Military Veterans Turned Entrepreneurs Have Space of Their Own in Philly

Introducing The Bunker.

Dan Tobon, a veteran entrepreneur at the grand opening of The Bunker. (Comcast Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

Dan Tobon, a veteran entrepreneur at the grand opening of The Bunker. (Comcast Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

Dan Tobon sees plenty of similarities between his time in the Army and his new life as an entrepreneur. The founder of Starchup – basically a GrubHub for laundry and dry-cleaning — Tobon said both groups attract risk takers who think on their feet, solve abstract problems and have a unique ability to stay calm in stressful situations.

“Being an entrepreneur and being a veteran are very similar,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s very cool, but would not do it themselves.”

Tobon is just one of the veteran entrepreneurs who will run his business from The Bunker, a new co-working space housed at Benjamin’s Desk‘s expansive location at the Curtis Center in Old City. It will provide working space, mentors, access to investors, pro-bono services and community events for veteran-led startup companies.

Founded in Chicago, The Bunker has expanded to seven cities, including Austin, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Tobon said The Bunker aims to provide free rent and won’t take a percentage of an entrepreneur’s company.

It’ll house six startups at the outset:

Houwzer –  a residential real estate brokerage company created by Mike Maher (a Navy vet and co-founder of Benjamin’s Desk).

Starchup – a software and mobile application for dry-cleaning created by Dan Tobon (Army).

CauseEngine – a marketplace that matches non-profits and freelancers created by James Brobyn (Marine Corps).

VetsForward – a search platform for finding veteran-owned businesses created by Dave Foster (Army).

Serve1 – a platform to create first-degree resources for veterans created by Chris Diaz (Navy).

GoPaperboy – a hyper-local marketplace to help students build the job they want and help families find the help they need created by Jen Gallagher (military spouse and former attorney).

Comcast serves as the first national corporate sponsor of The Bunker and is a founding sponsor of the Old City location. At a launch event Monday morning, Comcast Senior Vice President David L. Cohen said veterans are some of the “best and brightest entrepreneurs.” (Comcast recently pledged to hire 10,000 vets over the next three years.)

“Comcast was a startup 50 years ago, and today we are proud to help develop the next-generation of startups to build great products, grow a diverse workforce, and continue to see existing and new businesses bloom,” said Cohen.