It is just days away from the inaugural Bunker Builds Nashville Muster, a day packed with veteran entrepreneurs pitching their businesses, an Idea Lab and a marketplace to buy products from veteran-owned small businesses. A stop on the 12-city Bunker Builds America Tour, this Nashville event on Tuesday, June 28, has garnered support, including a $100,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase.
“Veterans are uniquely poised to be successful in the entrepreneurial world because of their training, discipline and ability to execute under pressure,” said Blake Hogan, Marine veteran and executive director of Bunker Labs Nashville. “This tour is a deliberate step in creating the next Greatest Generation, men and women who are leaving military careers to become job creators and community leaders.”
While Bunker Labs Nashville launched just four months ago, Hogan’s statement alludes to a commitment to service by these entrepreneurs that began well before Bunker Labs started. One such entrepreneur that will be part of the Muster is Mike Tacke, owner of Veterans Heavy Haul and an Army veteran of 14 years.
Tacke felt the calling to serve the country when 9/11 happened, during his senior year in high school. “As soon as I graduated, I enlisted as an infantryman and deployed with the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq from 2003-2004 and then again in 2005-2006,” recounted Tacke. In 2007, he attended Special Forces training and became a Green Beret. Upon completion of his Special Ops training, he was then deployed to Iraq again and then to Afghanistan.
To Tacke, the most important entrepreneurial skills that he acquired during his military service are his ability to plan and execute large projects. “I learned to define goals, identify key tasks, prioritize those tasks and then leverage the tools required to complete the project in a timely manner.” Also, one trait that military veterans tend to have, especially those in the Special Ops community, is a high tolerance for stress, notes Tacke. “Entrepreneurs regularly juggle several tasks simultaneously in an uncertain environment. Not everyone can succeed in that environment, but military veterans tend to thrive in it.”
Tacke found out about Bunker Labs through a business networking event at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Tacke’s new business, Veterans Heavy Haul, is a part of the inaugural accelerator program in Nashville, and aims to employ military veteran truck drivers and freight brokers to move over dimensional freight throughout the U.S. “We just opened in February of this year, and our goal is to one day earn a reputation in the heavy haul trucking industry as an outstanding provider of freight transportation services,” says Tacke.
The Bunker Labs business accelerator program has been a great resource for Tacke’s growing business. “The advisors at the EC have freely given their time to listen to challenges my business is working through and have offered great insights,” said Tacke.”Bunker Labs allows me to connect with other military veterans/ business owners. I leave the EC each week refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.”
Tacke is excited to attend the Muster on Tuesday and connect with more business owners in the Nashville community. “Through those connections, I hope to gain some insights on ways to improve my business plans and strategy.”