When NBC’s Olivia Sterns previewed a time-saving laundry service on Today, viewers actually saw a clever partnership between a trusted, national brand and a veteran-founded startup.
Daniel Tobon joined the military right out of high school, then capped off his post-deployment education with degrees in political science and law. Yet, the time he spent working with his father—the operations manager for one of the largest coin operated laundry chains in the Midwest—inspired his most successful business to date.
During his college summers, Tobon helped collect tokens and quarters from coin-operated machines. That's when he says he realized there was a lot of money in laundry. Over a decade later, Tobon turned that knowledge into the rapidly growing company that Proctor & Gamble tapped to power its Tide Spin on-demand laundry service.
He first developed that company, Starchup, at Bunker Labs' flagship location in Chicago's Merchandise Mart. Starchup develops software and automation tools for businesses that want to streamline laundry pickup and delivery services in cities across the country.
David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation and Daniel Tobon at The Bunker event.
With entrepreneurial support and technology services from Comcast, Tobon and his team have successfully moved his operations to the new Bunker Labs PHL accelerator at Benjamin's Desk Washington Square. As at all the Bunker Labs locations, participant companies gain access to tools, training, and technology designed to help veterans transition successfully from military service to the business world.
Tobon credits his military experience with giving him both perspective and resilience. "There's a lot to be said for being able to work with a small group of people in a hyperbolic environment where there's a lot of stress," Tobon says. "There's a lot of pressure. There's a lot on the line. In the military it's your life or safety, but in entrepreneurship it's your career. Your well-being. Your life savings, in some circumstances. It's your time. It takes a certain adaptive person to work very well in both of those environments."
Veteran-led startup companies based in Philadelphia and in other parts of the country are encouraged to apply at BunkerLabs.org.