Bunker Labs recruits veterans beyond Chicago with 12-city tour

(Kristan Lieb / Chicago Tribune)

By Cheryl V. Jackson

As a veteran, Tim Jensen knows how important it is to have a home base.

That’s why Bunker Labs is so valuable to him and his Carol Stream-based military and patriotic apparel brand, Grunt Style. “Having a place where veterans can come in and pitch business ideas and talk to venture capitalists? It’s a beautiful idea,” he said.

Jensen was one of nearly 500 attendees who connected with fellow veterans Thursday for Muster, Bunker Labs’ daylong program of speakers, exhibitors and business pitches.

About 36 people, all of whom were veterans or had a veteran spouse, took part in the pitch competition. They presented ideas ranging from a virtual reality real estate company to personalized children’s books. Chicagoan Jim Johnson won the $3,000 first prize for his high-antioxidant Asian Sun Tea.

Muster’s model of uniting entrepreneurs, military brass, financiers and government representatives has grown well beyond Chicago.

This is the second Muster event in Chicago, and this year’s event is part of a 12-city JPMorgan Chase-sponsored tour. The event is visiting new Bunker Labs chapters, as well as cities where chapters are planned to open son.

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