According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the United States. Small businesses looking to grow or get to the next level need one thing: their next source of capital.
USAA and Bunker Labs have joined forces to give veteran-owned businesses a chance to win $100,000 to invest in their business in 2022 with the "From Service to Startup" pitch competition.
The competition is part of the 100th-anniversary celebration for USAA, an insurance company that provides a variety of resources from banking to auto insurance needs. Bunker Labs will be handling the applications. In total, USAA will award almost $300,000 to the businesses that qualify.
Bunker Labs will select 36 applicants for regional pitches in Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; and Charlotte, N.C. Judges (to be determined) in each city will select the winners. Four wildcard businesses and regional winners from each city will participate in the finals in San Antonio, where USAA is headquartered.
A $10,000 prize will also be awarded to the first-place finishers at each regional event. The second-place winner receives $5,000 but does not advance to the next round in San Antonio. The grand prize will go to the first-place winner at the San Antonio finals, but second place and third place will receive $50,000 and $25,000, respectively. An additional $15,000 will be awarded to the "Crowd Favorite."
Veteran entrepreneurs and honorably discharged military members can participate in the competition. These members' widows, spouses and children are also eligible to apply, but there are a few other rules businesses can use.
An eligible veteran-owned business must already be under $5 million in capital. Second, the company has to show annual revenues that do not equal more than $1 million or proof that they've done a pilot.
They should also travel to at least one regional pitch event and comply with local masking and vaccination requirements. The applicants are responsible for travel and lodging, but those traveling to San Antonio for the finals will receive a stipend.
Finally, applicants don't have to be USAA members, but they need to be in good standing if they are. Bunker Labs says that those who aren't sure if they meet the requirements should still apply on the contest website. Any regional competitions are open to them.
Competition dates are as follows:
Los Angeles: Feb. 17, 2022
Austin: March 24, 2022
Illinois: April 21, 2022
DC: May 26, 2022
Seattle: July 21, 2022
Charlotte, N.C.: Sept. 15, 2022
San Antonio (finals): Nov. 10, 2022
All 10 entrepreneurs invited to compete in the finals in San Antonio will also be featured in USAA and Bunker Labs storytelling campaigns and will get support from both organizations.
Visit Bunker Labs' website for more info on its "From Service to Startup" pitch contest. You can also find a list of industries not eligible for the contest and answers to frequently asked questions.