAA to serve its members (e.g – financial technology, insurances, cybersecurity etc.).
You must be available to present, in person, for at least one regional event and in compliance with local and venue vaccination/masking requirements. You may indicate which location best suits you. USAA will not pay for transportation or lodging to regional events, but will provide a travel stipend for those competing in the San Antonio finals.
USAA member in good standing (if USAA member). USAA/Bunker Labs employees and family members are not eligible to apply.

 

Follow the Finalists

Applications for this year’s competition are closed! However, you can still follow the finalists on their Road to San Antonio, and stay informed about future pitch competitions via the Bunker Labs & USAA social media channels.

We will announce wild card competitors this October, and host our final pitch competition in San Antonio November 10th, where one competitor will take home a grand prize of $100,000 in funding!

USAA Pitch Competition Chicago Event

Pitch Competition Schedule & Recaps

March 24, 2022

Austin, TX

April 21, 2022

Los Angeles, CA

May 26, 2022

Washington D.C.

June 16, 2022

Chicago, IL

July 21, 2022

Seattle, WA

September 15, 2022

Charlotte, NC

November 10, 2022

FINALS event in
San Antonio

 

 

Regional Pitch Events

Five to six applicants per regional location will be selected as participants to pitch at each regional event, and are responsible for their own travel accommodations. Bunker Labs provides each participant two hours of coaching and preparation prior to their regional pitch A panel of judges will award two pitches with cash prizes (detailed below) and the first-place winner is also invited to pitch in San Antonio at the November 2022 finals.

 

  • First: $10,000
  • Second: $5,000

Regional Pitch Events

Five to six applicants per regional location will be selected as participants to pitch at each regional event, and are responsible for their own travel accommodations. Bunker Labs provides each participant two hours of coaching and preparation prior to their regional pitch A panel of judges will award two pitches with cash prizes (detailed below) and the first-place winner is also invited to pitch in San Antonio at the November 2022 finals.

 

  • First $10,000
  • Second $5,000

Final Pitch Event

Ten Entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch at the finals, with a chance to win one of the cash prizes below. Further, all ten participants will feature in USAA and Bunker Labs storytelling campaigns and receive invitations to Bunker Labs and/or USAA programs to further support their entrepreneurial journey such as Veterans in Residence or a CEOcircle.

  • First: $100,000
  • Second: $50,000
  • Third: $25,000
  • Crowd Favorite: $15,000

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Have additional questions? Contact: haley.chapman@bunkerlabs.org

Why are USAA and Bunker Labs hosting this pitch competition?
USAA was founded in 1922 by a group of Army officers who were not able to be insured because they were deemed to be high risk. They founded USAA to help take care of one another’s families and that spirit of innovation and focus on the military community remains today.

In celebration of USAA’s 100th anniversary in June 2022, they have joined with Bunker Labs to host a six-city pitch competition to help identify, support and celebrate up-and-coming veteran and military-related small businesses.

When do pitch competition applications open?
Throughout 2022, there will be six regional pitch competitions. Each competition will have its own application that will open 60 days prior to the event and stay open for two weeks for submissions.
When and where will the pitch competitions take place?
There will be six regional pitch competitions in 2022 that will take place in cities across the country, to include Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, and Charlotte.  There is also a finals event taking place in San Antonio in November 2022 for the winners of the regional events.

Access to the events will be by invitation only.

What happens after I submit my application or interest form?
Once your application is submitted, you will receive an automated response to confirm your application was received. Judges will review the application and notify you if you were selected or not within 2-3 weeks of the application close date for that city.

Once you submit an interest form, you will receive an automated response to confirm your interest form was received. When the application for the city(ies) you indicated interest in open, our team will send you 2-3 reminders to submit your application.

Who’s eligible to apply?
See the eligibility requirements above
How will applicants be evaluated?
We are looking for unique businesses that are poised to grow and scale, in markets where there are opportunities to do so, and with teams in place that will allow them to do it. Preference will be given to those companies that complement USAA products and services. Applications will be reviewed and scored by members from USAA and Bunker Labs evaluating disruptive potential, market size, team, traction, and growth or impact potential.
Can I apply to multiple pitch competitions?
Yes. If you were not selected as a participant in the initial location you apply, you may apply to another one. If you were accepted into one already, then we’d like to give others a chance.
The applications to the pitch competition closest to me isn’t open yet, but I don’t want to forget to apply. Is there a way to receive an alert when the applications open?
Yes! Fill out the interest form and we will notify you when the applications open for the location(s) you’re interested in.
It doesn’t look like there is a pitch competition in my city. Will you cover my expenses to attend if I’m accepted?
No. You will be responsible for travel and expenses to attend, if selected. Applicants who win their regional event and are selected to pitch at the final event in San Antonio will receive a travel stipend of $1,500. 
How long will the pitch competition last?
Each competitor will have 5 minutes to pitch with 5 minutes for Q & A from judges.
Do you have any resources available to help me prepare?
Yes. Applicants who are selected to participate will be provided the opportunity to meet with a professional speech/presentation coach for up to two hours.
How much are the prize winnings?
There will be a first prize of $10,000 and second prize of $5,000 in each regional pitch event. The finalists will receive $100,000 for first place, $50,000 for second place, $25,000 for third place and an additional $15,000 for crowd favorite.
Why do you require the demographic information on the application form?
We are always seeking to learn more about the communities we serve in an effort to continuously improve how we serve them. We want to ensure the demographics we serve are as diverse as the military communities we come from. If you are not comfortable sharing this information, you can simply select “prefer not to answer.”
What are policies related to Covid-19 for in person events?
Each event will be conducted in compliance with local (and venue) Covid-19 safety protocols or requirements. Attendees and participants will be notified of those specific requirements prior to each event.
Do I have to be a USAA member to apply?
No. Participants do not have to be USAA members or have USAA products to apply.
Will selection to participate approve me for USAA loans, insurance or other products?
Being selected to participate does not qualify you for USAA membership, insurance, or other programs
*Companies not eligible include those that primarily engage in animal testing, payday lending, human rights violations, weapons (firearms and direct combat devices), gambling, pornography or other sexually explicit or exploitative business, for-profit prisons, coal, oil, natural gas, GMO, abortions, contraceptives, embryonic stem cell/human cloning, nuclear or the production or sale of alcohol or tobacco, those that manufacture, sell or promote goods/services not legal in the US. 

*USAA employees, third party contractors and their families and Bunker Labs NFP employees and their families are not eligible to participate.