Now going on its third year, the annual Muster Across America Tour put on by Bunker Labs will make its way to the Triangle to bring some 300 military veteran entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors together this Thursday, March 14, at MetLife’s Global Technology Campus in Research Triangle Park.
The all-day event is veteran-focused but all are welcome to come, RDU Bunker Labs City Leader Jessica Harris explained. The purpose of the event is to help catalyze and strengthen the expanding network of military veterans who are successful entrepreneurs in the innovative ecosystem they help serve. Tickets are $40, but free to active duty, National Guard, or Reserve Service members.
The Muster event is like the “Super Bowl of all of the Bunker Lab events,” Harris said. Harris is also the Founder and CEO of K9 Salute, an all-natural dog treat company, and is a retired combat medic and sergeant of Washington’s Army National Guard.
The Muster event is hosted by the Military Veterans Network at MetLife and is presented by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The event will run from 9am-5pm and will have select speakers such as Bandwidth’s CEO, Founder and Chairman David Morken, a former Marine; and Cameron Cruse, the Co-Founder and COO of Southern Pines-based R. Riveter, a handbag company owned and operated by military spouses. The closing keynote will be given by Brian Hamilton, the Co-Founder of software company Sageworks, which he sold in 2018, and a significant sponsor of entrepreneurship among veterans through his Brian Hamilton Foundation.
The event will also feature several workshops, panels and discussions. The Muster event will kick off with a networking breakfast, and then will move into several keynote speakers and discussions, including a pitch competition between five companies that are competing for a $10,000 prize — the most the event has offered, Harris said. The winning company will also win the title of the “top-performing veteran-led startup.”
Growing Event Hitting Its Stride
Last year the RDU Muster event saw over 225 attendees come to the all-day event, and this year about 300 are registered, Harris said. Over a dozen companies will have the opportunity to showcase their products and services and the event has partnered with a variety of corporate partners.
Harris said that because the event is in its third year, running the planning has been more smooth and has allowed the event to focus more on bringing and coordinating various speakers and discussions. Harris said in the past she’s gone to the event as an attendee but she’s excited this year to be behind the scenes and to help out.
“What I like about my role as a city leader is giving back and helping other up-and-coming entrepreneurs and veterans that need the assistance,” she said. “It’s been a big part of my business.”
Harris said that not only is this event great for Triangle to bring entrepreneurs together, but it also is an excellent place for entrepreneurs to network with the various organizations that will be in attendance. Many organizations love to work with veteran-owned businesses in one way or another, Harris explained.
“This event brings awareness to what veteran and military entrepreneurs are doing within their communities and it also just highlights how entrepreneurial the RTP area is,” she said. “(This area is) so big and innovative.”