By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
About two dozen people, mostly veterans, showed-up late Thursday afternoon at Maple Hall on Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville for good fellowship and good beer.
The occasion was the official launch of the Knoxville Chapter of Bunker Labs Nashville, the state affiliate of the national organization focused on helping military veterans and their spouses launch new companies.
“There are 1.5 million veterans that will leave service in the next few years, and one-fourth will want to start a business,” Blake Hogan, Executive Director and Founder of the Nashville affiliate, said. There are 15 Bunker Labs groups around the country.
Organizing a Knoxville group is part of an effort underwritten by Launch Tennessee to help establish chapters here as well as in Chattanooga, Clarksville and Memphis. Organizers of the Knoxville initiative are Derren Burrell, Chief Operating Officer of TAG Resources LLC; Jordon Kestner, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of Stealth Performance Communication Inc.; and Jessica Locklear, Clinical Director for Banded Recovery.
As Hogan described the work of Bunker Labs in this teknovation.biz article, a key activity is something called “Bunker Brews.” They combine fellowship, networking, a brief entrepreneurial success story, and beer (i.e., brews) in a two-hour event.
“We’ll be doing six to eight of these throughout the year,” Kestner said.
On Thursday night, the Founder of the company where Burrell works spoke on his entrepreneurial journey.
“We started with me and a whiteboard in a basement,” Troy Tisue, President of TAG Resources, explained. Today, the company that helps create retirement plan solutions has about 50 employees.
He cited a key strength that military veterans possess that will serve them well as entrepreneurs. Wonder what it is? Tisue said it was discipline.
“Discipline is a very big thing,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Tisue also reminded attendees of another important characteristic that veterans possess.
“When you have a passion for what you do and how you can help others, everything suddenly clicks,” he said.
Separately, an article in Saturday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press says that the Chattanooga Chapter will hold its inaugural meeting at 5:30 p.m. today (February 26) at OddStory Brewing Co. on M.L. King Boulevard. Chattanooga Attorney Dan Gilmore is leading the organizational efforts there.