WeWork's Veterans in Residence Program is Coming to Boston!
Across the country, WeWork and Bunker Labs are helping veterans who want to start their own business with the Veterans in Residence program, empowering these aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s currently offered in 14 cities...and Boston is going to be the 15th.
We spoke with Josh Rosenthal, WeWork’s Director of Operations, Northeast and Katherine Kostreva, the Northeast - Regional Executive Director at Bunker Labs, to learn more about the program and what it has to offer military veterans who are taking the entrepreneurial path.
For those who are uninitiated, who is Bunker Labs and what is their connection to WeWork?
Katherine Kostreva [KK]: Bunker Labs is a national non-profit, with a network of veteran entrepreneurs dedicated to helping new veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs start their own business.
Since 2014, participating startups in the Bunker Labs ecosystem have generated $67+ million in revenue, raised $61+ million in capital, created 1781+ jobs and 584+ jobs for military veterans.
Bunker Labs first met WeWork after we successfully pitched and became a winner at the Creator Awards, which recognizes forward-thinking social enterprises making an impact locally and globally.
Josh Rosenthal [JR]: About 250,000 active duty service members leave the military every year, and many of them are reentering the workforce, adapting their skill-sets for new industries. Of that number, 25% want to start their own business, but counter-intuitively, the number of veteran entrepreneurs has declined. Nearly half of all World War II veterans owned and operated a business after they left the service, while among post-9/11 veterans, less than 5% have become entrepreneurs. WeWork and Bunker Labs teamed up to change that.
Both organizations are dedicated to our veterans and have created an environment where veterans can pursue their passion and create their life’s work.
How did the idea for the Veterans in Residence come about and what is the ultimate goal of the program?
JR: First incubated in Denver in the Summer of 2017 WeWork Veterans in Residence is an initiative in partnership with Bunker Labs aimed at equipping US military veterans and military family members starting a new venture or growing an existing business with the space, services, business mentorship and community they need to find their tribe and create their life’s work.
WeWork and Bunker Labs is currently finishing up the second national cohort, with 2019 the start of the third national cohort.
Boston is the 15th city to take part in the program? Who are the other cities?
JR: Boston will be the 15th city to have a Veterans in Residence initiative. The other 14 include New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Nashville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Austin, Houston, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
Would you be able to share some unique details regarding the Boston program?
KK: We’re looking to partner with corporations, small businesses, nonprofits, other incubators/accelerator programs, universities and organizations that are active in the Boston startup scene and veteran community. We’re just getting started, but we have some great plans in store for Boston. If anyone is interested in learning more about the Veterans in Residence initiative, they can join us for food, beer, networking, and Q&A in December at WeWork South Station.
Aside from a workspace, what else is WeWork offering the entrepreneurs?
JR: WeWork is supporting veteran and military family member entrepreneurs with fully sponsored workspace, services, business mentorship, and community. Each Veteran in Residence is welcomed into a local tribe of 10 veteran entrepreneurs who are learning, connecting, and growing their individual businesses together.
Beyond the program’s immediate cohort, each veteran entrepreneur will have access to the global community of 268,000+ creators via the WeWork digital member network, across 287+ WeWork communities in 77 cities and 23 countries around the world.
KK: They will also have access to a national network of veteran-owned businesses to connect, learn and grow from the community of current and alumni Veterans In Residence.
How can someone join the Veterans In Residence program?
KK: We’re currently accepting applications for Boston’s first Veterans in Residence cohort now. If you’re a veteran, military spouse, or military family member interested in applying, go to we.co/veterans. Applications are open until January 3, 2019. Our first Veterans in Residence cohort will be chosen and announced by February 2019 and we’ll be happy to share the names of the entrepreneurs, their military experience and their business ventures. Stay tuned!