Wanted: The World’s Most Unreasonable Entrepreneurs
Boulder, Colorado – On September 23, the Unreasonable Institute begins its annual search for startup ventures tackling the world’s greatest social and environmental challenges. Each year, the Institute unites two-dozen entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for five weeks in Boulder, Colorado. There, they receive training from 50 mentors and form relationships with hundreds of potential investors.
This year, the Unreasonable Institute is multiplying its efforts. In addition to the founding program in the United States, Unreasonable Institute is piloting mentorship and training programs in both East Africa and Mexico.
“Our flagship program in Boulder is going strong, but it has its limits,” says Teju Ravilochan, CEO of the Unreasonable Institute. “We want to support entrepreneurs all over the world in their own languages and in their own contexts. To do that, we need to have programs that are rooted near the markets where our ventures work.”
Unreasonable Global is the founding program, based in Colorado, and is open to ventures from anywhere in the world. Unreasonable East Africa is based in Kampala, Uganda, and is open to ventures in Kenya and Uganda.
Unreasonable Mexico is based in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and is open to ventures in Mexico.
Each of the three programs will carefully and rigorously select 10-20 startup ventures for a five-week acceleration course in the summer of 2014.
Why Entrepreneurs Should Care
In each of the 3 locations, Unreasonable Institute entrepreneurs live together under one roof for five weeks, where they have the chance to:
- Learn from and live with 50 mentors, ranging from a founder of 3 companies with billion-dollar exits; to the director of strategy at BRAC, which has brought 100 million people out of poverty; to the former User Experience Lead at Google X, which created Google Glass and the self-driving car.
- Live with portfolio managers from at least 40 major impact investment funds like Khosla Ventures, Calvert Fund, and Acumen Fund and build relationships with over 250 prospective angel investors.
- Get deeply customized support: mentors, investors, and training workshops are carefully curated based on each startup’s needs.
- Join a global network of 100+ early-stage entrepreneurs from 37 countries, 100+ mentors, and the Unreasonable Institute’s 180 partner organizations, including HP, Teach For America, and TED Fellows.
What Entrepreneurs Say: Eneza Education
“The 2013 Unreasonable Institute was the best thing my co-founder and I could have done for Eneza,” says Toni Maraviglia of Eneza Education. “We’re now able to get 6 months of work done in one month due to all the amazing coaching, mentoring, workshops, and support we got from Unreasonable staff during the Institute and after. Most importantly, we joined a community of globe-changing fellows that we can learn from and support in making a huge impact.”
Toni is the CEO of Eneza Education, which uses simple mobile technology to make educational tools for remote students and schools in Kenya. 66% of eighth-grade school children in Kenya fail the high stakes test to get into secondary school. Meanwhile, 90% of families have a cell phone, making it a nearly ubiquitous technology and learning tool. Eneza created an SMS-based learning system to help students improve their scores.
Before the 2013 Unreasonable Institute, Eneza Education needed three things: an expanded funding network, a plan to grow their team, and better management skills for their technical development.
After the Institute, Eneza Education had investors committed to funding them now and in a future round of fundraising, a dedicated team of mentors, a refined business model, and a plan to make strategic hires in the next few months. This year, Eneza’s user base has grown dramatically — from 4,500 when they applied to the Institute to 75,000 users as of September. “My vision in terms of technology has doubled after my time at the Institute and with Boulder-based tech companies,” says Kago Kagichiri, Chief Technology Officer of the company.
Eneza Education is one of 82 companies that have attended the Unreasonable Institute in the past four years. In total, these 82 companies have raised more than $30 million in funding, and 74% of them have secured funding within 6 months of attending the Unreasonable Institute.
“We wake up every day with one purpose: to help companies like Eneza to improve millions of lives by getting them the funds, connections, resources, and training to scale up,” says Unreasonable Institute COO, Tyler Hartung.
To learn more about the Unreasonable Institute as well as to submit an application, visit www.unreasonableinstitute.org. The application deadline is November 7, 2013 for Unreasonable Global and Unreasonable East Africa. The deadline for Unreasonable Mexico is December 1. Reasonable entrepreneurs need not apply.
Teju Ravilochan, CEO, The Unreasonable Institute, www.unreasonableinstitute.org, 303-589-2144, [email protected]