The Bunker Kansas City

Friday, we drove to Kansas City.  Sean McIntosh and I met a while ago.  He asked if I would come to Kansas City and speak to The Bunker.  If you don’t know what The Bunker is you should.  It is a veteran focused incubator/accelerator.  It started in Chicago.  Todd Connor runs it.  There are Bunker events around the country.  Michael Ertmer of Wisconsin runs a bunch of them.  TechStars has gotten into the act and runs a lot of programs for the military too.

Kansas City is a great town.  They are caught up in playoff hoopla too like my hometown of Chicago.  A Cubs-Royals World Series would be fun.  Who am I kidding?  Cubs vs anyone in a World Series would be fun.  I am looking forward to enjoying some Q while I am here.  On Sunday we are going to watch the Chiefs and the .  I am not hopeful for the Bears.

I will post the slide deck to SlideShare sometime next week.

I think the military offers a great primer for entrepreneurs.  Jeff Minch talks a lot about that on his blog.  Jeff does a lot of work with ex-military entrepreneurs in Texas.  He likes to say he learned how to run a company by actually running a “company” when he was a military officer.

Many military officers become really good corporate executives.  Anthony Noto CFO of Twitter is an Army vet.  There are countless examples.  But, I think that military people can be great entrepreneurs too.  General George Patton said,“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”   That’s entrepreneurship.

The National World War Two Museum in New Orleans is run like an entrepreneurial startup.  Many of my fellow trustees served in the military and credit it for giving them tools to enable them to be successful in their careers.

If you read the book, “Sixty Seconds over Tokyo” with an eye toward entrepreneurship, you will see it as more than just a narrative of how America returned the Pearl Harbor favor to Japan.  It’s textbook startup entrepreneurship.  Trial and error.  Finding product market fit.  Pivoting.  Learning on the fly.  Doing things without asking for permission.  Bootstrapping.  It’s an amazing story of sacrifice, fear, and success.

I was extremely lucky to meet the surviving Doolittle Raiders.  Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot was Bill Cole.  When asked what he did on the way over to Japan, he said he read the manual on how to jump out of a plane.  He had never done that before and wanted to make sure he got it right. Fake it till you make it right?

James Liautaud took five companies public by the time he was 55.  He told me he learned a lot about business by serving in the military.  When his son didn’t know what to do after college, he gave him a choice: join the armed forces or take $25,000 and start a business.  His son started Jimmy John’s.

Too often we see military people as damaged goods.  They aren’t.  Too often, we think that they volunteered for  the military because they didn’t have any other choice.  They generally didn’t.

I am glad that The Bunker was started. Military people are problem solvers and there are many problems to solve.  I am happy that I can help out.  Should be a fun day in KC.  Go Royals, Go Cubs.