The Bunker Austin, a program geared to help veterans become entrepreneurs, has launched at the University of Texas at Austin.
Joseph Kopser, founder and CEO of RideScout, and Craig Cummings, co-founder, donated $70,000 to provide a Student Veteran Entrepreneurship Endowment. The seed fund is earmarked for students with veteran status at the University of Texas at Austin. The first award will be the James D. Pippin Veteran Entrepreneurship Award, a prize in the Texas Venture Lab Investment Competition. Pippin is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with the U.S. Army. Kopser and Pippin served together. The Pippin Award will be given to the most promising startup in TVL with one or more veteran co-founders.
The Bunker Austin is going to be a one-stop place for veterans to plug into all the resources available in Austin, Kopser said. To be a success entrepreneur, veterans need time, talent and treasure, he said. The Bunker Austin seeks to provide access to those things for veteran entrepreneurs.
Kopser and Cummings, both U.S. Army Veterans and graduates of the West Point Class of 1993, founded RideScout in 2011 and recently sold the company to Daimler’s car2Go subsidiary for an undisclosed price. RideScout makes a mobile phone app that let consumers search and compare aggregated ground transportation options to find the best one. It’s available in 69 cities in the U.S.
The company participated in the Jon Brumley Texas Ventures Lab program at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Bunker Austin is an offshoot of The Bunker in Chicago, which launched last month and announced plans to expand its veteran-focused accelerator to seven cities nationwide including Austin. The other cities are Los Angeles, Tacoma, Colorado Springs, Kansas City, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
At the Bunker Austin, the veteran-led startups will have access to mentorship, a network of veteran entrepreneurs and help to find venture capital. The program is accepting application for its first cohort through January 10th. The first cohort will begin on Jan. 21st and last six months.
The Bunker Austin will be housed at the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin.
“We’ve been really lucky that every company that has come through our program and has had a liquidity event has given back,” said Rob Adams, CEO of the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas at Austin. The program does not require them to do so, he said. He thanked the founders of RideScout for sharing their success with the endowment.