Bunker Labs DC

From our Friends over at Bunker Labs DC

My initial Why Bunker Labs DC post presented a 30,000-foot overview and a nod to the incredible team who’ve signed on to carry out this mission.

But many of you are asking – what do I actually do as a part of Bunker Labs DC?  What’s the value of Bunker Labs DC to my startup? My response:  


  • This is where you overcome the many hidden hurdles,
  • known pitfalls, and most dangerously,
  • the confirmation bias that we all have as entrepreneurs


The following outlines our 21-week program, but I encourage you to come by and learn more directly from our staff. The bottom line is, we challenge you to explore the current reality, envision alternatives, and make your startups work in the market. Here’s how we get it done: 

Braintrust & Darden Sessions

In these sessions, we ask critical questions that you explore through facilitated discussions & exercises utilizing Running LeanDesigning for Growth, and the Darden School of Business case method. You will move through the crucial topics, such as:

  • Am I addressing a problem worth solving? What do I do if not?
  • How should I structure my business? Why does that matter?
  • How do I connect my product to stakeholders through storytelling?
  • How do I gain and leverage early adopters?
  • Do I need to raise funding? And if yes, when and from whom?
  • How will I need to iterate my product and prices to fit the market?

“Mentor Madness” Sessions

One of the pillars of Bunker Lab is mentorship. Bunker Labs Founder and CEO Todd Connor has identified key mentor traits as:  experience, willingness to listen and share, ability to provide constructive criticism and let you make mistakes, and most importantly, readiness to offer advice and resources with the goal of helping you succeed. Our hallmark mentorship days resemble ‘speed-dating;’ where you will participate in successive sessions, shuffling among mentors with maniacal focus. We offer “Mentor Madness” twice during our cohort. I’d like to say this was my genius idea, but as a loyal Patriot Boot Camp(er) who has enjoyed these equal-parts stimulating and exhausting days, I have to admit it’s all theirs. Taylor McLemore and his team have truly mastered managing chaos – in illustration and impact!

What makes “Mentor Madness” especially powerful is that many of the industry experts and startup gurus who join us for the day will also play a vital role throughout the program. And who would be if we didn’t adopt the undisputed writings of CEO of Techstars, David Cohen’s published piece on mentor behavior – Mentor Manifesto?  

“March Madness” Pitch Competition 

Mastering a Pitch is no small feat. It’s one of the most critical elements for startups who have the daunting task of wowing would-be investors. Beyond your typical pitch deck-and-delivery coaching, we focus on the true art of storytelling – crucial to your ability to attract the right customers, employees, etc. Bunker Labs DC designed a three-round bracket competition, where you will be judged based on your ability to:

  • ignite the audience
  • with your unique solution(s) to
  • a problem worth solving.

As successful participants advance, the time they have to deliver increases and the stakes get higher. Prizes (read: money) are a perk, but the true value lies in the honest feedback from our panel of judges – with our teammates from Paladin, Hivers & Strivers, StreetShares, and more. In the crowd, numerous potential investors will look on …     

Lunch & Learn Roundtable 

Connections are a cornerstone to success. Throughout our five-month program, you will meet other founders and subject-matter experts, often over cold beer and pizza, and hear stories of their scar tissue. Having access to this network can make all the difference. Two of the most important discussions we have are 1) demystifying access to capital (e.g. bootstrapping, debt, angel, etc.) and

2) managing the chaos of growth in business maturity (e.g. HR, budget and accounting, legal, IT systems, etc.)

Blunt conversations are best
Blunt conversations deliver a dose of reality for those who have misfired with the romanticized notion of launching a startup. 

For those on target, these opportunities bolster your confidence and foster a you’re-not- in-it alone atmosphere. If all else fails, you can always take your frustrations out on me at the landmine ping pong table.    

I challenge you: do you know all of the s%$t that will kill your startup?  Do you want to know all the s%$t to help you crush it?


The Dude