Bunker Labs Veterans-in-Residence program helps veteran-owned startups

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Army veteran Andy Goehring graduated from West Point, toured Iraq, received his MBA from Ohio State University and landed a managerial position at a major bank.

And now his latest passion is selling “rigged” short shorts.

Last year, he and his wife, Abby, launched Ruck Runners, an e-commerce brand that offers custom shorts with stretch vinyl patches, badges, tabs or decals for a niche male clientele. and current and former military women.

“It’s fun,” said Goehring, 38, of Delaware. “It’s silly. It’s a little irrational.

Ruck Runners is one of many startups participating in Veterans in Residence, an incubator for veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses across the United States.

What is the Veterans-in-Residence business incubator?

Launched by Chicago-based organization Bunker Labs, the program takes cohorts of eight to ten participants through six-month development cycles. A partnership with the commercial real estate company WeWork allows business leaders to benefit from a co-working space.

To date, more than 1,442 veterans and military spouses have participated in the program, according to Bunker Labs. The organization also reports that 89% of veteran-owned businesses saw their growth accelerate, 44% increased their current income, and 23% raised funds during the six-month cycle.

“WeWork is committed to harnessing the power of community to positively impact people and the planet,” said Chris Ferzli, Global Head of Public Affairs at WeWork. “We look forward to seeing these seasoned entrepreneurs continue to thrive and make an impact in their own communities. “

Based in WeWork’s office in Short North, the Columbus Section of Resident Veterans will graduate from its first full cohort on December 8.

In addition to Ruck Runners, attendees include Inergy Advisors, a business strategy and CFO firm; Eco Diplomat, a skin care company; BizCommanders, a support company for coaches and advisers; Verity Cyber, a cybersecurity company; JW Pet Products; and OnTheWay, a mobile application.

“The success rate for businesses, especially small businesses, can be quite daunting,” said Jasmin Hurley, 38, of Washington Court House, who is Bunker Labs’ Columbus Community Ambassador. “I hope they will continue on this path, even if they have to change their business model, and that they will have the confidence to know they can do it. And they can come back for support.

Ruck Runners: The “Ranger Briefs” Veterans Wanted

As “silly” as it sounds, Ruck Runners has proven to be an inventive business model. The particular style of short shorts, aka “ranger panties” for the men and women of the US Army, or “silky” for the US Marines, is already in great demand. But the Goehring’s unique level of personalization allows customers to preserve their meaningful military experiences in a fun way.

“It’s amazing,” said Andy Goehring. “For us, it’s serving those who have already served.”

And the display of the badge allows veterans to engage in conversations with each other in the world.

“It’s almost like some kind of language,” Goehring said. “I bonded with people I wouldn’t have known otherwise by wearing silly shorts.”

Ruck Runners also has clients who wish to use the designs to honor their loved ones.

“They want to connect with the units of their WWII grandfathers,” Goehring said. “With our decal application, there is no limit to creativity. “

The Goherings produce several individual and wholesale orders per week. After purchasing the shorts from a third party, Abby Goehring, 36, takes care of the tailoring and design, while Andy Goehring engages with customers.

Their 11-year-old daughter, a “mini-co-founder and creative assistant,” also helps.

Currently, the company’s turnover is less than $ 25,000. But the couple give the veterans in residence credit for positioning them for success. They got help with brands, marketing, accounting, software, regulations, and taxes.

Goehring also said peer support from other seasoned entrepreneurs was a game-changer.

“They help us solve problems,” he said. “We can give them ideas to solve problems. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to develop, grow and evolve at the rate that I think this network has allowed us to do.

Inergy Advisors owner Torika Thompson also praised the Veterans-in-Residence ecosystem.

“I have met invaluable people whom I hope to know forever, and who have been essential in helping us push the needle to business,” said Thompson, 38, who has residences in Short North and Akron. “From an entrepreneur’s point of view, we need this hub that acts as an incubator to help us get started and to give us the practical advice that many of us absolutely need. And many of us don’t know we need it.

Thompson, who owns several other companies, said the program also helped her acquire a software development team.

Aside from technical assistance, programs like Veterans in Residence can also help participants develop personally as they transition out of the military.

“It’s an overall transition of, ‘OK, here’s who I was in the uniform, but who am I outside of the uniform? Said Hurley, who is also an Army veteran. “What does my service look like? What is my life like? ‘ “

Hurley said many veterans gravitate towards entrepreneurship because their training has taught them to be great problem solvers.

“It’s great to thank us for our service and we appreciate it,” she added. “But there are ways to put this into practice every day. Hire veterans, help them get into the workforce so they know what they’re going to do. We will always be an advantage.

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