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TV's 'Shark Tank' Looks for Entrepreneurial Veterans in Austin

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Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin
Bunker Labs Austin is an incubator for veteran-run startups. Above, a Bunker Labs event featured in the incubator's introductory video.

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.

The ideal candidate will be a veteran or a veteran’s spouse with a great idea for a business or product.

But, even those who aren't ultimately picked for the spot on the ABC series will have other options for getting their ideas off the ground.

Johnathan Wojtewicz works with Bunker Labs Austin,  and he's also a veteran. This past December he and a group of other veterans created the incubator — a sort of coaching program — for veterans with entrepreneurial vision.

Wojtewicz says that in his grandfather's generation, "post-World War II," many veterans were entrepreneurs.

"[About] 49 percent of those returning veterans operated their own companies," he says.

Today, not so much. By some estimates, only 6 to 8 percent of veterans are entrepreneurs — perhaps because they don't know how to navigate the process. Bunker Labs Austin wants to help.

The group is hosting the pitching session for Shark Tank at the Capitol Factory Tuesday, July 21, at 701 Brazos St. For more information, email Leadership@TheBunkerAustin.org or RSVP to BunkerLivePitch.com.

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