Google Expands Support for Veterans Looking to Compete in Fast-Paced Startups

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FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2018, file photo a man using a mobile phone walks past Google offices in New York. Google says it plans to launch a video-game streaming platform called Stadia, positioning itself to take on the traditional video-game business. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Google has expanded its support for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses looking to make their mark in the fast-paced and demanding business startup community.

Google for Startups, launched by Google in 2011 as Google for Entrepreneurs, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with two small business-focused veteran nonprofits and shoring up its existing relationship with a third.

The new effort, in which Google will provide mentors and unspecified funding, will enable Bunker Labs, Patriot Boot Camp and Veteran Capital to build on their plans "to empower transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams," Lisa Gevelber, Google for Startups vice president, said in a blog post.

Gevelber said it is Google's belief that veterans have the right stuff to compete in a startup ecosystem where the potential for failure is a constant.

"People in the military community are uniquely suited to life at a startup, thanks to their ability to solve problems with limited resources, adapt to changing conditions and lead under pressure," she said.

A Google spokeswoman declined to state how much funding would be going to Bunker Labs, which was founded by veterans who succeeded in their own businesses and formed the nonprofit to assist other veterans in pursuing their startup ambitions through mentorship, education and networking.

Navy veteran and Bunker Labs co-founder Todd Connor said the organization is currently active in more than 20 cities nationwide, and the partnership with Google for Startups will enable expansion to Atlanta, Georgia, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

He didn't want to call the partnership with Google a pilot program, but said, "If all goes well, we'll be looking to expand upon this."

Jen Pilcher, an Army military spouse and CEO of Patriot Boot Camp, said the partnership with Google for Startups will give the organization "a new opportunity to grow and expand year round."

Patriot Boot Camp currently runs periodic three-day crash courses for selected veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses in the competitive field of high-tech startups.

The next boot camp is scheduled for August in Lehi, Utah, near Salt Lake City, Pilcher said.

The boot camps currently run about three times a year for about 50 trainees in seminars with subject-matter experts who volunteer their time and travel, she added.

"We're especially excited to support Patriot Boot Camp as they inspire and equip additional military spouse and veteran founders to succeed," Gevelber said.

Veteran Capital, which began operating only last year, already had a relationship with Google for Startups, but the new partnership will enable the group to expand from the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area to Nashville, Tennessee, said Veteran Capital co-founder Tim Horan.

"We're a startup ourselves," said Horan, a West Point graduate who served as a company commander with the 101st Airborne Division and left the Army as a captain.

Veteran Capital sponsors fellowships at high-tech, high-growth startups to allow participants to gain the knowledge, expertise and relationships that could enable them to start on their own, he said.

"We're looking for candidates who are passionate and looking for the challenge of working for a startup," Horan said.

All three organizations -- Bunker Labs, Patriot Boot Camp and Veteran Capital -- said their programs come with no fees or charges to those selected to participate.

Information on the groups and how to apply can be found at Bunker Labs' website; the Patriot Boot Camp site; and the Veteran Capital site.

More information on Google for Startups and the new partnerships can be found here.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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